The Importance of Employer-Provided Training for Talent Attraction and Retention

Are companies looking for the right kind of talent?

By Tim Proehm, VP, Digital Product Development  |  August 16, 2017

As a member of The Resourcing Leaders 100, I was pleased when at our most recent meeting, the discussion focused on challenging established attitudes towards talent recruitment and retention. Especially in this era of digital disruption, organizations are constantly competing for top talent to help them navigate new territory and seize new opportunities. But are companies looking for the right kind of talent? And are they offering what talent want?

Education levels and underemployment

In some countries, like Germany, it’s common practice for companies to invest in talent development. Educational systems that combine theoretical instruction at schools with internships and apprenticeships at companies allow young adults to gain practical, hands-on experience in a wide range of occupations, both vocational and professional. It also provides employers with a steady stream of qualified, experienced talent.

In the U.S. and the U.K., however, there’s a long-held belief that young adults need a degree in order to get a good job. It’s the norm for employers to require a college degree—even for positions that don’t require academic training. But in recent years, it’s become clear that many college graduates are underemployed.

To illustrate, in 2015, 32.5 percent of the U.S. population had a Bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. census. Yet in that same year, America’s Health Rankings reports that the average underemployment rate was 12 percent.

In contrast, Statistisches Bundesamt states that in Germany in 2015, only 16 percent of the population had a Bachelor’s degree or higher, while 48 percent had a vocational degree. Yet only four percent were underemployed, as YCharts reports.

Rethinking outdated recruitment norms

Interestingly, there’s a growing body of research that shows employees with college degrees aren’t necessarily the best performers. Bourree Lam’s article in The Atlantic titled “The Best Job Candidates Don’t Always Have College Degrees” explains how Ernst & Young changed their hiring practices after an internal assessment revealed little correlation between academic success and professional performance.

The fact is that new college graduates usually don’t possess the practical experience employers require. Moreover, there’s a serious skills shortage for workers with vocational skills. Nevertheless, many employers aren’t willing to invest in training talent, since they’re afraid these employees will leave before their companies have seen adequate returns on their investments.

However, if companies want to ensure they have the talent they need to thrive, they need to rethink their talent strategies. By partnering with educational institutes and offering internships, apprenticeships, and other in-house training, they can create their own workforces with precisely the skills they need. This eliminates problems due to skills shortages and quality issues. In addition, if employers provide ongoing professional development and well-defined career paths, they stand a good chance of retaining more of these skilled workers in the long run.

What’s obvious is that when it comes to attracting and retaining good talent, companies put themselves in the driver’s seat when they look beyond the expectation that a specific degree or program is a strict prerequisite for joining their workforce.

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