This Workforce Development Strategy Sucks, Here’s What to Do Instead

Got entry-level employees? You need to upgrade your workforce development strategy. Learn what to do instead.

February 11, 2024

Do you have the ability to forecast or budget for planned hires or hire entry level employees? If so, this is probably your workforce development strategy: hire from a feeder, onboard the employee, do some job training.

If you follow this pattern of entry-level hiring, it’s more than likely that your workforce development strategy isn’t doing as much as it should be for your company. 

Your workforce development strategy sucks…

If you have interns and aren’t hiring them afterward

Let’s face it: an internship is a short-term apprenticeship – or at least it should be. If an internship is well-executed, it ought to have the same standards and intent as a longer term apprenticeship.

An internship gives someone short term work so they can learn on-the-job, be exposed to your company, and if successful, you can hire them afterward.

If you don't hire the majority of your interns into full-time roles, your workforce development strategy sucks. There’s an issue with either the design or the execution of your internship.

If you haven’t laid out the skills an entry-level employee at your company needs to know and how the work in the internship develops those skills, there’s an issue with the design of your internship.

If you aren’t giving your interns good enough work for them to learn on-the-job and gain the skills and competencies you need at your company, there’s an issue with the execution of your internship.

As short-term apprenticeships, internships can be critical to your talent pipeline. If well-designed, they ought to act as a primary workforce development strategy and employee feeder. If your internships aren’t providing you with well-prepared, skilled entry-level employees, you need to make a change.

If you only recruit from colleges and universities

There are so many problems with this workforce development strategy. 

First, recruiting from colleges or universities limits your talent pool. You’re excluding people of underrepresented minorities in particular – the majority of college graduates are White or Caucasian (about 60%). 

A second problem inherent in recruiting based on education: just because someone went to a college or university doesn’t mean they have the skills you actually need at your company. 

Third, it’s also likely you hold a bias when recruiting from schools. 

Either you have a “proximity bias”: you recruit from the schools closest to you. You may have developed a relationship with these colleges due to convenience – and that’s your workforce development strategy.

Or you have a “prestige bias”: you only look to recruit from Ivy League schools or other top colleges. 

A prestige bias is shockingly common. In a study conducted by Indeed, nearly half (48%) of hiring managers reported believing that the institution an applicant graduated from plays an important role in hiring.

Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of HR at Indeed told Fast Company, “[Overall,] hiring managers often look at the name of the school as a way to benchmark other entry-level candidates who don’t have experience…but that discounts a lot of talented candidates. Very few people attend the top 10 or 20 schools.” 

In a remote world, we’ve proved you don’t need to only look in your city or state for employees. Talent is universal. Just because a school is proximate to you doesn’t mean that’s where the talent is for the role you need.

And if you only recruit from prestigious schools, you’re allowing the university to act as your hiring screener. The college admissions process for a high school senior becomes your workforce development strategy, and you’re assuming that the high school senior who gets in and attends is the “best” or “most talented” for the role you need at your company – a non-sequitur. A high barrier to entry doesn’t equate to skills you need at your company.

If you recruit from schools as your workforce development strategy, you’re only considering a small pool or people, you can’t be 100% certain the person you’re hiring has the skills you need, and you’ve most likely considering these people with an inherent bias. It’s time for a change.

What workforce development strategy to adopt instead

What to do if you’ve realized your workforce development strategy sucks? The first place to start is figuring out what necessary skills your company needs and working backwards. You need a skills-based workforce development strategy, because someone’s skills directly relate to the value a person brings to your company. 

To implement this, you’ll need to develop a skills-based job description that meets the needs of your business and assess candidates based on the skills you’ve defined. Then, once a person is hired, you need to further develop their skills so they have the most impact on business success. 

That’s exactly what an apprenticeship is designed to do: to make skills and competencies the heart of your workforce development strategy.

How to make apprenticeships your workforce development strategy 

Actually call it an apprenticeship. 

You might be running an apprenticeship but just not calling it an apprenticeship. An internship, for example, is a short-term apprenticeship. 

 Do yourself a favor and turn that internship into an apprenticeship. It’ll open you up to an alternative talent pool, will ensure your entry-level employees have the skills you need (and can develop) for business success, and if you choose to federally-register, can open you up to funding to offset workforce development costs. That’s a win-win-win.

Create a long term plan employees can envision themselves being a part of.

You want the people you hire to stay on your team. Apprenticeships define a path for an employee’s growth and development within a company. A well-designed and well-executed apprenticeship can offer an employee security, stability, and means to productivity – key pieces to anyone’s decision to stay with a company.

All entry-level workers ought to be in an apprenticeship.

A bold statement, but a necessary one. We believe in equal opportunity, especially for those who have the motivation and desire to commit themselves to productive work no matter their background. An apprenticeship diversifies the entry-level talent pool and ensures all entry-level workers have learned the skills needed for the role and your company. Apprenticeships take the guesswork out of workforce development.

Make it easy to design and manage an apprenticeship.

We get it. In the past, making an apprenticeship program your workforce development strategy would have been lunacy! It was WAY too difficult to start and manage. In fact, getting started is one of the biggest threats to an apprenticeship program.  It was just so. damn. hard. 

That’s why we created Apprentix. So you can create a better workforce development strategy in 15 minutes. Make your workforce development strategy easy on yourself, try Apprentix today.

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