46 HR Magazine June/July 2017
helping their organizations adapt by upgrading employees’ skills
to meet the needs of the 21st century workplace.
Invest in People
Employers worldwide are facing the most acute talent shortage
since the Great Recession, according to the results of ManpowerGroup’s 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey, released last fall. Of
the 42,000 employers surveyed globally, 40 percent reported having a hard time finding qualified people to fill critical positions,
the highest level since 2007.
With skills requirements changing rapidly, more than half of
the employers chose to develop and train their own people, com-
pared with just 20 percent that did so in 2015.
And of the 2,210 U. S. organizations responding to the survey,
46 percent reported having trouble filling jobs, up from 32 percent in 2015. Of those that reported difficulty, 48 percent chose
to train their own workers last year, a significant increase from 12
percent in 2015.
Many employers that cut their training and development during the recession “are now giving back and investing in employees,” says Chris Layden, managing director of Experis, a division
Old Navy/Gap Inc.
The retailer wanted to help low-income
teens and young adults make a strong
start in the working world. The company cites research indicating that failing to get a first job as a teen can significantly impact an individual’s long-term
In 2007, Gap rolled out a paid internship program called This Way Ahead,
which has helped more than 2,500
young people land their first jobs. Participants are recruited by local nonprofits, such as The Door in New York City,
which runs job-training programs.
Those accepted into the program are
hired for 10-week internships, working about 12 hours a week, and receive
ongoing support and feedback from the
nonprofits’ job coaches, store managers and colleagues. In 2016, more than
70 percent of participants received job
offers at Old Navy, Banana Republic or
“It’s giving them the skills and confidence they need in the long term to
be successful in the workplace,” says
Shimer, who serves on a steering committee for the program.
Gap plans to hire 5 percent of its entry-level employees from the internship
program by 2025. This Way Ahead is
now in place at 172 stores in 12 cities,
and the number is expected to double
While the program started as a
way to help the community’s youth,
the company benefits as well. Former
interns who are hired stay with the
company twice as long as their peers
and have higher engagement scores,
The interns also inspire other
staff members. At a recent corporate leadership conference, a former
intern shared how the program gave
him hope after he had dropped out
of school. His goal is to be a general
manager in five years.
Don’t be afraid to start out small and
build up. Encourage leaders of all levels
to engage with the interns. Help them
understand what the program gives
to underserved youth and also what
it gives back to leaders. It’s a two-way
Jommel Terrado folds shirts during his retail internship at an Old Navy store in San Francisco. Terrado
participated in Gap’s This Way Ahead program, which trains low-income teens and young adults to help
them land their first jobs.