48 HR Magazine June/July 2017
revamped the performance management system, adding individual professional development goals. (At the same time, the
company raised its starting wage to $15 an hour, resulting in
a pay increase for 25 percent of its workforce. And it provided
staff with more flexible work options.)
By helping to boost the company’s reputation for excellent
customer service, Holland and her team are enabling the business to stand out in a crowded field of gas providers.
“HR has a responsibility to keep workforce readiness as an
ongoing topic and not just a once-a-year head count discussion,” Holland says.
To ensure that their companies have the right people with
the right skills, HR professionals must take on the roles of forecaster, investigator and project manager.
“We have to figure out what workforce we need to ensure
that the company is ready for the future. To me, it always starts
with your business goals,” Holland says.
She suggests beginning with these key questions:
• Where do business leaders want the company to be in the
next five, 10 or 15 years?
• What kind of talent do you need to achieve that goal?
• What kind of talent do you have?
• What do you need to retrain existing talent?
• If that’s not possible, where can you find new talent?
“The HR role is particularly important because so often the
business leaders focus on the next task, the next sale,” Holland
says. “And, until they turn around and don’t have a resource they’re
looking for, they may not stop to think about whether they have
the right resources. So HR needs to be asking those questions.”
HR professionals are increasingly working with community colleges, workforce development boards and nonprofit organizations
to give a leg up to young people and to people who are unemployed
“Building relationships with these organizations would be
really worthwhile. They don’t want to see jobs go unfilled,” says
Maureen Conway, vice president for policy programs at The Aspen
Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., who has led research
efforts into workforce strategies to help low-income individuals.
But before contacting the organizations, make sure you know
what you want to accomplish, Conway advises. Take a problem-solving approach. Why aren’t you attracting enough qualified
applicants, and why aren’t the people you’ve hired staying in their
jobs? Partnering with public agencies can help address some underlying reasons, such as transportation, but not those that fall outside
the purview of your potential partner.
For example, “sometimes the reason it’s hard for them to fill
jobs is the scheduling or pay,” says Andrea Vaghy Benyola, managing director of career and education services at The Door, which
provides job training and other services to disadvantaged youth
in New York City. “Our services aren’t going to remedy those
things.” The Door has worked with Gap Inc. and other retailers
to train young people for entry-level internships.
HR professionals are also helping to ensure that more people are
trained in critical roles by getting involved in regional partnerships, including those with other employers and education, workforce and economic development organizations.
Leaders at Click Bond Inc. in Carson City, Nev., exemplify
how some of those relationships can work. Larry Harvey, HR
director at the company, which manufactures adhesive-bonded
fasteners primarily for the aerospace industry, sits on the local
workforce development board, while the company’s board chairman is a member of the community college board. Click Bond
also is one of the first two employers developing an apprenticeship program through the Nevada Apprenticeship Project.
“Everybody talks about the skills gap, and we are certainly
experiencing that,” Harvey says. About 20 percent of the company’s 340 workers are expected to retire in the next 10 years. At
the end of a four-year apprenticeship, an employee may still require
another 10 years to learn all of the skills held by the person retiring, he says. Meanwhile, competition is heating up as several larger
employers have moved into the area.
Click Bond has had apprentice programs at its Connecticut
facility for eight years. It also has a pre-apprenticeship program for
high school students. Harvey is working with Truckee Meadows
Community College to develop the curriculum for toolmakers and
maintenance mechanics in Carson City.
Ochsner Health System’s Sparks sits on a health care advisory
council for the city of New Orleans along with the senior vice president of human resources of LCMC Health, another large health
care provider in the state. Although the two executives work for
competing organizations, they’re planning a collaborative program to train medical lab technicians beginning this fall.
“Together, we can make a greater difference for our citizens
than if we stand as competitors,” Sparks says.
Dori Meinert is senior writer/editor for HR Magazine.
At the end of a four-year apprenticeship,
an employee may still require another
10 years to learn all of the skills held by
the person retiring.
–Larry Harvey, Click Bond Inc.
This article relates to Critical
Evaluation, one of the nine competencies on which SHRM has based
its certification. To learn more, visit