Labor pipelines matter » CBIA
A healthcare, insurance and professional services company may not have much in common, but the leaders share a strategy: investing in workforce pipelines.
“We’re not finding what we need if we don’t invest in the initial pipeline,” said Ryan Oakes, president of global health and utilities industry at Accenture, at the Connecticut Workforce Summit in October 8.
Michael van Leesten of Social Venture Partners Connecticut moderated a panel discussion at the summit with Hartford HealthCare Vice President of Human Resources Melanie Tucker, Oakes and Travelers Foundation Vice President Tara Spain [pictured above, left to right].
With more than 700,000 employees worldwide, Oakes said Accenture develops programs and relationships in diverse communities to have a diverse pool of talent.
At Hartford HealthCare, Tucker understands that the industry’s rapid growth can continue to present challenges.
“We can never recruit to get out of this,” Tucker said. “We need to invest and build to move forward and keep pace.”
While at one time the driving factors for investing in early talent pools may have been being a good community partner, equities have become an imperative for companies themselves.
And right now there’s a huge buy-in from leaders, as Spain from the Travelers Foundation said.
“We all make this part of the fabric of who we are as a company,” Spain said.
Travelers, Accenture and Hartford HealthCare all have programs in place to build strong workforce networks.
For Accenture, Oakes said about 20% of the 100,000 employees they will hire this year will be part of their structured, living wage. apprenticeship program.
Students enrolled in Travelers EDGE Program also have a clear path. The program aims to bring students into college, support them through college, and build careers with Travelers or elsewhere in the insurance industry.
The program has served 500 students since its launch in 2007.
Spain said financial support through scholarships, on-campus academic support, internships, mentoring and peer relations has proven successful so far.
“We know there are so many needs there,” Spain said.
She encourages other employers to set up similar programs.
Travelers and Hartford HealthCare are also investing in ReadyCT Career Path Programs in Connecticut high schools.
Not only do they support the programs financially, but also physically. Representatives sit on industry advisory boards, participate in mock interviews, speak to classrooms, and greet students in their offices.
Soft skills development
When it comes to preparing students for the job market, leaders have found that soft skills are just as important, and in some cases more important than hard skills, early in the development process.
The Accenture learning program teaches students how to organize meetings, write memos, and write emails.
“It’s the things that matter to operate within a corporate culture that so often define people’s success or failure once they get into the harder work,” Oakes said.
Spain has found it helpful to teach young people the importance of “personal branding,” meaning intentionally managing how you present yourself in spaces with persistence and appropriate attire.
While ReadyCT pathways give students certificates in various industries, Tucker said the training beyond technical skills shines.
Tucker was recently impressed with the students involved in ReadyCT’s immersive GRIT summer training program, as its impact went far beyond technical skills.
Hartford HealthCare gave students a real problem to solve over the summer.
Through their individual work and time spent in the hospital, the students presented a solution to Tucker and other members of his team.
“During all of this, they learned critical thinking skills, how to take feedback, how to negotiate, how to work collaboratively as a team, and then how to present themselves as leaders,” Tucker said.
“These are the kinds of skills that when someone comes out of school will really set them up for success in any position.”
While academic aptitude will continue to play a role in determining a person’s success after high school, the focus has changed for some.
Companies have begun to realize the importance of promoting and developing Pathway programs.
“Creating a pipeline and creating a talent pool that is readily available to businesses is the route to getting our attention,” Oakes said.
Even for big companies like Accenture, degrees don’t carry the same weight. In fact, the company backed out of eliminating degrees from 80% of job prerequisites just a few years ago.
“This culture shift of making people realize that the traditional routes of ‘here are the 20 schools we’re going to go to and get students with these specific degrees and experiences’ is totally inadequate in what we need to do to serve our business needs,” Oakes said.
Tucker and Spain believe it’s essential to attract students and their families to pathway programs, even if they don’t look or feel as traditional.
“Hartford HealthCare is really looking to help educate the community, caregivers about the opportunities that pathways can provide for students,” Tucker said.
She said it’s especially important for students who have significant responsibilities outside of the classroom.
This belief in lanes is not new, but is becoming increasingly essential for various industries to see a successful future.