Employers Come Together to Build Talent Pipelines for Today and Tomorrow

The Hall of Flags in Washington, D.C. was at max capacity for the Talent Pipeline Management National Conference this past Wednesday when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation discussed the launch of the Talent Pipeline Management Academy (TPM Academy), the end result of seven successful pilot programs where employers led efforts to close the skills gap.

“This was not just another example of bringing people around a table to throw stones,” Jason Tyszko, executive director for the Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce, said in his opening remarks. “This was about solving problems, and addressing the talent shortage as a business need.”

From L to R: Jason A. Tysko, Executive Director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce, Vicki Haugen, President & CEO, Vermilion Advantage, Sara Dunnigan, Executive Director, Virginia Board of Workforce Development, Dave Adkisson, President & CEO, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Washington, DC, USA – March 23, 2016: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosts the Talent Pipeline Management conference. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The journey to Wednesday’s conference started in the summer of 2014 with a grant and a white paper exploring this basic systemic failing: According to the U.S. Department of Labor there are 5.5 million unfilled jobs and 49 percent of employers say they are unable to fill many positions because of a lack of skilled workers. With the problem laid out in black and white, Tyszko took his white paper on a national tour to find a solution.

Along the way seven pilot programs were formed in seven different states. These programs were developed and monitored by business associations and local government initiatives and, according to Tyszko, impacted 72 national employers. Members of those programs were on hand to discuss their experiences in front of what Tyszko hopes to be the next cohort of participating associations and potential enrollees into the new Academy. The official launch put forth an initial goal of having 40 new partners reaching 1,000 employers by 2017 and projections of 300 partners impacting 7,500 employers by 2020.

“We can start building an army of individuals who have the tools and know these skills in talent pipeline management,” Tyszko said. “We’re going from concept to implementation to scale.”

Attendees of the conference were asked in the beginning to download the Crowd Mics app, which allowed them to interact with speakers and presenters with questions and comments. A popular question for the representatives from the pilot programs was what motivated them to get involved. In a competitive marketplace, where is the incentive for collaboration? But what seemed so unnatural for the new members of the choir seemed surprisingly easy for members of the converted.

Glen Hamer (L), President & CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Barry Klein (R), General Manager, Shell Deer Park. Washington, DC, USA – March 23, 2016: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosts the Talent Pipeline Management conference. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“Most of us felt intuitively there was a problem and leaders don’t have a problem jumping together in that situation,” said Barry Klien, General Manager at Shell Deer Park, which was part of the Greater Houston Partnership that participated in the pilot program. Shell had gotten used to sitting at the table with different corporations when the industry convened to address safety issues that were hurting the business and its clients.  “After we did an initial survey looking at jobs versus skills over 5- and 10-year periods it was shocking and people on the fence immediately moved over. We found a huge amount of interest. Once we had everyone working off the same song sheet we made a lot more progress a lot quicker.”

Sitting on the tables in the Hall of Flags were copies of the Center’s Implementation Guide, which lays out the six strategies that make up the foundation of talent pipeline management (TPM): 1) organize employer collaboratives, 2) engage in demand planning, 3) communicate competency and credential requirements, 4) analyze talent flows, 5) implement shared performance measures and 6) align incentives. The Center for Workforce and Education recently expanded on these strategies in its Changing the Debate report that was released at the beginning of the month.

“We had a lot of dissatisfied companies but we couldn’t get them engaged,” said Janice Urbanik, the executive director of Partners for a Competitive Workforce and a representative of the pilot program in Kentucky. “Now we have a way to speak to them in their language and a deliberate strategy to get them participating.”
With the data and success from the pilot programs in tow, Tyszko laid out the blueprint for the TPM Academy. It looks very much like an actual school: there will be a designated classroom where members of business associations, corporations, corporate talent development programs and industry-based associations are the pupils. The course is brief (hypothetically up to three months) and is meant to provide participants with the necessary tools to engage leaders in their respective communities. This includes everything from investigating demand and incentives to using software to collect and track talent data.

“This is a leadership gap,” Tyszko said in a speech at the conference. “Through an academy model, we can be bigger, we can be better, and we can move faster.” Should the Academy find success in its first two terms, the next step would be to move to a self-sustaining model. At the moment, participation in the Academy is free.

“We’ll know enough about how to tweak it and with some wins under our belt we can make it available on the state level,” Tyszko said. “Our hope is it will eventually stand on its own.”

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

Innovation, Management & Leadership, Workforce Development,
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