How We Found Tech Talent Through A Successful Partnership

Stephen Covey says “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Differences are the building blocks of the innovation we practice every day at Housing Partnership Network (HPN), a mission-driven business collaborative.  Integrating this ideal, my team initiated a partnership with Year Up, an organization that bridges the divide between young adults that lack opportunity and companies that seek to hire diverse and capable staff from previously overlooked talent pools.

As a senior manager who has worked in Information Systems (IS) for over 10 years in various industries, I am familiar with the challenge of finding talent to meet the demands of today’s workplace. Change in our field is so rapid and so constant that much of the training I received in my own college years is now obsolete. In order to be effective and remain relevant, IS teams must attract individuals who are industrious, technical, and adaptable. In today’s ever-evolving digital economy, IS managers must be innovative when approaching recruitment.

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HPN is a member-driven business collaborative of 100 community development organizations nationwide where the executives collaborate to create new business ventures aimed to foster healthy communities, and known as “social enterprises” because they combine a social mission with private enterprise.  We work with our member organizations to scale innovation and impact, helping millions of people gain access to affordable homes and strong communities that offer a better quality of life. As HPN has developed additional ventures over the past several years, we have increased capacity on our Information Systems team.  Our expanding portfolio of social enterprises, each with its own business goals and challenges, requires us to deliver technical infrastructure and services in a consistent manner, all while staying nimble and understanding the various technology needs of each social enterprise.

With its year-long program that combines hands-on skills training with an internship in the corporate setting, Year Up provides low-income young adults with skills, experiences, and support that empower them to begin successful careers. Through our partnership, Year Up provided us with a pool of technically trained, professional, and diverse candidates, whom we interviewed for an entry-level role on our team. From this group of candidates, we selected a young man named German Ayala and offered him a part-time position.

German brought a high level of technical skills, professionalism, and an appetite for learning.  He proved himself to be an excellent contributor to our team, and over time we were delighted to offer him a full-time position, with benefits and a salary commensurate with the market.

Like any forward-looking organization, HPN has a need to fill IS roles with candidates that have essential and current technical expertise; it makes sense to partner with organizations like Year Up that provide quality training of highly demanded skills. Our partnership allowed us to save money on recruitment fees, reduce our interview-to-hire ratio, and find a candidate that has been a great fit for our organization. Importantly, for mission-driven organizations like ours, we must build a diverse workforce that mirrors the communities in which we work and help prepare young people who will be tomorrow’s business leaders. Our partnership with Year Up is a solution that gives us access to a diverse talent pool that meets both our business and mission goals.

We have learned through action how true it is that “strength lies in differences, not in similarities”; German has brought immense value to our team and is a model employee through his commitment to our work. I look forward to seeing how he continues to grow in his career. I encourage hiring managers in all industries to innovate in their approaches to talent acquisition, and consider partnering with quality workforce training organizations like Year Up. I am confident that they will not regret making the shift.




Prabin Kanel is the Vice President of Information Systems at the Housing Partnership Network.

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.


Partnerships, Technology, Workforce Development,
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