Teri Vos, Director of Work Based Learning and a Community Collaboration based from Central College in Pella

Despite national concern about unemployment amid the pandemic, there are a lot of parts of the country and our economy that need skilled workers today. In my community, we added 750 new jobs between 2013 and 2018. Yet the population only grew by 12. It’s an obstacle, for sure. But in working with more than a dozen employers in the Pella area, we’ve found a few keys to success. Most importantly, no one employer can do this alone. To be effective, companies should not see each other as opponents in talent recruitment, but as team members.

Why is working as a cross-industry, cross-community team so valuable? While partnering with area employers, the Career Academy of Pella and Central College, on the Earn & Learn Registered Apprenticeship Program, we’ve realized some incredible benefits and learned critical lessons. Here are a few you can leverage right away:

  • Learn from each other: Each month leaders from regional employers, like Pella Corp. and Vermeer Corp., get together to share successes and failures, bring new ideas to the table and remind each other of our collective goal – greater recruitment and retention of quality employees. These meetings have been so productive, we’re starting to do the same for managers and mentors. We often also learn from programs and successes in other cities and states. Our contacts at the Earn & Learn program and with area businesses and educators have so many great resources for us to tap into when stuck.
  • The nature of the employee recruitment game is change: It’s not just your company. Every business experiences this constant change. Your external teammates (community peers and business partners) and internal teammates (staff) are constantly evolving. So it makes sense that your approach to recruitment should be constantly evolving too. Like professional sports teams, sometimes you have to cultivate new skills. Sometimes it’s about changing your playbook. Sometimes a shift in company culture is necessary. Be constantly looking for solutions that make your business open and appealing to new talent.
  • Think differently: Tapping into ideas and best practices from another industry can bring new life into your recruitment efforts. Stop allowing yourself to say, “That doesn’t work in my industry.” Instead ask yourself, “Well, why not? How can we adapt the execution to fit our industry?” There are many industries or disciplines that still pass over the idea of running a Registered Apprenticeship Program. In my experience, this can be a game changer for many companies. The U.S. Department of Labor indicates that 91% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship are still employed nine months later. For high-turnover industries, that is an incredible number. So talk to one of your peers and find out how and why a Registered Apprenticeship Program is working for them. Or do a little digging yourself at Apprenticeship.gov. Next week is National Apprenticeship Week, so there is lots of new info available.

Keeping your employee recruitment team strategies open and ever-expanding will help you increase that successful hiring rate and reduce turnover. Remember that there are many, many people in your role at other companies who share your struggles and goals. Reach out to them. And don’t forget to check in with people like me or those who run state and federal workforce programs. You’ll be surprised at the resources we can offer. When you network with all of us, the list of best practices above will grow and grow and grow.


  Teri Vos

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