We’ve all heard plenty about the skills-gap problem, that not nearly enough incoming workers — or would-be incoming workers — have the skills and knowledge needed to help the United States climb out of its quagmire of sluggish recovery and more long-term non-competetiveness in the global market.
There’s been plenty of blame to go around — from failing public schools and mediocre colleges that don’t teach the right skills, to parents who don’t enforce homework and discipline, to employers that don’t work hard enough with local businesses to ensure the right skills are being taught.
And the beat still goes on. Job candidates keep coming to interviews unprepared for what’s needed. Worse still, many of the best entry-level workers businesses can find are being hired to fail, basically.
I guess against such a backdrop, this recent study by Corporate Voices for Working Families carries a lot of promise. The report, Why Companies Invest in ‘Grow Your Own’ Talent, shows employers that embrace workforce-readiness training for their current and incoming entry-level employees are finding promising results and an imprressive — and measurable — return on their investment. (Take a look at the paper; it includes an online Return-on-Investment tool designed to help you calculate the costs and benefits associated with workforce-readiness programs.)
Researchers in the Washington-based nonprofit business-membership organization looked at several companies — including CVS/Caremark, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — and found that, despite different approaches to implementing training programs, their investments saved money through improved retention, reduced turnover and rehiring costs … and intangible plusses, such as greater workplace diversity, enhanced customer and client loyalty, and an improved reputation in the communities these companies serve.
“These forward-looking companies have shown that investing in the workforce of tomorrow is a smart decision for today,” says Stephen M. Wing, managing director of Corporate Voices Consulting, a division of CVWF. “By leveraging partnerships with the public Workforce Investment system [part of the U.S. Department of Labor] and other experts in their communities, these employers are improving the odds of success for their valued employees and strengthening their own bottom line.”
I think, if I were a business owner, I would put it a little more succinctly: “If no one else is going to give this next generation of workers the skills and knowledge they need to grow my business and shore up my country’s competitiveness, well, I guess I have to do it myself.”