Training Before Day One: Pre-boarding as a Retention and Engagement Strategy

January 24, 2019

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(January 24, 2019) — It’s a job candidate’s market, not an employer’s. With the high competition for skilled employees, how can organizations attract candidates who will not only want to work for them but who will hit the ground running once they’re hired? One strategy is pre-boarding.

What Is Pre-boarding?

In our 2019 trends report, Training Industry, Inc. identified pre-boarding as a market opportunity for providers to add to their services. “Think of it as a ‘train-to-hire’ approach to recruiting in which applicants are placed in a job once they are fully trained,” wrote Doug Harward, Ken Taylor and Michelle Eggleston Schwartz, noting that technical, health and safety companies are already offering such services.

“In a tight labor market, it makes a lot of sense to do this,” says Jason Roberts, global head of technology and analytics at Randstad Sourceright. “If you have someone who’s a solid fit for you, but they’re missing some pieces of what you need, it broadens your pool that you’re able to look at.”

Pre-boarding also demonstrates to job candidates that your organization is already invested in them, says Marie Davis, director of national employer partnerships at Penn Foster. If the employer provides education before the candidate has even accepted a job, the candidate can be relatively confident it will do so during his or her career there, too.

Filling the Skills Gap

Every day, articles bemoan the “skills gap” – the distance between job candidates’ and employees’ skills and what companies need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. This gap, or at least the perception of a gap, is especially prominent in the tech industry. “Last year alone there were more than 500,000 open computing jobs, and our universities, nationwide, are producing around 60,000 computer science graduates to fill those positions,” says Chris Coleman, president of Woz U.

To help address that gap, last fall, Woz U announced a partnership with Allegis Group’s CareerCircle in which CareerCircle offers Woz U training programs online. Coleman says, “In the event that an employer is interviewing candidates that may be a great fit for their team but are lacking a few critical skills, CareerCircle can alert those candidates on how to leverage its Woz U offering to become qualified for the position.”

Davis adds that the skills gap is an issue of a reactive versus a proactive employer response. “The skills gap comes because we’re not listening and learning, both from our employees as to what they need to get to the next level,” she says. “Especially with industry-based skills and learning and development, I think that it can be done first by working together, the employers working together to come up with what’s next, and putting actions and putting training programs into place before there is the gap.” Pre-boarding is one of those proactive training strategies.

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