Do good to help your business do great

Fireworks over Baltimore’s iconic Washington Monument. (Photo courtesy of Erin Finnegan)

Around the holidays, businesses give back. They collect canned food, run coat drives, send Christmas cards to children’s hospitals, you name it. Consumers like to see companies practicing this variety of corporate social responsibility, and they like it even better when it’s practiced year-round.

Reports like Nielson’s “Sustainable Selections: How Socially Responsible Companies are Turning a Profit,” link spending habits and brand loyalty to the perceived level of investment a company makes in its community. Not only did consumers report they would be more likely to spend money with companies that practiced corporate social responsibility—66% said they would spend more money with such companies.

The trend is only increasing. Nielson noted a significant increase in the number of people willing to spend more, up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013. Why? The easy answer: Millennials. Millennials have surpassed baby boomers in terms of population and a significant portion of them are now at spending age.

This new boom has brought an onslaught of research into marketing and advertising best practices among this age group. The findings are helpful for companies looking to invest in their future. Forbes reports that 75% of millennials said that it’s either “fairly or very important that a company gives back to society.” To add weight to this statistic, 60% said that they are “often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase.”

Translation: companies can build a sustainable customer base by investing in the things millennials care about.

So the next question is: how can companies do this in a way that benefits their shareholders as well as their community?

Here’s a hint: it starts with ‘a’ and ends in ‘pprenticeship.’ You’ve got it. Apprenticeship offers a solution that not only answers consumers’ growing desire to spend money with companies that invest in their community, but also offers significant returns for businesses.

(If you missed our last entry about the benefits of apprenticeship for businesses, check it out here)

Go ahead, ask us how apprenticeship benefits the community. We’ll tell you:

In such a tumultuous political climate, apprenticeship stands out as a viable answer to the problems of un- and under-employment as well as workforce preparedness. An apprentice can come straight out of high school, join our program and get paid a decent wage from the start. This is significant, considering in Baltimore, only “one in five public school graduates matriculates to a four-year college and 16 to 19-year-olds have an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent” (Abell Foundation)

We aim to place 100 apprentices in our first year. This means 100 people who are no longer without a path after high school, no longer stagnating in a dead-end jobs or no longer searching for an employer to accept a degree without real work experience. It also means 100 more jobs filled with candidates that are vetted and trained to specific company standards.

Our program also seeks to serve a diverse population, helping to narrow the achievement gap among working-class and minority groups. We are taking the talent that already exists in these communities and making sure it reaches its full potential. This opens the door to progressing the status of segments of the population that have struggled for generations against institutional barriers such as the exorbitant cost of college.

Companies that have invested in apprenticeship in the UK have been well-rewarded. The Centre for Economic and Business research projected an 18 BILLION pound increase in profit for companies because of apprenticeship in 2015. That equates to approximately 22.7 BILLION DOLLARS.

A significant portion of this number comes from consumers’ perception of apprenticeship as “contributing to society and providing opportunities for young people, with 5 million consumers more likely to make a purchase from an apprentice employer.”

The article goes on to cite that one in four would pay more for goods and services from companies that employ apprentices. How much more? Between 1.2% and 2.0%.

Investing in our program and apprenticeship in general is an investment in the community, in the economy, in your business. Simply put, apprenticeship works.

If you would like to learn more about incorporating apprenticeship into your business, click here.

If you would like to learn more about becoming an apprentice, click here.

Employers have 99 problems but Apprenticeship isn’t one

Thanks to National Apprenticeship Week, our official program launch, and media buzz from the Baltimore Business Journal, The Daily Record, The Sun, W-BALTV 11, and msn.com—our team has been busy.  In came the calls, the website queries, the Facebook messages, the emails, and even a walk in.

Apprenticeship has struck a chord with the public. We have people as young as 18 and as old as 50 interested in our program. They are career-changers, high school graduates, parents, people struggling to finish community college. While they may differ in age and experience, they have one common thread: the desire to secure a meaningful career and sustainable employment.

The benefits for apprentices are obvious:

  1. Payment from day one.
  2. Customized education plan developed in collaboration with the employer.
  3. Nationally recognized credentials from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Registration.
  4. International backing from a top-rated UK apprenticeship company, 3aaa (i.e.- they know what they are doing!)
  5. A foot in the door to an emerging industry like IT, Digital & Social Media or Cyber Security.
  6. Help with soft skills like interview strategy and resume construction.
  7. Opportunity for continued advancement.
  8. Support and mentorship from our team.
  9. A future without debt.
  10. A future that begins today and not in four (or more) years.

The benefits for employers may not be as obvious, but are nonetheless, just as valuable.

Employer problem: Candidates do not have the skills and experience employers require.

The root of this problem extends beyond the IT market. America, in general, has millions of job openings, but a discrepancy exists between the skills candidates have and the skills employers require.

According to CNN Money, there are multiple reasons these jobs remain unfilled, including: lack of quality job-training programs when compared to Europe and Asia, unrealistic employer demands (i.e. 65% of postings for secretary positions list college degree as a requirement where only 19% have college degrees) and the college-only mindset preventing people from seeking job-training programs.

Yes, in an employer’s dream market, candidates would come ready-made with the skills and experience to dive in on day one. However, in the current labor landscape, on-the-job training is a necessary step.

Our program is set up to maximize the employer’s investment. We work directly with each employer to develop a curriculum tailored specifically for the role the apprentice will assume, thereby eliminating skill gaps. The curriculum, delivered via a combination of 144 classroom hours and 2000 on-the-job hours, encompasses both hard and soft skills, ensuring that the apprentice makes a smooth transition into the workplace environment.

Employer problem: Recruiting is expensive. It’s also difficult.

Recruiting candidates with a relevant, ready-to-go skill set in the in-demand IT industries our program serves is difficult. Google ‘cyber security job openings’ and you’ll see why. The IT industry is evolving at an unprecedented rate. According to the Cybersecurity Jobs Report, the cyber security workforce shortage could reach 1.5 million by 2019.

The cost of hiring a third-party recruiter can be exorbitant– especially with hard-to-fill positions. Typical recruitment costs run between 15% and 25% of the candidate’s total first year annual earnings (Undercover Recruiter). Additionally, Workopolis names IT Staff among the top 10 most difficult positions to fill, with recruiting costs averaging $14,600 per employee.

Our program is a triple treat. We recruit, train and mentor candidates to ensure long-term success. The cost of our program, paid over time, is not only less than the average third-party recruiting costs for the positions we fill, but we are also able to help employers access Federal and State level incentives for hiring apprentices.

When an employer signs on with our program, we conduct a full assessment of the employer’s needs. This assessment covers everything from the skills the apprentice will need to learn for the position to the workplace culture. We then present the employer with multiple candidates who have made it into our talent pool via a pre-screening process that involves aptitude testing and consultation. Our apprentices are a direct reflection of our program and we are dedicated to finding employers candidates that exhibit the work ethic, talent and attitude necessary to succeed. Additionally, our agreement with the employer offers many safeguards throughout the one-year apprenticeship, which could include replacement of an apprentice or refunds in the event of unforeseen circumstances (i.e.- an out of state move by the apprentice, serious illness, etc.)

Employer problem: Turnover costs money, time and affects workplace culture.

According to ERE Media:

  • Replacing ENTRY LEVEL employees costs 30-50% of their annual salary
  • Replacing MID-LEVEL employees costs 150% of their annual salary
  • Replacing HIGH-LEVEL or highly specialized employees costs 400% of their annual salary ERE Media, April 2015

High turnover rate can be attributed to lack of training/developmental opportunities and low level of employee engagement in addition to qualms with compensation and benefits (HR Daily Advisor).

ERE Media names investing in staff, providing regular feedback and opening lines of communication among the steps employers need to take to retain employees. These three steps are integral to our program and apprenticeship in general.

Hiring an apprentice indicates an investment in not only the future of the company, but the future of the apprentice. This investment is supplemented by the role of our program assessors. The Assessor remains in communication with both the employer and the apprentice throughout employment to ensure the goals of both the employer and the employee are being met.

An additional benefit: When an employer hires an employee, whether through internal or external recruitment resources, there are usually very few safeguards. As previously mentioned, our program provides multiple safeguards to the employer – including replacement of an apprentice.. We maintain a pool of applicants, vetted and screened by our Apprentice Skills Advisor, for this exact purpose. 

Apprenticeship in the UK: Facts & Figures:

The apprenticeship model is well-established in many countries, especially in the United Kingdom. American companies can take note of the successes felt by UK businesses that employ apprentices. According to a report from CIPD:

  • 96% report that apprenticeship has improved their business
  • 72% reported increased productivity (on average £214 a week- around $280- in gains which include increased profits, lower prices and better products)
  • 75% cited reduces recruitment costs of apprentice employers say their Apprenticeship program has helped cut recruitment costs
  • 80% agreed that apprenticeships will play a greater role in their future recruitment policy, resulting in lower staff turnover, fewer skills-related vacancies and reduced recruitment costs.
  • 88% believe apprenticeship helps create a more motivated and loyal workforce.

If you would like to learn more about hiring an apprentice, click here.

If you would like to learn more about becoming an apprentice, click here.