School-To-Careers: Alternative Ways to Source Candidates

I don’t know how many recruiters look beyond the requisitions they have in front of them. Unfortunately, I think it’s probably a small number. However, for those who DO think longer term — probably the recruiters who are regular employees of a medium to large size company — the concept of long term strategic sourcing may make sense. By this I mean locating potential employees early in their educational process, nurturing and mentoring them to acquire the skills and capabilities needed to work in your organization, and then finding creative ways to ensure that they contribute to your company’s productivity AND continue their education. One of the ways to do this is to see if your community supports a school-to-careers program. These programs are partnerships or alliances between the local high schools or community colleges and segments of the business community. In San Francisco, for example, there are a number of partnerships clustered around career segments such as financial services, travel and hospitality, information technology, and health care. These partnerships, dubbed academies, help several hundred students each year work part time in the field of interest to them while taking courses in school relevant to the same area. Finance students take courses in accounting and equity markets and travel students take courses in customer service and in learning about a variety of countries and travel destinations. By the time the students finish high school or community college, they have marketable skills and are often hired directly by the companies in the partnership. Almost all of these companies also provide ways and financial support for the new employee to continue schooling. This is a much cheaper and more productive use of resources than paying agency fees and advertising for open positions. Even the cost of tuition is cheaper than many of the costs associated with recruiting. These programs also build loyalty and make employees want to stay. Employees who are hired through one of these programs leave less frequently, are productive sooner, and contribute more over their life cycle with the company. Many positions that have been filled traditionally by the candidate with 1-3 years of experience, in other words a beginner, can be successfully filled with a school-to-careers student. New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and many other cities across the United States have these programs and thriving companies who are smart enough to know how good the students are, how inexpensive they are in the beginning, how cheap it is to hire them, and how little it costs to keep them! In every way, the school-to-career programs are win-win. If you would like more information, contact your local Chamber of Commerce or district high school office, or send me an email and I will try to put you in touch with a local sponsor or contributor. Make YOUR recruiting a long term strategic advantage.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at