The skills gap makes it difficult to find workers with the right experience. Technology skills garner the most attention, but other industries face talent shortages as well. Upskilling contingent workers might be an option to help find the workers your program needs.

Take the IT skills gap. It is well known. The TechServe Alliance, a trade group of IT and engineering staffing firms, reports shortages of qualified IT talent appear to be restricting growth in IT employment in the US — even as the number of jobs has recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

“The skills gap is significant — almost at crisis proportion — and I do not see that abating any time in the future,” says Mark Roberts, CEO of the TechServe Alliance. It’s driven by an inadequate supply of workers in the US further exacerbated by restrictions on bringing in IT professionals from outside the country.

During the height of the pandemic, IT employment temporarily declined, Roberts says. But things have since bounced back.

IT Training Model

For contingent workforces, a relatively new model in the IT space is one called recruit-train-deploy, in which a staffing firm will recruit a cohort of workers, train them in the needed IT skills and send them on assignment. Clients can choose the skills to be taught.

Generally speaking, training under the recruit-train-deploy model can take 90 days and the assignments run from 12 months to 24 months, according to reports.

New Talent Channel

The recruit-train-deploy model is seen as one way to create a different talent channel, says Ashleigh Koehler, category manager, global IT project services, for JPMorgan Chase, whose program works with such suppliers.

“For years everyone has been talking about the war for talent, the race for talent,” Koehler says. “We know that we are in competition with everyone else for talent.”

The situation can even be described as a talent apocalypse of sorts, and recruit-train-deploy is one way to bring in experienced entry-level talent, she says.

It’s a win-win. Candidates get the opportunity to learn, become part of a community with other workers and get help integrating into the environment at the client site. In turn, staffing buyers get entry-level talent with greater experience.

Koehler says she heard about the recruit-train-deploy model while at an SIA conference. There was already an emerging talent program in place at JPMorgan Chase for full-time workers. Demand is often high for that program, she notes, and the idea for an emerging talent program for contingent workers was put in place as an avenue to bring in nontraditional talent.

Enhancing Productivity

One feature of working with firms in the space is it allows JPMorgan Chase’s contingent workforce program to work with suppliers to fine tune the type of training offered. The supplier may be training full-stack developers, but tweaks can be made to the program as needed — for example, extra training in specific skill sets. The suppliers also train workers on soft skills and can provide information on the history of JPMorgan Chase and the working culture of the group. As a result, the contingent workers are coming in with two to three years’ worth of experience after the training as well as a background on the company.

The suppliers have also been able to create new curricula and pull in experts when needed for new skills.

The size of the candidate cohort training varies by supplier, and Koehler says they encourage workers to be assigned to the same location. It helps the workers to establish camaraderie and makes moving to new areas easier. However, even if a worker gets assigned to a separate site, it’s likely he or she will be with others who came through the recruit-train-deploy model.

Koehler has also met with candidates directly to ensure the program is working and the contingents are being treated well. And while this aspect of the contingent workforce program is just one category under her remit, she still takes time to meet with workers when able.

She also noted it took a while to gain adoption, as is the case with new programs in general. However, they are seeing success with the program and continuing to make incremental improvements.

Skills shortage continuing

As the skills shortage intensifies, talk about training, its benefits and the challenges, continues. Workforce specialists are experimenting with varied approaches and models to see what role training provides in bridging the skills gap for the contingent workforce.

And in the meantime, candidates are getting trained and helping companies get the job done.