The unpredictable economy has challenged organizations, but it’s also provided opportunities for nimble ones. For those that require skilled talent, this unsettled environment offers a foothold for an emerging strategy: hire-train-deploy.

Hire-train-deploy models, also called recruit-train-deploy, can provide contingent workforce programs with qualified teams, or cohorts, to develop talent in specific skills and expertise as dictated by the program. The benefits of this model can include improved retention, customization, program scalability and cost savings at scale.

“It all depends on the economy and the business model,” says Marc Cohen, VP, global marketing and communications at Pyramid Consulting Inc., whose GenSpark division taps a hire-train-deploy model. “A lot of companies brought talent on board as full-time employees during the pandemic; now, they’re shedding those people, but the work isn’t going away.”

According to SIA’s Lexicon of Global Workforce-Related Terms, the recruit-train-deploy model refers to a model used by some staffing firms in which a cohort of job seekers are recruited and then trained for a period of time for work at a client site. It is often used for the training of IT skills, and workers are often required to repay the staffing firm for their training if they do not stay on the job for a prescribed amount of time. The training can often take 90 days, and the work assignments can run from 12 months to 15 months.

The recruit-train-deploy approach can offer contingent workforce programs a range of options. You could receive a cohort of people trained specifically to your requirements, or you could receive a cohort of talented individuals with specific skills that are available for assignments only as needed.

Another benefit from these programs is their ability to pull from targeted schools, associations and geographic areas to generate candidates from diverse demographics — and a diverse workforce has been shown to lead to improved employer brands, better financials and more.

Cohorts and Bench Players

The talent selection process can be rigorous. Competition for spots is fierce since participants are paid for the training period, receive ongoing training and upskilling throughout their deployment and are often placed with desirable companies with the potential to move into a full-time role. Demand appears strong from the end-user side as well.

Such training programs can also help talent providers fill their talent pools with bench players who are trained in specific, sought-after skills and ready to be placed in contingent or traditional roles. Because the talent provider has invested time and resources in selecting, training and retaining the individual, the odds of making a poor placement are reduced.

The Path Forward

While IT seems to be the sector most involved with the hire-train-deploy model at this stage of the game, other business functions and industries such as healthcare could benefit from this as well.

“We are seeing companies that are recognizing the benefits of building the teams that they need rather than spending that time to go and trying to find the right blend of skills and talent,” says Abby Pillsbury, director of marketing at GenSpark. “It’s taking more of a proactive approach, and people are recognizing that.”

General Assembly, a division of The Adecco Group that provides skills training, in May launched GA Talent, a new division created within global talent solutions provider LHH. GA Talent’s recruit-train-deploy offering provides diverse tech talent. Roger Lee, chief sales and marketing officer at General Assembly, cites fluctuating market demands, a shifting economy and the need to look outside traditional talent pools for tech talent.

“Business leaders today are facing an economic landscape defined by uncertainty,” Lee says. “But one thing that’s clear is that the old methods of recruitment and talent acquisition aren’t working.”

India-based TeamLease, which ranks on SIA’s list of largest staffing firms globally, also provides a hire-train-deploy program. Sunil Chemmankotil, head of the specialized staffing division of TeamLease Services, told BusinessLine it is rapidly becoming an important strategy in bridging the talent demand-supply gap.

Some of the most sought-after skills in hire-train-deploy are mainframe, .NET, Node.js, PHP, cloud computing, service desk, data analytics, microservices, DevOps, digital skills and emerging skills, he says, adding that the trained candidates are on TeamLease’s payroll.

When an SAP consulting firm wanted 20 plug-and-play SAP security resources with expertise in Fiori, HANA and BW security, TeamLease tapped resources with three to five years’ experience and a basic understanding and exposure to SAP security concepts. Twenty candidates were onboarded in 45 days — including the client technical interview and three weeks’ training with the client, he says.

“The HTD model is a win-win situation for the client, the candidate and us,” Chemmankotil says.

Proceed with Caution

Despite its benefits, the model is not without challenges. And, as with all staffing endeavors, it is important to do your due diligence and enter such partnerships with your eyes wide open.

It is possible a placement may decide to leave the assignment, although they will face repercussions such as repayment for the training. They may also be dissatisfied with the role but remain to avoid such penalties and underperform (in this instance, however, the program provider can be available to step in and help rectify the situation).

And the model isn’t failproof. Fresno, California-based Bitwise Industries, founded in 2013 to provide workforce training to the underserved as well as software services and co-working spaces, furloughed all 900 of its employees on May 28 without notice and has since filed for bankruptcy. The Business Journal reported the liquidation bankruptcy filing cites total financial liabilities of $252.03 million; the filing includes a 17-page list of Bitwise Industries creditors that includes the names of employees who are owed back wages.

Such events can damage the end-user’s reputation, even if they were unaware of any issues or problems.

Staffing Industry Analysts is keeping an eye on hire-train-deploy models and plans to release new research on the concept in the coming weeks. Look for continued coverage in CWS 3.0 as well.