Training models in the world of work are taking on many forms. A number of staffing firms have jumped on this bandwagon. SIA’s report “North America Staffing Company Survey 2020” found that 57% of staffing firms offered training in some form involving a variety of approaches.

Online courses, coding boot camps and other educational offerings focus on giving job seekers a boost whether they are seeking full-time or contingent roles. Companies are taking it on themselves to train workers in light of the intractable skills gap.

The Skills Gap

Talk about the skills gap surfaced more than a decade ago. And the problem has only gotten worse. The Conference Board found that 80% of businesses hiring mostly industrial and manual services workers reported difficulty finding qualified workers, with 25% reporting it is very difficult. Prior to the pandemic, 74% reported difficulty finding qualified workers with 4% reporting it was very difficult.

“Before the pandemic, industry and manual services workers were high in demand and short in supply. While this changed at the onset of the pandemic, as the economy reopens this trend is resurfacing — and fast,” Frank Steemers, report co-author and senior economist at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

Different Flavors

The staffing industry is in a unique position to influence training models while providing candidates to its clients, so training at staffing firms takes a variety of forms. One staffing supplier, EmployBridge, provides training to blue-collar workers through an online program that teaches everything from electrical and blueprint reading to Microsoft Word; participants can even earn a high school diploma. The program is aimed at upskilling workers and it’s available to a client company’s full-time employees as well.

Another firm, Aquent, offers online classes focused on IT and design that are available to anybody regardless of whether they work for a staffing firm.

The Adecco Group acquired training platform General Assembly in 2018 and operates the Modis Academy for IT and engineering skills training.

Some staffing firms are also able to produce specialty programs to train workers.

However, many staffing firms are waiting on the sidelines, watching to see how this training game plays out. SIA’s report “North America Staffing Company Survey 2020” found that 43% didn’t offer training for temporary workers. But others are taking on the challenge and making great inroads in providing skilled candidates. And in some countries, such as France, programs are set up to train temporary workers with staffing firms making contributions.

Among staffing buyers, evidence indicates that a focus on training is still in the early stages of catching on. A survey by City & Guilds Group found that 20% of UK employers in 2019 said they didn’t carry out any training for contingent workers.

The fact is, many elements are needed to provide training correctly. It requires development of a curriculum, an intake process and compensating trainees — an investment that must be recouped. The question remains, however, on whether offering of training can become a dominant trend that can address the talent shortage at scale.

Part two of this article will discuss an emerging training model in the IT space called recruit-train-deploy.