Helping Employers Solve Talent Issues

Manufacturing Council meeting highlights ways the Partnership is working with area companies to build sustainable talent pipelines. 

It is the number one concern of employers in Western New York, the common pain point – how do companies find and retain qualified talent?

The Manufacturing Council’s first meeting of 2020 presented solutions as the Partnership continues to strengthen its commitment to helping employers with this collective obstacle.

“Over the past three years, 25% of our total budget has been pointed specifically to helping employers with their talent challenges,” explained Dottie Gallagher, president and CEO of the Partnership, in opening the presentation.  “From our BN360 program for young professionals to diversity and inclusion efforts to Employ Buffalo Niagara, we are building on resources employers can tap for developing, recruiting and retaining talent.”

Scott Pallotta, CEO of Zehnder-Rittling in Buffalo, a manufacturer of commercial HVAC equipment, and Katya Kroll-Haeick, Director of Youth Programming at The Service Collaborative of WNY

Gallagher noted that there is no one size fits all solution nor can one company solve this workforce challenge on its own. However, an exciting initiative is growing across the United States called Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) that puts the employers in the driver’s seat of workforce development.  In short, TPM builds talent supply chains aligned to ever-changing business needs. TPM is proving to be a success across the country and the Partnership has begun to implement the program in Western New York, with an initial focus on the manufacturing sector.

Joining the Movement

TPM was started by the United States Chamber of Commerce in 2014 as a supply chain model of talent development that is led by employers. TPM focuses on employer needs, creates demand projections of what talent is needed and when, maps the best talent sources, and then sets up the supply chain of talent.

The Partnership is an early adopter of the TPM movement, with Laura Smith, vice president of economic development, involved since 2015. Smith is now a TPM fellow on the National Learning Network board of advisors for the U.S. Chamber. As the initiative has grown, the Partnership has added to our workforce development team including Juliana Janson, Vice President of Talent Programs, Bernadette Aja, Director of Talent Pipeline Management, and Caitlin Sutton, Manager of Workforce Development.

The TPM work is funded by Partnership members and support by the Wilson Foundation, demonstrating the commitment of our members and the business community to move our economy forward.

Shared Pain Points

Gallagher explained that the TPM process can only work with employers that share a common pain point and are willing to work together to solve it.

“Employers must come to the understanding that stealing someone else’s employee is not a sustainable talent strategy,” she said. “In order to have the talent that they need tomorrow, the have got to get more fish in the pond – more qualified candidates in the talent pool.”

As an example, Gallagher shared a success story involving nursing shortages in Phoenix, Arizona. Population growth in that city, including an aging population, combined with projections showing one million nurses planning to retire in the next decade or so, resulted in the shortage. Hospitals tried to solve the problem on their own. Traveling nurses were hired to fill gaps. It wasn’t working.

When the nine health care employers agreed to work together using the TPM process, they realized the lack of specialty nurses was contributing to the lack of general nurses. Using the process, they determined the common competencies across specialty areas and co-invested in training programs to meet those competencies. In doing so, they built a talent pipeline for specialty nursing – together. And it is working.

The Phoenix example resulted in a shared talent pool formed from an upskilling program that is anticipated to graduate 300 students this year.

Six Steps

The TPM process generally follows a six step process to develop needed talent and build a talent pool for employers.

  1. Find employers who want to be part of an employer collaborative.
  2. Engage in demand planning – survey employers to determine hiring needs over the next two years.
  3. Communicate competencies and credentials – determine what is actually required by the employers.
  4. Analyze talent flows – determine what are the best sources of talent for members of the collaborative.
  5. Build out the talent supply chain – determine who are the partners to work with to develop this pipeline, the education and training providers, etc.
  6. Continuous improvement – find opportunities for improvement and acceleration of the program to meet demand.
It’s happening in Buffalo Niagara

Powered by the Partnership and the TPM process, a cross-sector collaborative is currently underway to build a talent pool for customer service employees in Buffalo Niagara. Four area employers with this shared pain point – the inability to find talent equipped with soft skills appropriate for customer service roles – have come together to start a pilot program to address the issue.

Prior to this collaborative, the Partnership worked with four local manufacturers to form a collaborative aimed at building a talent pool of technicians with the skills necessary to fill a range of production positions.

Scott Pallotta, CEO of Zehnder-Rittling in Buffalo, a manufacturer of commercial HVAC equipment, and Katya Kroll-Haeick, Director of Youth Programming at The Service Collaborative of WNY, joined the Manufacturing Council meeting to talk about their work with the collaborative – Pathways to Production.

In Part II of of our TPM post, we will hear what they have to say about the program and how it is progressing to this point. Please check back for part II.

In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about TPM, please fill out our online request form.

Thank you to the Manufacturing Council Sponsors:

Bank on Buffalo

Related Posts