Opportunity Knocks: Lessons Learned From Leveraging Opportunity Population Talent
In light of labor shortages, businesses are looking to expand their talent pools and open their doors to traditionally marginalized groups. There is much to learn from the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM) partners that aim to improve the inclusion of opportunity population (OP) talent.
The Foundation defines Opportunity Populations as individuals with limited access to educational and professional opportunities who face major barriers to employment and career advancement. The TPM® framework helps develop career opportunities for OP talent because it was built to connect classroom to career and fill the gaps in the workforce.
The Foundation collected case studies from some of its TPM® partners and compiled them in the Opportunity Knocks report to shed light on the following five lessons to leverage OP talent:
Consider TPM® a versatile framework.
Looking at TPM® as a versatile framework helped our partners recognize critical actions to improve job opportunities for OP talent.
TPM® helped equine employers in Kentucky seek new partners, which led them to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Second Chances Program. This case study shows how the TPM® framework can forge and strengthen connections to OP talent.
Strong partnerships with organizations providing wraparound services are critical for success.
Service providers that offer wraparound services—comprehensive, holistic support—help employers better understand and connect with their OP talent.
Consumer Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, formed strong relationships with provider partners to supply them with candidates for its electric line worker training program and help the utility better understand the barriers restricting its access to OP talent.
As new obstacles surface, listen to the data.
Challenges arise in any situation, and they should be expected. Employers need to be flexible in addressing how they affect their overall goals.
San Diego’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has an initiative to increase Hispanic talent participation in software engineering jobs. EDC overcame barriers to its OP talent after rethinking the signals it was sending by requiring a college degree for entry-level positions.
Build initiatives to reach targeted talent.
Even if an initiative has been implemented, it does not necessarily mean that engagement with OP talent will be high. Programs need feedback from their intended audiences to be successful.
Initiatives at DTE Energy, a Detroit-based utility, experienced this when the number of people of color signing up for its pilot offerings was much lower than expected. This was due to a lack of information about the program’s existence.
Seek opportunities to replicate your success.
Program frameworks that increase access to OP talent will likely grow and be replicated in other industry sectors.
The equine industry in Kentucky has developed program templates for second chance employment that can be applied to employers in other sectors like manufacturing and construction.
The case studies in the Opportunity Knocks report show how the TPM® framework can leverage valuable OP talent and fill the gaps in the workforce. The report is a starting point for employers to realize the value of OP talent and ways to form connections.