Could innovative recruitment agencies close IT skills gaps?

One certainty looms in the future of work: All positions will require continuous upskilling.
By: | April 29, 2020 • 5 min read
(Photo by Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

With almost 1 million job openings in the technology sector near the end of 2019, many businesses wonder how to attract tech talent. Tech giant Amazon recently started growing its own talent when it partnered with Virginian public universities and community colleges to offer a degree in cloud computing.

Most businesses, unlike Amazon, can’t walk into universities demanding tech degrees built around their business needs. But don’t you wish you could? Innovative IT recruitment agencies make just that promise. They’ll recruit the talent, custom-tailor training built to fit your business needs and then contract their recruits out to you.

Advertisement

What Sets Innovative Recruitment Agencies Apart

Unlike other staffing agencies, these recruitment agencies target either recent graduates or students in their last semester of college. Then, they hire them, paying salary and benefits. For approximately 12 weeks, agencies train their recruits to learn whatever niche IT skills their clients need (in-demand coding languages, data science) using proprietary curriculum and training processes. Then, the agency contracts its newly trained recruits out to their business partners.

Recent grads love this model because it gives them a clear path from school to work. Research by Burning Glass shows up to 50% of some majors remain underemployed five years after graduation, while only 18% of computer science grads do. Less in-demand majors reap the biggest benefits from recruitment agencies offering custom-training because their path to employment often proves to be less direct.

How Agencies Create Risk-Free Recruitment

When 83% of HR professionals report difficulty recruiting the right talent to SHRM, companies don’t just need a recruitment strategy anymore. They need a talent pipeline.

By closely partnering with their clients, recruitment agency training programs create a talent pipeline. Clients tell the agency exactly what skills they need, then the agency trains recruits for this specific client. Employers then receive employees with exactly the applied skills needed to run their businesses.

Even though custom-trained employees ramp up to productivity more quickly, the biggest benefit to employers remains a truly risk-free hiring solution. With this “try it before you buy it” model, companies can either hire great recruits (after a specified period with the agency) or send anyone who doesn’t fit their business needs back to the agency. This model also translates into cost-savings. Revanture, a tech recruitment agency, says its business partners save 20% over directly hiring employees because Revanture reduces the expenses of in-house recruitment and training programs, and also lowers the lost income from mis-hires.

Added Bonus of Outsourcing the Onboarding

Technical skills remain one recruitment challenge, but recent grads often need help adjusting to employer culture and even officework itself. They lack soft skills, such as communication, time management, persuasion and teamwork. Agencies provide their recruits with a mentor to coach them on soft and hard skills while employed with the agency. Employers benefit by receiving a productive office employee, without expending resources on an internal mentorship program.

Training Industry’s 2019 report, U.S. Trends and Applications in Employee Onboarding, found advanced onboarding programs yielded two to three times better results than basic ones. Since these recruitment agencies provide mentoring for the duration of the employee’s time at the agency, they offer many of the same benefits found in advanced onboarding programs. Here are the top three ways the report found it improved business results:

  1. Employee engagement among new hires rose to 58%.
  2. Job readiness among new hires increased to 51%.
  3. Time to productivity for new hires rose to 48%.

The same report also found advanced onboarding programs cost companies approximately 25% more in administration expenses.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Recruitment Agency

The most important factor is whether the agency can teach its recruits the tech skills required by your business. Some agencies specialize in specific industry technology, such as mThree, which offers skills unique to financial technology. Other agencies, such as Revature, focus on training software developers.

Hiring a recruitment agency specializing in custom training is more like finding a business partner, rather than hiring an employee. You’ll develop a relationship with them to find the best talent for your unique business needs. Here are a few key questions to ask before deciding to go with any one agency:

  • Is this agency a fit for your corporate culture?
  • Do they understand your core business?
  • Can their training programs meet your needs?
  • Will they work with your hiring team?

At the end of the day, your relationship will either help you find the best talent for your needs or cause more confusion in your hiring process. Like any hire, it’s less expensive to get it right the first time.

Are Innovative Recruitment Agencies the Future of Work?

Recruitment agencies offering custom-trained talent have built a role for themselves in the future of work. Businesses want a talent pipeline for hard-to-staff positions. Students want a direct path from school to work. As a bonus, their mentorship programs promote retention. It’s a win-win for employees and employers.

Advertisement

But agencies often only work with recruits for a short time. What happens when they’re gone? How will employers retain employees then? Will they have the training infrastructure in place to help full-time employees make the transition from new-hire to industry expert?

One certainty looms in the future of work. All positions will require continuous upskilling. While recruitment agencies serve a need, employers risk relying on them too heavily. The Goldilocks principle applies to this situation. Businesses should use recruitment agencies enough to build a talent pipeline, but not so much that they don’t invest in their own HR programs. At the end of the day, even though these recruitment agencies custom-train new hires, they’re still primarily staffing agencies, not a complete L&D business solution.

Celeste Martinell is the vice president of customer success for BenchPrep, a configurable cloud-based learning platform for corporations, training organizations and nonprofits. Celeste has served in senior client management and client partnership roles in the education and technology space for the last 20 years. Throughout her career, Martinell has established herself as a proven commodity in building and leading successful customer-facing teams.