By Pavel Podkorytov, Founder of TalentService
The labor shortage that we are facing will not simply resolve over time if we sit by and wait. While it would likely get better eventually, businesses cannot afford to be idle and just hope that skilled workers come to them. This is especially true for startups because these companies rely so entirely on time and innovation to become established.
The solution to the shortage of qualified workers and the need for an inspired, motivated workforce is for companies to take a more proactive approach.
The answer is a collaboration between businesses and universities. This doesn’t necessarily mean extensive charity work (though some freebies are a positive thing to give). Instead, companies should develop partnerships with universities with large student populations that have the potential to add the right skillsets to the company in the future.
ROI: What Businesses Gain By Investing in Educational Partnerships
Companies are often incredibly focused on their bottom line and maximizing returns on any investment. This is, of course, a sound business strategy. However, some teams may overlook the positive effects of investing time and resources into establishing lasting relationships with local universities.
It’s important to remember that these partnerships don’t necessarily have to be primarily money-based. Universities need more than funds; they also need passionate leaders from all different spheres of industry to motivate their kids and give them a concrete goal to work toward.
In return, businesses that handle their partnerships well can cultivate a team of juniors who are laser-focused on becoming skilled assets to the companies that have invested in their future.
So then, the question becomes how to begin developing a strategy around creating these relationships. The partnership can be as involved as a business wishes. This can mean the company sends team members to give lectures and attend events, or a company can simply organize an annual event specifically designed to meet a need.
Four Essential Benefits of Collaborating With Universities
There are four primary values that businesses of all stripes can gain through investing the right resources into university relationships.
A sustainable, impactful culture is a direct return that all businesses get from these collaborations. The culture is formed both within the company and the student body receiving the time investment.
Among team members, those who invest their time teaching others will feel more connected to each other and their cause. They will feel a reason to get up and be excited to come to work. So many of us are looking for a more meaningful purpose in our work, and this kind of partnership gives that purpose in spades.
The excitement and passion of those team members are infectious, and it has a trickle-down effect on the rest of your company.
It also instills a sense of purpose, drive and loyalty into the students who receive your time and influence. You help shape their mindset, and they feel a deeper connection to your company’s mission.
Anyone can pay a headhunter, but there is no guarantee that this will effectively allocate resources. The lack of qualified talent is real, and it has a severe impact on businesses every day.
Ultimately, the upfront cost of investing in a university partnership might be more significant than paying a headhunter. However, consider the cost of every hiring mistake you’ve made. Additionally, think of the ongoing cost of retraining someone to match your team, and remember that talent isn’t always enough to make a qualified candidate a good fit.
When you invest in the future of students who have been preselected for their intelligence, drive, ambition and willingness to learn, you’re guaranteed to reap future team members who have a deep well of ideas and passion to commit to your company. It also develops a special bond between the company and the employee, the loyalty levels are much higher.
3. Thought Leadership
Being seen as a thought leader in your space and the higher education system brings its own set of rewards. When you position your business as an investor in education, you are immediately showing the world exactly what your values are and where you place importance.
Choosing to develop partnerships with the best universities positions you as an expert and a wellspring of valuable insights and competencies that others can look to.
4. Social Mission
Having a strong social impact is the core of every successful business. We need our communities to thrive, which means it’s an essential part of every business strategy to look beyond the bottom line.
Everyone is in business to make money, but that doesn’t mean it can or should be the sole purpose of a company. It’s noble and right to want to look beyond ourselves to see what kind of good we can do for the world with our business’ influence and resources. 67 percent of employees prefer to work for a socially inclined company, and a strong sense of social responsibility can reduce turnover by as much as 50 percent.
I ask myself, “What are you doing to give back today?” We have currently trained between 7-10,000 students. Of course, only a small portion of those students are a part of our team now, but what we’ve invested in the rest holds plenty of value in its own right.
Even if you are not directly benefiting from the training you give a student, they might be developing their own groundbreaking ideas or creating something to make the market better and more competitive. Your investment has a ripple effect, and this is the kind of foundation that solid corporate culture can be built upon.
Connect and Collaborate to Create a Better Workforce
Businesses can start with two potential areas to reach out to universities. First, there are usually specific departments that align best with your brand. They may also have particular departments or committees that handle industry partnerships.
Companies can also seek out people within the university who share their interests. For example, if your business focuses on graphic design, seek out connections with professors who teach or specialize in that arena. If you work with medical AI, see if there is overlap between the tech, engineering and science departments to make connections there.
Remember that the goal is not solely to shore up your own business. Of course, your company should see a definitive ROI from the partnerships you create, but your purpose is larger than this. The shortage of skilled labor will only become more desperate if industry leaders do not step up to intervene.
Collaborating with universities is the key to improving our entire workforce and our economy as a whole.