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Accessing Untapped Talent

Labor Shortage Presents Opportunity for Overlooked Candidates 

By Paul Vachon

Addressing the labor challenges of today’s economy requires creative thinking. Fortunately, the Detroit area is home to a large talent pool. It also includes a wealth of agencies and organizations dedicated to helping employers access that talent, including by finding qualified, skilled candidates who are often overlooked, such as returning citizens and people with disabilities.

The Detroiter asked representatives of a few of these organizations to comment on how workforce recruitment is changing or needs to change.

SARAH GREGORY

Gregory explains that employers need to attack the problem from two angles: developing talent and proactively accessing it because “those relying on traditional strategies will struggle.”

Southeast Michigan has many high caliber workforce programs which can provide quality talent to labor strapped companies – but they have to know where to look. The Detroit Regional Partnership is helping employers looking to locate in the region navigate and connect to these untapped talent pools.

“We meet employers where they are in their recruitment strategy, then take it a step further,” said Gregory.

COLLEEN ALLEN

Allen explains that by creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities, businesses can broaden their DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) expression. These moves are not only socially progressive, but also good business.

“We have good data that shows that the myths surrounding hiring people with disabilities are just that—myths. We have productivity, attendance, and turnover data that backs this up.”

Allen says that the role of her organization has changed. Instead of advocating for employing those with disabilities, these companies are now approaching her office in search for needed workers due to the difficulty in finding candidates.

KARYN GOVEN

Pay is an important concern. “If jobs don’t start off at fifteen or sixteen dollars and hour, people are not going to bite,” said Goven.

Southwest Solutions assists long-term unemployed and returning citizens with foundational skills: customer service, resume writing, interviewing and other professional and career-readiness skills.

The organization structures its programs to provide foundational skills building before connecting clients with formal technical training, like CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) or HVAC.

JOCELYN LINCOLN

Too many barriers to employment exist for too many people, according to Lincoln, which is the focus of the Kelly 33 initiative.

“We must knock down these barriers and make it easier to attract talent. That’s why we launched Kelly 33, which connects talented job seekers who have a blemish on their criminal record with employers in need of their skills,” said Lincoln.

This program falls under Kelly’s Equity@Work initiative, which is focused on ensuring everyone has the opportunity to improve their lives through meaningful work. •

Paul Vachon is a freelance writer in Metro Detroit.