Emerging talent is the future of every workforce. All well and good... with just one hurdle. Large enterprise companies have to spend massive amounts of time and money before college graduates are ready to excel in their enterprise tech environment.
That’s why emerging talent training programs like mthree Alumni have become so popular in recent years.
Last-mile training bridges the technology skills gap, turning graduates with raw potential into professionals who contribute to the bottom line.
For the graduates, it’s a huge, life-altering decision. They put their trust in training companies to teach them the necessary skills, place them at a reputable company in an agreeable location, and give them the logo on their resume that will jump-start their IT career.
We recognize that all emerging talent training companies work hard to meet a genuine need on both sides of the market. Everyone has the right intentions.
But if you scratch the surface, you’ll find a lot of variance in the execution among different providers. The candidates we speak to often comment that our Alumni program sounds “too good to be true”.
When you look at the negative stereotypes, this isn’t a surprise.
Delivering industry-led training to graduates requires an investment of time, effort and money. To protect this investment, some providers restrict their trainees’ freedom to leave their placement– or not allow them to have a say in where they go in the first place.
OK, this makes logical sense, and when everything goes to plan, it gives clients the retention percentages that they crave.
But it’s not the only way to reduce the risks associated with taking on emerging talent. What’s more, it fails to acknowledge the fact that humans and organizations are sometimes… well... complicated.
As we often find ourselves emphasizing to clients and candidates alike, that’s not the way we do things at mthree.
We generally arrange placements for 12 to 24 months as part of our Alumni graduate program. However, there are no lock-in clauses in our contracts.
The Alumni are free to leave at any point, without any fines. We want our trainees to want to be here. That’s better for them, and it’s better for the client.
We do issue training agreements and contracts of employment to reflect the relationship, but the binding article is not the legalese. It’s the ambition and commitment of the graduates and the mthree team.
In tandem with each line manager, we customize each placement with a continuous development program to help the Alumni grow into a permanent role. This shows them that they’re valued and that both the client and mthree are invested in their long-term success when they convert to FTE.
The point is, when you’re focused on finding the right fit for a graduate in terms of role and client environment, you don’t need a training bond. You’re giving someone a genuine opportunity to start their career, and that’s reason enough to stick around.
So does the lack of a training bond mean we’ve got a revolving door of Alumni coming and going, wasting everyone’s time? No.
More than 90% of our graduates stay in situ for two years or more. Not just throughout their Alumni placement, but afterwards too, when the client has the option to hire them as their own full-time employee.
And on the off-chance that it doesn’t work out? Well… human beings are complicated, organizations are complicated, why pretend otherwise? Remy Ligeika, Head of HR Operations at mthree, recently helped an Alumni offboard from his placement as a software developer in Tampa, Florida.
“He woke up one day and realized he wanted to become a police officer instead. It doesn’t often happen, but sometimes people decide that their dream job lies elsewhere. We supported his decision when he resigned. People should be able to leave with dignity.”
That’s not to say it’s not disappointing, or that we don’t try to find a resolution. More commonly, Remy explains, the issue is that the fit isn’t quite right. Although the Alumni still have the option to leave, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road.
“We’ve helped Alumni transition into a different role, either with the same client or with another client, and always backfilling the original role. Nobody has to lose out.”
Five-figure training bonds are problematic enough, to begin with. Let alone holding people on the hook for training that isn’t worth the money.
All our trainers at mthree Academy have at least a decade of relevant experience, whether in industry or education. You’ll never find someone who’s only recently been trained at our Academy becoming an instructor themselves.
We encourage our candidates to be “geo-flexible” for the sake of finding the opportunity they’ve been searching for – but we never impose it.
We always check that a candidate in our talent pool is comfortable with the location of the role before we put them forward to the client. If they’re not, we don’t wash our hands of them, we continue to offer them other options.
Many of our trainees are hired for a specific role in a specific place. In those cases, we have the conversation with them upfront.
If we tell a trainee that their role is with a Fortune 500 client, we mean it.
It’s not fair to lure candidates in with that promise when you really mean you’ll place them with a low-cost IT integrator that the Fortune 500 client uses as a subcontractor. That tactic might work to get people through the door, but ultimately it leads to disappointment, disillusionment, and a high churn rate.
Every company promises a “competitive salary”. And we admit, it’s a difficult one.
We strive to align our salaries to the conditions in the local market, keeping them under constant review. The starting salary for an Alumni role may not always top the charts compared to similar jobs, but it builds up quickly over time.
Our employment contracts include performance-linked pay rises every 6 months throughout the Alumni’s time onsite. We participate in appraisals along with their line manager, as well as checking in with them regularly to ensure we’re doing all we can to support their progress.
More than 95% of Alumni achieve their pay rises as expected. And if they don’t, we give them another three months to turn things around and then get the pay rise.
We do this because we feel it’s a fair way to recognise the commitment on both sides to launching a young person’s career – without any nasty catches.
As a training partner that doesn’t charge upfront fees, it’s true that we’d rather not lose a graduate we’ve poured a lot of TLC into. Who would?
Nevertheless, our Alumni are free to go and work for any other company on the street, as long as they’re not a direct competitor of mthree or our clients.
Our employment contracts include a non-compete clause. It’s a standard restrictive covenant like you’d expect to find in many other jobs. It’s not there to “punish” the Alumni by blocking their access to similar roles elsewhere.
Are we perfect? No. We’re always looking for ways to improve what we do. For one, we learned a lot from the mistake we made in last year’s initiative to provide free, fully remote training during coronavirus. We hold up our hands that the execution wasn’t our finest hour.
But we’ve never believed in forcing a square peg into a round hole, or trying to recoup our costs by charging young people an eye-watering sum if a job happens not to work out. We choose to prevent this proactively – through effective matchmaking, fair contracts and quality training – rather than retrospectively.
This approach not only works, it scales. In 2020 mthree joined Wiley, a leader in research, publishing and education for over 200 years. It has proven to be the perfect match given both of the companies long time values that have focused on the experience and outcome for the learner. We’re looking forward to helping more organizations across the globe future-proof their workforce through emerging talent training.
Interested in our Alumni solution, or want to find out more about how we do business at mthree? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.