The Talent Shortage with Kip Wright – StaffingREEL Podcast Ep. 1
Welcome to StaffingREEL, the podcast for everything staffing. We look forward to sharing highly relevant content from across the staffing ecosystem. Let’s welcome our first guest, Kip Wright, CEO of Genuent and Talent Path, a division of Genuent. Kip speaks to us about the talent shortage, recognizing that our current situation will evolve and we will all be back searching for hard-to-find candidates.
00:00:00 – 00:05:05
Welcome to StaffingREEL. S.J.Hemley Marketing’s podcast for everything staffing. This Podcast is a labor of love as we’ve been wanting to roll out a source that brings a wide array of knowledge from experts in the staffing industry sharing their thoughts on where the industry is going, specific areas of staffing, talent marketing, recruitment, sales and more. I’m Larry Henley, President of S.J. Hemley Marketing, and I’m excited to launch our podcast with our special guest Kip Wright, CEO of Genuent and Talent Path, a division of Genuent. Kip with everything going on in the world right now, I really appreciate you taking the time today. Thanks glad to be here. So let’s jump right into it today. We are discussing the ever-growing talent shortage and how it can and is being addressed. Kip, let’s kick off with telling everybody a little bit about your background. Can you share with us? Yes Larry thanks again for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and insights on this topic and as far as my background I have been in the staffing industry now for well over twenty five twenty eight years if do my math correctly. It’s somewhere in that neighborhood actually came out of college. I’m LSU Tigers so still celebrating our national championship but came out of LSU and went to work for Ernst and Young in the accounting finance field which gave me the entree to begin to see some of the inner workings of how a company manages US operations. That was Kinda my initial exposure into the business world. I was very fortunate enough to find an IT staffing and IT Solutions Company in Houston Texas a company called BSG which gave me the opportunity to move directly into the industry side and to see how services company support their clients and in particular at BSG, support their clients technology related solutions. Along the path of my career I’ve had the opportunity to do everything from running finance organizations to running acquisitions of various staffing companies and working for clients companies like Core Staff. Meta more worldwide, Comsys, Manpower Group and now recently running my own company at Genuent so I’ve had a really storied career. And that’s been in virtually all sectors of the space light-industrial clerical staffing, admin finance staffing, technology staffing, solutions business, workforce management as I was fortunate enough to build a contingent workforce management company called tap-in along the way. Excellent so got a tremendous background in staffing. So I mean what made you stay in the industry? Yeah Larry it’s interesting because you never grow up saying you want to be a staffing executive. You grow up saying you like to be a doctor or lawyer or firefighter, staffing is never used in that equation. For me, what was most intriguing about the staffing industry is the value that we give back and the benefit we give to those that we support. Our clients obviously helping them to fulfill their business objectives, whether that’s on the temporary basis or helping them to evaluate talent that they might long-term hire into the organization and for the individual consultant or associate the opportunity to help them find their next job whether that job leads to full time whether that job helps them along their path of gaining the experience that they want for their long term career goals. Either way, you’re doing something very beneficial and you’re putting two parties together who need and who benefit from that connection and that’s why for me staffing has been such an important piece of my life and has kept me really engaged. I completely agree. I mean so. You’ve run so many different organizations in the space. How has that shaped your knowledge and understanding or current philosophies with how you run Genuent and Talent Path? That’s an interesting thing. For First and foremost let me address the different industries I’ve had. The fact that I’ve been able to run a light Industrial clerical staffing organization gave me the exposure to a very different pool of resources to very different type of work provided exposure and and the understanding and the sympathy or empathy so to speak for the challenging nature of those types of job opportunities. And so recognizing that it has a very different impact both on the company that they’re working for but also the individual and they’re very specific livelihood. You look at careers or skills like finance and accounting or technology, IT staffing, you recognize that the type of opportunities that they’re very different as a much more intense focus on the individual skill sets than on the availability and the reliability of the workforce quality becomes a very different issue and for the consultant. What becomes really important is benefiting them on their career path? How does that next job, how does that next logo that they’ll be working for truly enrich their ability to continue their career to improve their earnings potential over time and to work for companies that they feel we’re going to benefit them personally. Well by the way I’m going to throw loop at you but you actually create your own blog about leadership and leading right?
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Just tell us a little bit about what made you kinda go down that road. Yeah you asked the question about what made me creatively right and leadership blog and it’s interesting because I’ve always been one that’s a student of leadership that, like any good leader would do, I read intensely and continuously and try to absorb as much as I. I developed philosophies along the way, philosophies that have been shaped by some of the best cultural leaders, people like Simon Sinek and some of the best strategy leaders like Peter Drucker and Michael Porter. You know all of those things have shaped how I look at the business strategy how I look at culture and how I look at forming and Building Organization and frankly managing, managing individuals and the impact that has on their own personal journey and so for me. Leading right was opportunity to share some of those insights. They are insights meant often for an individual or a group of individuals that I know need to hear that message. They are not intended to be strictly about business or leadership. In a business context they really relate to the whole concept of leadership as an individual leadership leading groups leading organizations leading in your own life and how you facilitate it. And so for me leading was the opportunity to do that really pleased I get to share that through a virtual medium on a frequent basis. Nice, so today the world is changing and the reality is that we’ve all been dealing with a staffing shortage or talent shortage depending on who asked the question or who makes the statement. But why don’t we just kind of talk about that Buzzword you know? What is the talent shortage and why does it matter? Yeah it’s interesting and I want to disqualify this as we dive into this topic because literally as we speak we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and so clearly the concept of talent shortage when where confining individuals to remote working to smaller groups when you’re starting to see the potential for employment to be impacted certainly in industries like air fare, hospitality and leisure, oil and gas. All of those are going to suffer some challenges in the short term and so we have to keep in mind that talent shortage is a much broader longer-term concept than it may be an acute issue at the moment so let’s look at it at a broader context and for me the concept of talent shortages that is organizations look to find the right individuals with the right skill sets at the right time for their business needs oftentimes are fundamental challenges that prevent them from doing that. That could simply be the number of resources that are out in the marketplace available at any point in time and we had been benefited up to this point from incredibly low unemployment rate. Since there’s clearly that’s going to impact that to you look at talent shortage from a long-term perspective which says okay, I know that industries are creating the demand for these types of skills in the workforce and that that demand is going to be systematic and will continue. I mean you look at the at the ways in which talent is being developed to meet that demand the educational systems trade schools, other things like that and there just aren’t enough of those resources that that issue of talent supply becomes even more problems. I mean think about this again with the with the shift towards a lot of online shopping virtual shopping. The availability of commercial drivers, drivers they can drive these large rigs across the country and deliver the goods for virtually every organization that selling them Amazon, Target, Walmart, you name it. That’s talent shortage. You can look within the technology space and see that with the rise of technical needs with the merchants of cloud the emergence of mobile with the focus on big data the need and the consumption for talent in the technical side is immense and universities aren’t producing enough of those resources. So you think about talent shortage looked at that on a macro basis and recognize that there are and will in an interim period of time where they may not be the case there will always be significant challenges in certain areas when it comes to talent. Well like we were talking about before the shortage, right now we’re in kind of unprecedented time period but the reality is it always comes back and when it comes back it’s going to come back quite vigorously regardless of our current time period. I think talent shortage will always be something that we look at it and staffing world. Would you agree? Yeah I I would. I would absolutely agree with that. I think if you look back historically with any recovery yes you generally have a sharp downturn 2001, 2002 time period 2008 time period you know. He went back even further than that. They’re always periods when the drop is fairly significant but you can always look several years beyond that and the increase is disproportionately more than where it was prior to the drop.
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So yes I think if you look at the cycles over time clearly talent talent shortage there’s going to be an issue that will be stuck with for a long period of time. Absolutely. You currently run an IT company so tell us a little bit more about the specific shortages in it. Yeah it’s interesting I allotted to that earlier with my answer to the prior question. But when you look at some of the trends in technology and I mentioned them with things like cloud computing mobile pushing a lot of information commerce to the individual consumer from that perspective because really important to have the types of enterprise level software applications to do that the number of transactions the measurement of everything and anything from information on social media all the way through to transactions how you consume what you buy provides an immense amount of data that organizations are beginning to mind to look at it and see how they can use that to improve their business outcomes so and I could I could go on and on but I think the point being is we are clearly seeing a digital and technical revolution that is continuing to change how we as consumers buy changing how organizations plan this changing. How organizations distributed actually sell their products. And so the consumption of technical resources has increased at a pretty significant rate. So let’s just take the US. In particular a couple years ago with senator did a study on this and noted that at any point in time we’ve got well over a million unfilled IT roles in the country. That’s a pretty staggering number. And then you take into account that as an economy we have been producing a net new increase of over two hundred thousand technology roles every year so adding to that one to one point two million deficit this already there every year we’re adding another two hundred thousand to it. Now what’s been able to balance that? Well a couple of things. Universities collectively across the country are pretty singing graduating somewhere around eighty thousand MIS and CIS graduates to have technical degrees. In addition to that we previously had a current they have I should say although it’s been modified a remote or foreign worker policy that allowed us to bring workers in under h. One B. and similar types of programs. You could bring in sixty five thousand and up to another twenty thousand that had masters crinoline degrees so that was another eighty five thousand but even one hundred sixty eight hundred sixty five thousand net new technologists that are being created within the country to fulfill two hundred thousand net new jobs so that deficit accumulates over time and has continued to get worse and in fact within our company we certainly saw that back in two thousand seventeen timeframe. We were noticing that trying to keep up with the demand finding the right talent in the marketplace that frankly just wasn’t there and once we found those resources being able to get the clients to move quickly enough to act on that talent before that talent chose other options in which case they had plenty. That was becoming a real challenge. And that’s part of the calculus bind where we have a lead the company today. And we talk about the traditional models and you mentioned obviously the universities and h. One B. and things of that nature. What are the traditional models in the marketplace? Well they’ve another different traditional models in the marketplace fundamental model out there that Most organizations uses they go out. They develop their own internal recruiting team recruitment organization and they Dower the market and look for opportunities to hire talent directly into the organization secondly the entire staffing industry has emerged as an alternative or solution to helping companies to do that and most staffing firms engaged on a contract as needed basis and so an organization can work with a staffing company. And say I need to find this resource with this level of guilt sat and I want that resource for six weeks six months nine months. Whatever the case is and their offshoots of that Where companies can engage staffing firms to not only do that on a temporary basis but on a full-time basis we recruit permanently and then Even more so you’ve seen the emergence of new solutions like recruitment process outsourcing, work Service Companies, Build out the recruiting process within an organization and help them find that full-time Labor so contract full-time all of that is part of what I’ve always Faust is looking at your workforce much more holistic fashion and beginning to plan organization and recognize the benefits and the values and the challenges with each of those varies engage models and to find the right blended solution for you. Where we are today however is that those traditional models may not be enough particularly when the talent simply isn’t there whether or not you have an internal recruiting team.
00:15:02 – 00:20:22
Actively going out to that and outsource recruiting team a staffing firm. If you’re still drawing from the same pool of talent and that talent is insufficient. It’s not going to meet the needs. And I think that’s really where traditional models started to show gaps that other models are going to need to fill. So why are they falling short? Availability resources it’s pure and simple. I’m you many in many situations and I’m going to take technology because that is certainly where we are focusing our attention but if those resources simply aren’t there and they’re not trained trained adequately and they don’t have the right skill sets the right technical skills you are looking for the organizations have choices at least in. Today’s model one is bill without or two. They have to hire resource without those skill sets and they have to develop those skills train those skills themselves were. You mentioned the universities in the educational system and so quick question for you, I mean how are they contributing to the challenge? The interesting thing about university systems, and I want to be very careful, they are an invaluable part of what our society and what business relies upon. And so when I talk about some of the deficiencies in that network you know in that infrastructure so to speak is not because they aren’t producing some measure quality. Think the biggest challenge that universities have today is the speed at which they can react and conversely the speed at which deals education technical expectations when you talk specifically about my space is moving so quickly that universities can’t pivot quick enough to do that. I mean our old institutional model is that you go your K through twelve and then you move into higher education not higher. Education is very specifically structured to your associate four year bachelor’s five and a half six year master’s plus but even within those they are very general skills you’re going and getting a bsn counting or in. Business Administration in finance or even if you go into the technical side you’re getting an MIS management information systems computer information systems degree. They can only train you generically on the types of platform type types of skills that they know you’re going to universally need but when it comes to very specific needs like I need someone who has tableau Visualization skills knows how to use the tableau platform or can come out and program very specifically using .Net or Java in a cloud environment. The university’s haven’t built for that and so that presents the gap that exists where companies are looking for very specific skills at a very specific point in time and universities haven’t been able to get them that last mile. And that’s where my focus as of recent has been targeted to. Well I know we’re all looking for different solutions to address the talent shortage. But what are some of the new models emerging in the space? We’re seeing today more and more the willingness of organizations to look at hiring looking engaging resources that might not be as fully qualified as before so before I kind of get into where we are moving just kind of talking to traditional models. Perfect. We already are seeing in our traditional staffing world where companies are coming to US and saying I know I needed this level of experience and this level of expertise. I’m willing to go a little bit lower as long as they have these fundamental skills we can teach them that so you’re seeing a willingness of organizations to shift their approach and to hire into qualified talent. But maybe not ask qualified as they were hoping for. Maybe it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles and I think that’s kind of the first so to speak step or change that fundamentally has been emboldened us to make some of the changes we have. I think the second model is where you’re beginning to see the merging of kind of secondary very specific training programs, Boot camps if you will, that are helping to bridge that gap between where traditional higher education ends and where workforce and employers needs began. And how do you bridge that? And so everything from technical boot camps to driving schools to anything that you know might be in in any space in any skill set. And I’m going to keep focused on the technology side because that’s where we are. But you’re certainly seeing that Boot camps to do data visualization, do job who can’t do cybersecurity. But in these models the benefit is that they’re getting very specific training and challenges that those students are paying additional tuition to attend to at continuing to build student debt and often have to do that on a part time basis because they have to find a way to fund their own studies and so often at least one or two part time jobs. I think that’s a great lead into my next question. Which is what is talent path? And how is Your Company addressing the shortfall? The concept behind Talent Path was exactly all along that path. Which is we’re seeing in the marketplace that if we were to spend more money on job boards if we were to add more recruiting resources if we were to go and just spend money and centralize operations creating maybe sourcing and screening functions were still tapping into the same pool of talent and we’re still fighting for the same resources and so we had the choice to say we could either be part of the problem.
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Part of the solution. Talent Path is designed to be part of the solution so what it does is we looked at all of the new emerging models. We look at the fact that employers were beginning to recognize would hire less experienced resources so long as they had the fundamental technical skills. We look at the fact that these boot camps were adding value they were closing that gap but that they had deficiencies in amongst themselves. And so we said we’re going to create a model that addresses all of those needs but does that in a more constructive way. For staffing companies it’s a little bit different because in Talent Path we literally partner with universities we find and recruit and hire their top qualified graduates. That does not have to be in a technical skill set. It could be in other STEM degrees but they have to have both the fundamental training from a business and from an understanding of business and how organizations work to have those fundamental skills. And you know frankly. We look at their cognitive abilities. How well can they learn? How well are they going to be able to learn new technologies so we hire to those profiles. We literally pay them full time forty hours a week as a traditional fully benefit employees. We take out any need for them to have secondary or third employment while they go through training and they are in fact trained by organization in an immense three months technical focus and it is in various technology stacks and those stacks that are most man for our clients once they complete that technical training after three months they are put out on long term assignments with our clients with the opportunity to go full time at a certain period of time. So this is a new model over a staffing company takes the risk makes the investment upfront does not charge clients for that training, does that under a traditional staffing model where they slightly longer engagement expectation before conversion to allow them to recover that investment. But if that model is done it is much more cost effective for the clients. It creates the resources that don’t exist in the marketplace and affirm like us is able to do that financially and still meet our operating numbers while I would suspect that both the educational arm as well as the client base appreciate approach like this because it gives them an opportunity to first of all on the education side to ensure their graduates are all getting jobs in fields that are productive but it’s also giving employers an opportunity to be able to find resources that they might need to be a little patient with but not a lot but yet also getting that financial benefit of bringing in a more junior level position. Is that about accurate? I would say that’s exactly the case. Excellent so with all that said, how is your approach different? Yeah so I’m glad you asked that question. I think for us what we’re trying to do is fairly unique. We are trying to continue to operate as a traditional staffing firm that brings to our clients those types of experienced roles that they often need even in a model where you’re creating new talent with new expertise But lacking experience you still need experienced leadership experienced management to guide those individuals. The ability for a firm should come to us and say I want to put a team together. I still have needs in the leadership level. Were in this level of experience but also want to be able to tap into a new leadership workforce a newly trained workforce is the fact that we’re bringing all that together that makes it somewhat unique there are firms out there doing this talent path model and what we kind of call the higher trained deploy approach who have gone one hundred percent focused on that model because it is very difficult to do though. There are plenty of staffing firms that have tried to do this Talent Path is offering and realized that the investment costs the up front cost quite considerable and they. They created those efforts and so the fact that we’re balancing both of those and growing both pieces of businesses and important element that distinguishes us. And with our background in marketing, I’m just curious, what directions in marketing are you going with trying to attract the talent trying to attract the educational institutions and the employers? So let’s take those kind of two or three buckets and I’ll take those each separately first of all to attract the talent, we’ve got to make sure that our offering truly does benefit those individuals both financially as they go through our program and then long term in terms of launching their career. So you know to do that yeah you spend a lot of time on marketing.
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you’re putting out a website that creates visibility. You’re tapping into various press and other media that advertise to where they communicate to, you can take your story to the type of audience that you’re targeting which leads to the second that fundamentally we want to if we want to find new various resources that are starting their career best place to start is with the university and that can be students that are still working through their degrees and it can be graduates that have left the university in the past year or two three four or more surprisingly and have looked back and said I really wish I had taken my career in this direction and I want to do that. So partnerships with universities becomes very important. We do assign recruiters that pair very closely with universities. They literally established a presence on campus well beyond the traditional career fairs they’re there weekly. They’re meeting with placement specialist both in the career services as part of the university but also very specifically within each of the colleges that exist on those university campuses and so that involvement that hand the hand working relationship building and establishing the brand in creating a better understanding of what we do. And that’s waiting to things like weekend or weekday sessions information sessions that we may host students tapping into various clubs, various organizations on campus and then tapping into their alumni network and using advertising to create awareness of it. On the client side, I mean it’s very simple equation. You’ve got to have the resources that are out there working with clients. Those resources are very different. They have to be able to communicate with management senior management because this is not a transactional sale. This is much more of a strategic sale. And so you’ve got to be able to talk to business and technical talk along with the concept of workforce solutions and so that is really where we’re focusing our efforts to create the demand. And I think from public relations to direct marketing to digital marketing, you’re kind of covering the gamut on on trying to reach audiences. Isn’t that about right? So yeah I mean if you, and I should be respectful of the role that you play in this, because helped us shape. You literally helped us to launch the Talent Path offering and so you did that and we continue to do that through a number of different ways and obviously creating your digital footprint your digital brand you know through websites and through the messaging to communicate on the website, that’s important. Clearly you’ve got to have an entire social media campaign where you’re creating awareness of that. They’re sharing that throughout your organization and the organization is sharing that. You’re providing substance content that is meaningful. There’s beneficial to the constituents that you’re marketing to whether that’s students whether there’s clients and so there’s an entire effort behind that. There is a true benefit from a brand perspective that comes with establishing credibility through the media and so A PR campaign where you have some of the notable media some of the notable organizations, associations, trade mags if you will, that are talking about your product becomes an important piece of the puzzle so clearly we are doing all of those things. Excellent. Well Kip, thanks again for sharing your time and insights. We really appreciate it. Absolutely, it’s been my pleasure. I’m sure everyone in podcast land will think about the ways they can be addressing the talent shortage and the overall impact to their businesses. I’m Larry Hemley, President of S.J.Hemley Marketing with Kip Wright, CEO of Genuent and Talent Path, and this has been StaffingREEL.