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Fostering Future Talent With Apprenticeships

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Do you know your employer brand? Does it accurately portray your company in the career marketplace? Is it maximizing your ability to recruit talented individuals? If not, how do you bridge that gap?

These are some of the things we asked ourselves during a recent strategic planning session. What we realized right away is that many people in the community didn’t truly know and understand The YGS Group and everything we do. Sure, we had a longstanding reputation for print operations, but over the years we’ve expanded to include much more in terms of marketing services and publishing solutions. However, when it came to bringing new talent to our workplace, we didn’t feel as if we were necessarily seen as the integrated communications firm that we are today.

Even more, we wanted to ensure that we developed multiple channels for recruiting talented professionals. Essentially, we were looking to create a widespread network for continuous recruitment.

“We faced many challenges in our previous approach to recruitment that left us with a significant talent gap,” said Yvonne DeSalle, vice president of associate engagement and talent development at YGS. “We now focus on forecasting our needs for talent, increasing our visibility in the local markets, and continuing to foster awareness through targeted outreach efforts and program offerings, such as apprenticeship initiatives.”

As part of this push, DeSalle has been leading YGS’ community outreach, particularly with regional colleges. Currently, YGS has relationships with Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport and Millersville University in Millersville. These academic partnerships go beyond simply attending career days, to include connecting with lead professors on campus, and contributing to programs of study.

Where do apprenticeships come into play? The hope is to eventually integrate our company into the colleges’ curriculums such that YGS can provide the applied field experience as a complement to classroom instruction. Naturally, the three colleges mentioned above are just a starting point for this growing initiative.

“Apprenticeships are not new,” DeSalle said. “They are a tried and tested approach to attracting new associates, as well as a supportive structure for developing existing associates.”

But let’s rewind. Right now, YGS has a pilot apprenticeship program for the areas of press, bindery and mail list processing. There are four employees (We’ll introduce them to you in later posts.) who have three- to four-year commitments for career paths in those areas, although these apprenticeships are not yet affiliated with college programs—that’s in the works for future apprenticeships.

Meanwhile, we are working with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor (DOL) to approve our pilot program. DOL approval would allow YGS to apply for grant dollars to offset program-related costs. For the candidates, it would enable them to receive DOL journeyman certifications. We are also in the process of registering our apprenticeships with the Pennsylvania Apprenticeship and Training Council.

It’s a win-win scenario: We are able to attract and personally train talent, and the skills they learn will be a match to the company’s future needs. Apprentices earn money while they work toward a viable career path at a company that values its employees and works to create a happy and rewarding culture.

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