This post is part of our community blogging program, which chronicles the thoughts of students, parents, and community leaders on the intersection between education, entrepreneurship, and public service. Here, Venture Center Director of Digital Strategy and Membership Steve Rice writes about his experience working with Noble Impact and young talent in Central Arkansas.
The Talent Drain
Nearly every community faces the obstacle of attracting and retaining talent at one point or another, and companies invest millions of dollars in attraction and relocation of talent. Retaining the best talent is an eat-or-be-eaten world. But what if the way we’ve always done it isn’t the best way? If there were a better way, what would it look like?
Noble Impact has stepped out to rethink education and what that would look like, and I see this as a great opportunity for the business community to begin to reimagine talent attraction and retention. What if we as the education and business communities worked more closely together to nurture and cultivate the raw talent that already exists in our city?
In the past, we as the business community have often ignored the student community until they come to our doors, degree in hand. At that point, we tell them, “get some experience” and dump them into a pile with other job seekers.
What if there is a better way? What would it look like?
A Better Way
What would happen if we worked together to help students begin to identify and nurture their real-world interests, strengths and aptitudes? And what if we began to do this as early as primary school?
What if, in addition to helping them to identify their interests, we taught students how to tell their story? Imagine that we showed them how to position their skills and the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom within the context of the modern workplace and market. How would their chances of success change if we taught them how to work on teams, set goals, prioritize and achieve objectives? How would it set them ahead of their peers if we helped them build a platform to display those skills and achievements before they left high school?
Imagine that our students had already learned both soft and hard skills to give them experience and prepare them for the job market even before they arrived as freshmen at the doors of our halls of higher learning.
This is the path Noble Impact has begun to identify with the apprenticeship program and their new scholar portfolio development product. This program seeks to create relevant, purpose-driven learning opportunities for students in the Noble program, and provides the scholar with a digital tool for presenting their successes in a narrative that employers are looking for. The scholar enters the workforce fully equipped to achieve success. This is the early stage of talent acquisition and retention.
A digital portfolio created by Noble Impact 301 scholar Bradley Poindexter.
Partnering with Noble is a perfect blending of the mission of the Venture Center to create a pipeline of viable, scalable businesses that drive real, economic impact in our city and community. In order for businesses to grow and succeed, they need a local pool of strong, knowledge-based talent. Our goal is to leverage our community partners like Noble Impact to create an environment in which the best, brightest and most talented minds of our state are educated, grow, and then build their professional lives right here in Central Arkansas.
Through this process, we have learned a lot, but there are three things that we have learned that stand out as key components that will incentivize young talent to stay closer to home as they move into and build their careers. These are insights that any community can use to improve the success of talent retention from the very earliest stages of a student’s academic career.
How to Keep Local Talent
1. Connect Students to the Community
At the Venture Center, as we observe the talent and potential of the young professionals in the Noble Impact apprenticeship program, we are able to leverage our connections in the community to connect students to professionals in our community.
For example, just last week, we had the pleasure of introducing Noble Impact 301 scholar and young fashion designer Kennedy Smith to local couture designer, Linda Rowe-Thomas of fashion house Romás. These types of “intentional collisions” help to connect young professionals to business experts and influencers in their community.
2. Give Them a Reason to Stay
Once students are connected to their community, it is easier to provide reasons for them to stay in and build their career in the community where they have begun to make connections. Identifying what a student wants or what she is looking for in the future allows educators and community partners to work together to help provide the incentives that will help to retain the student in the state.
3. Give Them Experience
Apprenticeship programs like Noble Impact’s embody all three of these components to talent retention. A real-world, project-based and results-focused apprenticeship program connects students to their community, partners with community members to give the student reasons to stay and build their career in the city and it provides them an opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience prior to entering the workplace. Noble Impact apprentices are contributing and leading to projects at local businesses that include Few, Apptegy, Strengthen, the Museum of Discovery, John David Pittman Photography, Freiderica Pharmacy And Compounding, CHI St. Vincent Infirmary, River Market Boot Camp, and yes, the Venture Center. This is real-world, hands-on learning.
Asking ‘what if?’ opens us up to a wide world of potential. That is what Noble Impact has begun to do as it reimagines education through its apprenticeship program. Community partners like the Venture Center and established businesses broaden and strengthen the pool of local talent when they support and enhance the work that Noble has begun. There is a part for each of us to play in the success of our community.
You can create the same impact in your own community. We hope you’ll join us on this exciting adventure!