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Case Studies

Case 1: Health Careers Collaboration: Decreasing Turnover, Increasing Skill

Challenge: High turnover in entry level positions with widespread poaching between local companies for talented employees.

Action: Developed an employer-led consortium that formalized career pathways for entry-level workers and built a shared talent pool. The consortium also requires employers to prepay tuition for participants earning a certificate or associates.

Outcome: 85% program retention; return on investment through increased employee retention, performance scores, and decreased absenteeism; 90% of participants continued on to complete a bachelor’s degree; larger and more diverse applicant pool.

After struggling with employee retention and relentless poaching between health care providers in the Cincinnati area, health care employers met with the local community college to resolve the talent pool shortage causing the constant turnover and competition. The result is an employer-institution consortium building career pathways with multiple entrance and exit points for employees. By defining the career paths and supporting the educational advancements of employees, the companies encouraged career growth and built a strong applicant pool to fill the entry level vacancies as the employees moved up. The model required employers to cover developmental costs, after which the employees were grouped into cohort within their degree program. From there, tuition was prepaid by the companies and employees were given support by their peers and company to finish their degrees. Additionally, employers offered the assistance of a career guidance coach to assist the program participants.

Case 2: Tuition Assistance to Develop Talent: Verizon Wireless

Challenge: High turnover in entry-level positions

Action: 100% prepaid tuition assistance program with career navigation supports and partnerships with multiple colleges and universities.

Outcome: 20% increase in career mobility; high participation (20% of total workforce); decreased turnover by 50%; increased loyalty (96% of participants intend to stay with their employer for at least two years after completion)

Verizon was suffering from turnover in entry-level positions which make up about 80% of their workforce. To combat this turnover problem, Verizon developed a culture of continuous learning for their employees from the start of their time with the company. Orientation discusses career pathways within Verizon and necessary skills to get you there. They also offer assessments to match interest and skills with opportunities within the company. Supervisors are trained on supporting the educational advancement of their employees and engage in a recognition program to acknowledge the success of these employees. To more fully support the educational needs of these pathways, Verizon offers prepaid tuition for both full and part-time employees and offers assistance with other course related costs through their LearningLINK program. Through rigorous partnerships, Verizon was able to offer courses on-site and facilitate prior learning assessment for employees. The results of this program illustrated that the added expenses were offset by the increase in productivity and Verizon now uses the program as a recruiting tool. Participation has also been very high among employees with nearly 20% of the workforce joining in 2009.

Case 3: Western Association of Food Chains: Building Leaders though Career Pathways

Challenge: Skills gap between entry-level workers and management that made managers hard to develop, hire, and retain.

Action: Partnership with community colleges to provide competency-based certification aligned with needed career pathways.

Outcome: 44% degree completion

Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) is comprised of national grocery store chains and suffers from only 14-20% of their employees attaining a postsecondary credential. This is becoming an increasing problem with the technological advances of the workplace. The lack of education also makes promoting experienced managers a problem as well. To combat this problem, WAFC created the Retail Management Certificate (RMC) Program with community college partners. The program was developed with input from various stakeholders including the US Department of Labor and is competency-based and credentialing. The competencies defined by the needs of this labor market were then mapped to existing programs at the partner community college essentially building a new academic program based on current coursework. Today, the program is available online and is still competency based. The program is available to full and part-time employees and the end credential gives semester hour credit to employees wishing to transfer to an associate’s or bachelor’s program. WAFC also engages in an employee recognition program for those involved in the RMC program. The program increased employee morale, has high participation, and is noted for gaining strong support from stakeholders.

Case 4: UPS: Using Education Partnerships to Avoid Relocation

Challenge: “Need to stabilize its part-time workforce and reduce turnover to avoid relocation”

Action: Flexible course scheduling through postsecondary partnerships and tuition-free education with career navigation support.

Outcome: Operations stabilized to avoid relocation and made expansion possible; decreased turnover rate (70% to less than 20%); strengthened talent pipeline; increased regional talent pool.

As a worldwide shipping corporation, UPS employs many part-time night shift employees who make the operation possible. This employee group is known for high turnover rates (about 70%) and the Louisville, KY branch needed to stabilize this group in order to meet operational demands and prevent an expansion from relocating to another plant. To support part-time, night shift employees, UPS built a partnership with the local community and technical college and the metro government to provide tuition-free postsecondary education. The result is the Metropolitan College (MC) which is funded 50% by UPS and 50% by the public partners. The college makes representatives available at the UPS plant for assistance in retention and guidance. Additionally, UPS covers the costs of textbooks and provides an academic bonus at the completion of a semester. Participation in the Metropolitan College contributed to the talent pool in the region and decreased turnover from 70% to 20% for UPS operations. The program is now used for recruitment and is being expanded through UPS corporate.