THE BLOG
06/14/2012 05:57 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2012

Launch Pad: How to Create Thousands of Jobs in a Few Months

Imagine thousands of small businesses who want to grow, each hiring a handful of people in the next few months. What would that do for our economy?

We've all heard of companies not being able to find the right person to fill a job vacancy. Same here -- there are good people out there looking for a good job fit, but they don't have any experience in my field of information technology. It's the old conundrum: You have to have experience to get experience.

Conundrum -- meet your solution! At HYDER Industries, my technology acquisition company in Two Rivers, Wis., we call it Launch Pad: a career development program targeting attitude and aptitude rather than experience in the IT field. The concept is actually pretty simple. Knowledge of the IT industry, or any other business, can be taught through a process of 1) on the job training, 2) coaching, and 3) complete immersion into the business.

During the training and coaching portion of Launch Pad, associates are paid competitive, entry-level wages. Base pay increases as the associate's responsibility grows. Both the entry-level and subsequent salaries are competitive and on a faster track than the industries they come from. In fact, I just found out that our base pay upon completion of Launch Pad is just below the wage a person could earn after a four-year apprenticeship as a journeyman machinist in our area, and is more than someone makes after ten years on a factory assembly line around here.

We've hired six associates to Launch Pad in the last six months. One of those came to us after a short career working on the factory floor. Laura decided she wanted a different future, so she earned an associate's degree in business and is now pursuing BS degrees in human resources and business at night, while working for HYDER's Rural America OnShore Outsourcing during the day. She thought she would probably stay in the manufacturing environment, but eventually move into the front office.

Instead, she was hired under Launch Pad and assigned to do entry-level work in human resources, where her strengths became evident. Laura was originally hired because of her positive attitude and overwhelming desire to succeed as a team player. She is now a Director of Human Resources less than a year after starting in Launch Pad.

Local city manager, Greg Buckley, says Launch Pad addresses an issue common to smaller cities like Two Rivers: "Companies have positions they can't fill and there are good people who can't find work. We hear so much about the skills mismatch in today's economy, and here's a company taking action to do something about it. This is good, old fashioned entrepreneurship that drives small cities. It is not only our history, it is our future."

We get more than 100 resumes a week and some of the positions are straight, skill-based jobs. But IT, like every industry, has roles that don't necessarily involve technical skills in that business. Who do you think will bring great marketing results for your widget company, an award-winning widget designer with a master's degree in engineering, or someone with a marketing degree or actual marketing experience in another field?

Other areas like customer service, sales, communications, or human resources need associates with great attitudes that fit your culture. So, go ahead and interview people fresh out of school or from other industries who have no professional industry experience, and give them a chance to work in your company. When selecting associates, we start with the assumption that the person has the appropriate skills or they wouldn't be applying, so we look first at attitude and aptitude.

I do want to clarify this though: Launch Pad was built with the understanding that there are no guarantees that the people will stay with the company. The goal is to provide a stronger workforce and hire many more people. This is how growth happens. They may stay with us and help us grow, or they take what they learn somewhere else and help another company grow. They may even start their own companies and hire other people -- and, I would hope they will have their own Launch Pad program.

Imagine if just a few hundred companies hired a handful of people in this way this year: Thousands of jobs created!