World Refugee Day Shines Light on Untapped Pool of Talented Workers

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From Fortune 500 companies to local small businesses, a similar theme rings true. In this strong economy where unemployment is low and growth is high, companies are competing for top talent. In Indianapolis - according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics - unemployment is just 2.8 percent, and investment and job growth are on the rise.

This is great news for Indianapolis-area residents looking for work or opportunities to advance their careers, but for businesses and employers, this landscape poses some challenges. Even the strongest companies are at risk of losing the talent they’ve invested in hiring and training, and in a competitive economy, many are finding themselves with open positions they just can’t fill.

As the leader of a national company headquartered right here in Indianapolis, I believe the solution to this problem is expanding who we are willing to hire; perhaps not the candidate who meets all qualifications on paper, but rather the one who is eager to learn the necessary skills. The minimal expense of training offers a higher return than the cost of continuously recruiting conventionally qualified candidates. This month’s World Refugee Day shines a light on a pool of talent that often doesn’t get past the application screening stage.

Since 1975, Indianapolis has become home to approximately 20,000 refugees from around the world. This Thursday, June 20, Catholic Charities, in partnership with Morales Group and other organizations, will host a celebration to recognize and raise awareness of the refugee community here. Many of the people who make up Indy’s vibrant refugee community are skilled individuals with the aptitude and attitude to be great employees. With a bit of training, they can be excellent team members who fill our open positions and loyal employees who are eager to learn new skills and information.

In my role as president and chief operating office of a global talent-sourcing agency, the Morales Group, I see firsthand how many overlooked individuals are willing to do whatever it takes to be given a chance in a new role. Individuals with disabilities, veterans and refugees often don’t meet the hiring criteria when it comes to experience or credentials. But, if given a chance to learn the skills needed to do a job, they are grateful, dependable and loyal team members. We partner with companies to help these individuals develop the skills they need, and then provide them with access to additional tools and training so they can achieve future growth within the company. When an employee can see a path from A Job (their first job) to B Job (a Better job) to C Job (a Career), he or she is more likely to be engaged and committed to the company or organization and stick around for the long term.

In this period of economic growth and prosperity, companies and leaders who think differently about hiring will be the true winners. Not only will they win when it comes to filling their open positions with talented, loyal individuals, but they’ll develop a deep talent pool within their organizations when they invest in developing their existing employees’ skillsets. This is much less expensive than continuously spending money to recruit and rehire. As we celebrate World Refugee Day this week, I urge leaders to think differently about their talent. Your company’s bottom line will thank you.

Seth Morales is president and chief operating officer of Morales Group, Inc.

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