As any technical recruiter can tell you, the road to hiring talent is a challenging one. Even in this era of pandemic, recession, and civil unrest, challenges remain. SaaS employers - particularly ones who focus on collaboration and/ or remote work - continue to see demand and need for their services. "The fact that recruitment is still continuing with relative strength in IT is perhaps unsurprising due to the on-going need across most sectors to conduct operations remotely," said Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, an international trade body representing the professional recruitment sector.
Companies such as Slack are among those who continue to hire, with 165 jobs currently listed in Indeed. To address their needs, the company worked with The Last Mile, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and FREEAMERICA, to co-create Next Chapter, a yearlong apprenticeship program to train and mentor formerly incarcerated individuals. The program launched as a pilot in 2018.
While talent is equally distributed in America, opportunity is not. About 2.5 million people are currently imprisoned in the U.S. Once released, the unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated individuals is nearly five times higher than that of the general population.
The latest evolution is an expansion of the partnership to include Zoom and Dropbox, two companies who are also hiring rapidly to meet demand for their collaboration solutions. (Zoom currently has 229 roles listed in Indeed). As their part of the program, the companies will offer apprenticeship programs to recently released prisoners, with the goal to convert them to full-time hires.
Charles Anderson, a former apprentice who is now a full-time Slack engineer, observes that program participants bring more than coding skills to the table. “We’re hardworking, we’re passionate about change, and we’re going to try and give back in so many different ways,” he says.
Besides excelling as engineers, the former Next Chapter apprentices have found ways to give back to their communities. Shortly after finishing the program, Anderson began tutoring young adults from local youth detention centers.
“I let them know about my experience and that no matter what, if you truly want to change, that it’s possible, and there are people out there who care about you and support you,” he says. “My hope is to get a group of kids prepared, get them into a coding boot camp, and then, with the connections that I’ve built, get them a job in engineering.”
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