E374 Recruiting Community: Michelle Rhee, The Power of Apprenticeship

Host Chris Hoyt connects with Michelle Rhee, Co-founder of BuildWithin to talk about the often-unrealized power behind apprenticeship programs.

E374 Recruiting Community: Michelle Rhee, The Power of Apprenticeship

Host Chris Hoyt connects with Michelle Rhee, Co-founder of BuildWithin to talk about the often-unrealized power behind apprenticeship programs.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 
So it could we could, it could be a fun fact that we’re starting with Michelle, you you you were just saying the greenroom as we sort of started to turn this on. You worked for the mayor.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 0:10
Yes. I used to work for the mayor of Washington DC when I was the chancellor there. He had mayoral control of the schools. So Adrian Fenty was the mayor who hired me.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:21
Oh, that’s so interesting. Wow. Do you have any fun stories you want? Of course, we’re not live wink wink, nudge nudge, but you have a fun, fun stories we want to know.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 0:31
So, Adrian Fenty was

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:34
We are live by the way just I was winking and nadrich. Just FYI.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 0:40
So Adrian Fenty was one of these politicians who like, wasn’t wasn’t really meant to be a politician. Right. He when He won the election, it was like this huge surprise to the city because he was didn’t get endorsed endorsements in raising that sort of thing. And so one of the first things that he did when he came into office was he got rid of like the mayoral motorcade, right, and the the big SUVs with the blacked out windows and whatnot. And he moved to just driving himself around in a little smart car. Because he’s like, I don’t want to waste taxpayer dollars on this stuff. I don’t need that. And so you know, every press conference that we’d be happy to sort of, like, zip in and his little, like the new smart cars, or like smaller than golf carts, you know, and it was always hillarious.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:28
You can just drive right up to the podium.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 1:30
Yeah, pretty much.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:31
I would not make a good mayoral candidate because I would get one of those stretch Humvees to keep you safe. it would have to keep you safe. With that, Gerry, what would you do? Would you would you increase your motorcade decrease it just use?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 1:48
Oh no, I would Yeah, I’d be on a scooter or some I mean, you know, it just wouldn’t it i That’s why I like that, Mayor. That’s exactly what I would have to do. Because you can’t take yourself very seriously. If if you’re trying to be involved in politics. I mean, you just can’t. Almost any of those. I’ve been on, you know, boards in my college, for example, it’s the same kind of thing. Like, why am I here? This is silly. You know, these are silly decisions we’re making up here, somebody gets some serious people.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 2:20
Well the mayor was all about efficiency and effectiveness. And so for him, you know, getting rid of the pomp and circumstance and just driving around in a smart car was like on brand for him.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:33
That’s pretty funny. I think that’s fabulous. All right. Well, we don’t have smart cars or stretch limos or a scooter. Although Gerry I do think if you were gonna take I imagine you’d have to get one of those things attached to your all your hats, so they wouldn’t fight off the little zip. All right. Well, we do actually have some stuff to talk about today. I’m pretty excited about are you ready to get going. Alright, here we go.

CXR Announcer 2:56
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Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:26
All right, good morning. Good afternoon. Hello. And how are you? I am Chris Hoyt. I’m your host. For the next 20 minutes of this chat. We’re going to talk about, well, we’re going to talk about recruiting stuff. This is the recruiting community podcast, we’re excited to do this, we try to do them weekly. It’s typically a live stream, you can find it on the Facebook, or the Twitter or the YouTube or the LinkedIn, I think we might be on a couple of other platforms. But if you happen to be on a platform that’s got a chat window in it, I’m going to encourage you to go ahead and use that you can use that to chime in. You can ask questions, you can just say hello, we’ll put you up on the screen make you famous or infamous, depending on on your chat, comment. But we’ll get that added in there. And you can be part of that great way to network to throw your LinkedIn profile in there. If you want to make sure you say hello to everybody. I am joined today he is dialed in from his new remote garage, Mr. Crispin my soulmate, how are you? You might be muted. Maybe this is just me. Am I the only one that can’t hear Gerry?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 4:25
Oh, you can hear me there.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:26
There he is. Now I can hear you.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 4:28
Yeah, I was gonna say there’s a note saying I see Gerry on a trike. And there is a story. We’re not going to tell it now. That would support that, that that need on a trike on a trike on the trike. And we can’t fall over on a trike. No,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:46
No, you didn’t even have a trike at the burn.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 4:50
No and that was the problem.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:55
There’s vision there’s vision there. All right. Are we ready? We got a fun topic today and we You have not addressed this today. I think it’s it is an interesting piece about apprenticeships. And with us we have Michelle actually, I’m gonna bring her in right there from the green room. Michelle, welcome to the show.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 5:10
Thank you.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:11
So Michelle, you’re you’re obviously you’re with BuildWithin. But I want to, I want to give you just a chance to kind of introduce yourself, do a little bit of escalator pitch and tell us who you are. And what do you do with or at BuildWithin?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 5:24
Sure. So Michelle Rhee, I spent most of my career actually in K to 12 education, but was the Chancellor of the Washington DC public school district for about three and a half years before that ran organization called the New Teacher Project. When my left education, actually my co founder, Humana Hartsock, and I used to be educators together, she went off and started a tech company. When she was running that company, she would call me all the time and say, you know, what, Michelle, what we were doing in public education was so the right thing, because now I’m on the other side of the equation, I’m an employer, and I can’t find the skilled workforce that I need to run this company effectively. And so after looking into the situation, and trying to figure out like, what the issue was, she realized that a lot of her hiring managers and people in our HR department, were really focused on just looking at people who had four year degrees in computer science and three to five years of experience, to even be considered for a job and a minister. Look. First of all, there are not enough people who have those qualifications in the world, for all the positions that are open. But furthermore, we have a lot of positions in this company where if you have a great work ethic, and transferable skills, we can turn you into a fantastic customer success manager or QA developer. And so to address that, they started a tech apprenticeship program, ran it incredibly successfully. So when they had an exit from that company, she said, I have my idea for my next company. She said, I want to build a software platform that makes it easier for employers to start and manage apprenticeship programs. And so that was the start of BuildWithin us what we do.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:18
It’s super interesting to me, but can you can you? I think we can get into here a little bit. But can you kind of briefly explain what an apprenticeship is for any of our listeners, recruiting folks who might not actually be familiar with that term? Because I know we talked about intern internships a lot. We talked about, you know, these different shadow programs, all these things, but we don’t we don’t seem to talk a lot about apprenticeships. So can you kind of kind of explain that?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 7:43
Sure. When Humana first brought up the notion of apprenticeships, to me, the only thing that I could think of was blacksmiths, and glassblowers. And the base of your right were the master artists in his work at, you know, at work and the apprentices looking over their shoulder. But the apprenticeship model is actually one in which the person comes in. They are paid a full salary and for full benefits, but the idea is that they are learning on the job learning a new career on the job. And the reason why it’s such a compelling model is because we have 11 million jobs in this country every year that go unfilled, and yet we have 10 and a half million on an unemployed people, many of them will move into those jobs, but oftentimes, they feel like they don’t have the knowledge or the resources to do that, right. So when people look at a job and technology, and they’ve never, they’ve never done that before, they think, Oh, I gotta go back to, you know, get a four year degree or a two year master’s, or at the very least, I got to attend a three, four month boot camp, right. And the reality is that most jobs can’t have a gap in income I have tomorrow, I can’t afford to go back to school for any period of time. And the apprenticeship model allows people to move into new sectors, industries or careers, and do that sort of seamlessly without without an income gap. But where there is a very clear and structured way to move into a new job.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:19
So, so it’s interesting to me, I mean, can you I guess, I’m wondering what challenges an apprentice right would expect to face and maybe how best to prepare for that, because you’re right, when when you said that originally, I think of an apprenticeship, I think a plumber, I think you know, very, very skilled very labor like a labor intensive type of role, right, very manual labor type of role, but, but it had not occurred to me that that these are, I guess, prevalent within corporate right in these white collar jobs. So So what kind of challenges would an apprentice expect to face and how could they kind of prepare for those? Yeah.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 9:58
So in In this country, apprenticeships have largely been contained to trains and construction and construction. So you’re absolutely right. Most people think of the electricians, the plumbers. And those industries have utilized the apprenticeship model quite well. What is interesting is that apprenticeships have expanded beyond those industries in America in the way that they have in European countries. So for example, in Switzerland, 75% of the adult workforce actually comes through some kind of apprenticeship program. And it’s interesting because, you know, there’s widespread support for apprenticeships, Republicans love them, Democrats love them, unions, corporations, everybody likes apprenticeships. So the question is like, why haven’t they expanded than beyond the trades in construction. And what we’ve found is it kind of comes down to two things. One is it is very difficult to get an apprenticeship program up and running. So most employers like you have to come up with the standards and the curricula and the work processes and all sometimes it can be very time consuming to do that. And most companies don’t have the where with all the resources to put towards that. And the second reason is that oftentimes you have pushback from line managers. So these are the people who are going to have to oversee the apprentice, right? They’re like, Ah, I’m busy. And you’re going to saddle me with somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing. And I got to teach them all that stuff. That sounds like more work for me. So no, thank you. Right. So those are the sort of major kind of blockers on the employer side. I think from the apprentice side. Oftentimes, it can just be a daunting idea that I’ve never worked in advanced manufacturing or technology before, and I’m going to come in and on day one be expected to do work like that can be incredibly intimidating for our apprentices for sure.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 11:56
Sure. So it does sound like so that is the argument made, typically, by hiring managers getting a new internship program, right. It’s just it’s new labor, it’s new management that I’ve that I’ve gotten done, or that I’ve got to get done, and then I’ve got to manage and then you’re going to take them away. Right. So I guess my question is, how, how do you get past that, like, how are companies or organizations sort of benefiting from from offering those those apprenticeship programs versus, you know, hiring, you know, doing another internship piece or something a little more traditional, or that they’re familiar with?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 12:30
Yeah. So a lot of people don’t understand what the difference between an internship and apprenticeship are, right. And so just to be clear about that, internships are typically for a set period of time, whether it’s a summer or a semester, at most is going to be a year, right. But the person is really sort of in observation mode, right? They’re, they’re, they’re, they’re watching, they’re learning, right, it’s usually more about the experience that they are having the difference. And then to your point, Chris, like they’re in there for three months, and then they’re out. The apprenticeship is a basically a way that that companies can bring new talent into their workforce, and people who might not have all of the sort of knowledge and skills that they need, but they feel like this person has a lot of potential and in a structured way to move them into that role. But the idea is that they’re going to spend a year in this apprenticeship learning on the job. But the goal is to have them employed in that position with that employer in the long run. And one of the great things about apprenticeships. And one of the reasons, most compelling reasons for employers to utilize apprenticeship programs is that the best apprenticeship programs in this country have a five year retention rate of 95%. So practices, yeah, they stay for the long haul. They typically feel like okay, this employer believed in me when nobody else would be invested in my professional development, and so they’re incredibly loyal. And is that across industries? Yes, that is across industries and sectors. Yeah.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 14:12
What occurs to me, Chris, and Michelle is in recruiting. There is what looks like but I’m sure it’s not an apprenticeship program. And we’re talking about kids who are coming out of college and take on the job of becoming a recruiter and a staffing agency. They are they are taught and often by individuals over a period of time until they become poor performers, if you will. And some obviously stay but the turnover rate would be way high, and the abuse from a payment point of view since it’s almost always heavily commissionable rather than a living wage of any kind is a problem And my point of that is, there are so many people who could be great recruiters in a corporation. Who could, who could if there were an apprentice program, a formal one that did the right thing with them. They could become great recruiters, there’s just an opportunity there because we don’t have education related rationally, to recruiting.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 15:25
Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, to your point, Jeremy, a lot of roles just throw a huge number of people into the role. And it’s sort of sink or swim like you’re describing. But if you take the idea that you could take those exact same people, and put them through an apprenticeship program, where the idea is that over this 12 month period, there is very structured learning that they’re receiving right through what we call related technical instruction. And then you’re applying what you learned on the job. And you’re being given constant feedback on you know, what your strengths and, and challenges are, right? When you’re doing that in a structured environment. And the apprentice and the manager are both very clear on what the expectations are, then your likelihood of success is much greater of that person, and then the likelihood that they’re going to be able to stay with the employer for the long term increases as well. So

Gerry Crispin, CXR 16:22
what what would you do in the situation that somebody wanted to build an apprenticeship program, let’s say, for recruiting in their company, and they were willing to put resources against it. But somewhere in this, they’ve got to figure out what it is you need to learn, right? In order to accomplish that. And I would, I would argue that there is no one place where that information resides. So it wouldn’t be a lot of work to do that.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 16:51
It doesn’t have to be though. So one of the things that build within does as a company is we are an approved national program sponsor with the Department of Labor, we have 30 roles that are approved. And so basically, the curriculum, the standards of work processes for each of these roles is set out. So if an employer wants to start a registered apprenticeship program, instead of going through the year long battle that it usually takes, they just sign up with us and they can have one, within hours. The positive though, is that every company is a little different in terms of how they want to train their folks what software they’re using, etc. So you have the ability to modify and add things that are company specific to the training as well. So most people think, okay, 80%, of what a new salesperson needs, for example, is pretty standard. And there’s that other 20% that’s specific to the company, and our model less than half both.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 17:48
So your model would allow you to build that with the employer, they adding some of the uniqueness there, but you’re doing the work, or the heavy lifting, if you will, to look at generically What does somebody need?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 18:03
That’s exactly right. But

Chris Hoyt, CXR 18:05
But I feel like we’re, we’re talking about another piece of this too, because we are saying this is not an internship program. It’s different than that there’s more structure here. But Michelle, we’re and we’re talking about how it differs and benefits, maybe the company as a whole retention, etc. And how it how it benefits the individual right, as they’re coming in. But what we haven’t mentioned yet, and maybe you can help us with Can you discuss how the the hiring managers job changes? Because now we’ve kind of put them in a we’re kind of putting them in more of a much more formalized training role. Are we like, like a mentorship almost?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 18:40
Yeah. Well, when you think about it, that’s what great managers are doing with new hires, regardless, right? They you’ve got a new person, you got to figure out, what do they know? What are they? What are? Where are the holes? And how am I going to get them to be as productive as possible as soon as possible. And so we try to facilitate that, actually, through the platform, because you actually have here all the competencies that this person needs to be able to develop, here’s how I rate them. We actually, when we onboard managers to our platform, we actually tell them, Don’t start with the apprentice start with the work, right? Because that’s what’s top of mind to managers, like, what do I have to do over the next two to eight weeks with my team? What are the priorities? How am I going to accomplish that? So we tell them to start there? And then based on that, what are the types of tasks that an apprentice could take on? So if you’re a sales manager, and you’re like, hey, we’ve got a big pitch. In two weeks, I want the apprentice to take, you know, a stab at the deck, then they can look on the platform, pull down the lessons on what are the components of a compelling sales pitch and how do you create a PowerPoint presentation you assign those to the to the apprentice, you’ll get a notification when it’s complete. And then you know, you assigned the task then when you get another notification when that’s complete and To be able to assess what they’re what they’re doing. So it mirrors what would happen anyways, in a good managerial relationship. It just provides more structure around it and more transparency for all of the parties involved.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 20:17
I love that well, it’s easy to see that your organization is making apprenticeships easier to implement more accessible. But let me ask you a question before we wrap up. I mean, do you do you see, do you see any evolution in this space? That’s maybe surprising. I mean, particularly with With advancements and technology or how the work landscape I mean, it’s it’s a roller coaster ride now, right now for we’re hiring. We’re not hiring, we’re freezing. We’re speeding, we’re slowing. We’re like it’s making people nuts. I mean, are you seeing some evolution in that spot that hits the entire concept of apprenticeships head on?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 20:52
i Yes, I think that apprentice ships are a much more flexible way for employers to ensure that they can have the skilled workforce that they need, because technologies are changing all the time, you know, you’ve got some jobs that are going to be phased out over the time over time, because there’s new technology that’s coming in, how are you going to sort of make sure that people can get rescaled and upskill. And an apprenticeship model, it’s incredibly flexible. It’s, you know, you can do it over a short period of time, it doesn’t require everyone going back to school for a new degree. So I think that this model with its flexibility is, is much more aligned with kind of the rapidly changing and evolving landscape and workforce.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 21:39
There’s some flex there, let me we got a question that came in. Michelle, for some reason, the platform’s not telling me who it is, but I’ll put it up on the screen. So somebody on LinkedIn might be your tricycle fan, Jerry, they’re asking, what’s the best way to maybe identify candidates for an apprenticeship? So taking into account if they may have a lower skill set? Or perhaps it’s a longer commitment?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 22:01
Yeah. So what we do is we actually have a battery of assessments that we put apprentices through before they are sort of matched with a job. And we’re looking at things like their interests and passions, kind of, you know, their logical reasoning and that sort of thing. Because what we found through this battery of assessments is that without knowing like, the actual hard skills of the person, there are softer skills, and there are more sort of innate things in a person that make them increase the likelihood that they’re going to be successful in certain kinds of roles. And so we try to make good matches based on that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 22:41
Very interesting. Well, we’re at we’re at, we’re at time, but I got to ask him to show we ask all of our guests, at least the ones that we’d like on the show, if they were going to write a book about this topic. And their viewpoint, what would the title of that book be? So Michelle, what would the title of your book be?

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 23:02
It would probably be what our company’s motto is, and our company’s motto is potential over credential. Right? So looking past, like what’s on paper, the people and looking more at what could this person potentially do moving forward? So that’s what I like it.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 23:20
I can think of several organizations that would very likely steal that you bet you better get

Gerry Crispin, CXR 23:24
that phrase immediately.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 23:27
That’s awesome, Potential Over Credential. Fantastic. Michelle, I got to ask you who gets the first sign the copy of your book?

Gerry Crispin, CXR 23:36
Not us.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 23:37
Absolutely, Chris and Gerry, you all

Chris Hoyt, CXR 23:40
can’t give it to us. That sounds too easy.

Michelle Rhee, BuildWithin 23:43
I would say then, that it would probably be our first apprentice that we ever placed. A woman named Malika, who graduated and was offered a full time job with her employer as an IT specialist and she’s knocking it out of the park.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 24:00
Oh my gosh, I love that. Yeah. I love that great stuff. Well, look, Michelle, you get 10 seconds plug something, tell folks where they can go to learn more about either build within or just more about apprenticeships, if they need to check that out. Because I think it’s a wave that’s coming. And if we if we don’t kind of sound the trumpet, I think a lot of folks are going to miss it this time around.

Speaker 2 24:20
Absolutely. So you can get more information about us from www.build within that comm. Or you can email direct me directly at Michelle with two L’s buildwithin.com

Chris Hoyt, CXR 24:32
Oh my gosh, that’s favorite. All right. I’m just gonna put you back in the greenroom for just two seconds. So don’t go anywhere. Don’t hang up on us. And super, super gratitude Much, much much gratitude for you being on the show. We appreciate your time today. Super busy. Gerry. I want to give you a chance. We got a lot going on. We’ve got ta talk tank. We’ve got the history of recruiting. We got a new learning platform that’s been launched. You pick what you want to tell everybody about before we say goodbye.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 24:56
All of them are interesting that I will say that the one thing that I think is really stop. That was Google.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:04
Don’t set mine off. Don’t Don’t do it.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 25:09
But I have to say, the learning piece, especially the one that I just looked at the Pay Transparency piece done by Compa is really a master work for what we need to deal with, in relation to that. And when I think about upskilling, recruiters, etc, to be able to, you know, focus on some of the things that enable them to do a great job. That those kinds of learning pieces, I think we have to see more and more of that, until we see a body of knowledge around that.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 25:44
I would agree with that. So we’ve got two in there, actually. So the one we just did in partnership with Charlie Franklin over at Compa. Fantastic. If I were still ta leader and had recruiters under me, I wouldn’t let anybody make an offer until they had been through that coursework. But we’ve got another one on there, too. You were part of.

Gerry Crispin, CXR 26:02
You have the candidate experience issue, which I think continues to resonate. I keep getting advertisements from people selling me stuff saying there’s this trend that’s been happening about candidate experience, you should get involved with this. And I’m going to thank you very much.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 26:22
All right. If you’re interested in checking that out, you can do that. It’s cxr.works/learning I will say the candidate experience when we launched we’ve already had well over 200 people go through that and complete that get the certificate of training and completion there those points and hours and creds. And the new one that has just gone live for patrons parents as a recruiting advantage. Hands down probably one of the better courses that I have seen online so really, really fun hour and a half to take that again. It wouldn’t be a required it’d be required piece and in my team by still had a recruiting team. All right, well, with that, we’re just gonna say goodnight, Gracie. So let’s say good night Gracie,

Gerry Crispin, CXR 26:58
Goodnight Gracie.

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