Before Colleen Anderson was the executive director of BankWorks and before she spent 30 years in the banking industry, she was a young woman hopping on a bus to Los Angeles with no banking experience, ready to take on the City of Angels.
Anderson’s career began when a bank manager saw her potential, took a chance and hired her despite her lack of experience. Now, Anderson works to give individuals like her — promising professionals who don’t have access to the necessary training for banking careers — a chance to succeed in stable jobs through the BankWorks training program.
BankWorks is a free program that focuses on giving low-income and minority individuals with “barriers to employment” — such as lack of education, transportation or professional attire — an opportunity to work for one of the program’s partner banks once they complete an intensive eight-week training program.
But BankWorks isn’t simply a nonprofit program benefitting underprivileged workers; Anderson said chief learning officers should take note of the program and consider its advantages. Implementing programs such as BankWorks can be an efficient strategy to develop an effective workforce, she said.
By partnering with the program, banks gain access to a pipeline of highly skilled employees who will contribute to the company immediately with minimal additional training after eight weeks. Graduates are guaranteed interviews with the program’s partner banks — Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo — after completing the program. The banks also fast track candidates into consideration for jobs.
“I had more comfort going in because of the information I was given prior to being hired,” said Dominique Satterwhite, a BankWorks graduate now employed at Bank of America.
The program’s employee retention rate is comforting — 87 percent of employees hired through the program are with the company six months later. After one year, 72 percent are still there.
In June, a Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce survey revealed 40 percent of HR professionals said employee retention was their toughest challenge. Channeling employees through programs like BankWorks is a strategy to consider for companies looking to fill long-term positions, rather than spend resources to recruit on their own, Anderson said.
The program works because it combines the hard and soft skills necessary to be successful in the banking industry, said Lisa Meadows, who devised the BankWorks curriculum.
Vocational training programs such as BankWorks that don’t require specialized knowledge also should be useful avenues for workers looking for a promotion or something new. For Satterwhite, the program helped bring out his potential.
“Find a value that you bring to that company and maximize it,” he said. “Turn every weakness into a strength.”