Creating Opportunity Max Nelson  | September 21, 2018

Futureproofing: Why This Company Sources Talent Locally (And Why You Should, Too)

“Futureproofing” features U.S. businesses, big and small, investing in the workforce of tomorrow. Check out more at Forwardontalent.org.

When we think about local sourcing, we tend to think about farm-to-table cuisine at a restaurant or local supply chains feeding a manufacturing company. Indeed, sourcing inputs and ingredients from your own backyard provides benefits to companies across many industries.

But what about the talent supply chain?

That’s where Novelis has mastered the art of local sourcing.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Novelis is a leading producer of aluminum products. With more than half of the company’s engineering team expected to retire in the next decade, the company needed to enhance its recruitment programs to attract new prospects and retain its young engineering talent. In 2013, Novelis established what it calls the Engineering Development Program (EDP) to bolster its recruitment efforts and provide technical and professional training for its early-career engineers with a focus on future growth and development.

But when Novelis first launched the program, the company chose to recruit only from top universities, regardless of whether or not graduates were located near a Novelis facility. This resulted in high rates of employee turnover and dissatisfaction. The Novelis talent team knew it had to shift its approach to attract the right type of talent that would thrive in smaller, more rural manufacturing environments.

We spoke with to Joanne McInnerney—Vice President of Human Resources at Novelis—about the company’s new localized approach to talent recruitment and tips she would offer to other companies facing similar challenges. Her advice:

Good on paper isn’t always good enough

“When Novelis first launched the EDP, we recruited engineers from tier-one universities regardless of geography. We soon learned that many of these transplants were not comfortable living in a small town so we saw high attrition rates and short tenures. We decided to change our focus to recruiting top talent at local universities near Novelis’ facilities, where people often had family roots, and as a result, we saw an increase in retention rates and happier engineers.”

Slow things down

“Rather than placing graduates in the program directly out of school, candidates must now work for at least six months at a Novelis plant as an intern, co-op, or direct hire before being eligible to apply to the EDP. After proving they’re a good cultural fit and that they possess a genuine interest in manufacturing, they are then enrolled in the program. This new approach allows all interested participants a chance to apply their skills and talents in a true manufacturing environment and get a real sense of the people and company culture prior to enrollment.”

Invest in your team

“The most common misconception about the program is that once completed, there are limited additional opportunities for development. In reality, upon successfully completing the program, Novelis works closely with each participant throughout their careers to provide clear career paths that align their business interests with Novelis’ business needs across myriad engineering disciplines.”

**Novelis is one of many U.S. businesses rethinking education and workforce issues in the U.S. Check out ForwardonTalent.org for more stories of cool companies doing cool things to strengthen the country’s workforce.