What is the Hire Train Deploy model?

Saffron Wildbore

~ 9min read

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~ 9min read

Hire Train Deploy has plenty of early adopters, but many more organizations have yet to discover it as a solution to the common challenges of traditional talent sourcing strategies. So, what is Hire Train Deploy? Why has it exploded in popularity? And what should you watch out for when choosing a vendor?

We’ll be looking at each of those questions to peel back the layers on the way these solutions actually work, and why they are so impactful.

Johanna Lee (Head of Business Development, mthree in North America) talks us through the concept of Hire Train Deploy.


> What does Hire Train Deploy mean?

Thankfully the model is quite literal. ‘Hire’ because the talent is hired upfront by their Hire Train Deploy vendor.

‘Train’ because that talent then gets trained either in a clients’ specific technologies or in a general technology that’s prevalent in the market.

‘Deploy’ because the trained talent is then deployed to their vendors’ client in order to launch their career, typically on a contract basis, until they get the opportunity to join that organisation permanently.

As an emerging talent strategy, or an early career strategy as it’s also called, Hire Train Deploy focuses on university graduates and the talent pool who are coming into your organisation.

> Where did Hire Train Deploy Come From?

It’s still a relatively new concept actually. Prior to 2016, there was only one Hire Train Deploy company in the US. That company was very niche to a specific industry, but they proved that the Hire Train Deploy service works.

Then venture capital came along. Those initial investments laid the foundations for a more formal, more scalable, more competitive offering for employers everywhere.

Since then, the model has been growing tremendously across the world. In the US alone, easily more than 10,000 graduates have now launched their careers through Hire Train Deploy pathways.

> How does Hire Train Deploy compare to a traditional bootcamp offering?

In a bootcamp scenario, trainees are paying more money upfront to get more training. Whereas in Hire Train Deploy, not only does the training not cost anything, but the trainees are paid during training.

Frankly, most university graduates have already paid enough for tuition by this point in time, and they just need someone to invest in them. This is where Hire Train Deploy shines.

> How is it different from a traditional staffing model?

It’s fair to say that the last part of Hire Train Deploy – the deployment – can feel a bit like staffing, because individuals are deployed on a contract with a bill rate attached.

But it’s the upfront hiring, the training, the constant screening that really separates Hire Train Deploy from traditional staffing. There’s so much that’s taken off the employers’ plate compared to traditional methods.

> What sets it apart from an in-house graduate program?

Every major employer across the globe has in-house university programs, yet many of them also use Hire Train Deploy as a complement to their internal efforts.

There are lots of distinctions, but I’ll share two of the main ones. First, Hire Train Deploy is really effective – especially today – for helping with diversity strategies.

Hire Train Deploy takes a proactive approach to talent rather than the reactive approach of traditional talent strategies, which brings a unique blend of control and predictability to program outcomes.

Secondly, it counteracts the seasonality of your in-house university programs. Internal programs typically run once or twice a year, but the business demand for talent is year-round. That’s where Hire Train Deploy can really make a difference.

> What does this mean for employers?

They get those foundational learnings from university, but also a proving ground that takes people from theory to the practical application of specific skill sets.

They get the agility to keep up with the pace of innovation and corporate expectations, without having to compromise on quality or on the impact of the individual.

On top of that, they get a reduction in upfront commitments. Hire Train Deploy sidesteps the cost, risk and effort that companies traditionally put into hiring for roles in technology, banking or financial services.

Collectively, Hire Train Deploy offers you an exclusive combination of sourcing talent, screening talent, and getting talent ready to be impactful within your organisation, all with no upfront cost or risk. It fits neatly into your overarching talent strategy.

> Why should employers add Hire Train Deploy to their employment strategy?

Venture capital entered the Hire-Train-Deploy market in 2016, but to understand the drivers for this, we’ve got to look back further than that.

Over the last 15 to 20 years, we can see four specific market forces that have shaped IT and, therefore, IT talent strategies for employers. These are market forces that every employer has to deal with, regardless of their brand, size, or their region.

The first three of these forces are the pace of innovation, corporate expectations, and the current education system.

In an ideal scenario, all three would work together in harmony, and 20 years ago, that’s what was happening. In the early 2000s, university graduate skill sets were directly applicable to employers’ needs. A java developer only did java; testers only did testing; database engineers only worked on databases; systems admins only worked on servers.

The siloed nature of these skill sets enabled Innovation, expectations, and education to work together seamlessly.

Of course, that has all changed now. The lines have completely disappeared.

> How does this balance of innovation, expectations and education play out?

It’s not balanced, basically, and that’s the issue. Some rebalancing is needed.

Let’s look at innovation, which is obviously a wonderful thing to do and to be a part of. Think about when the iPhone first came out in 2007. What did most business users do? We held up our Blackberries and said, ‘I don’t have time for music or games; I’m busy getting work done!’ but look how long that lasted.

Or the fact that Amazon released AWS in 2006 as an internal solution, and now it’s everywhere. Or the rise of crypto in the past seven years. Or even just the past couple of years, with the emergence of TikTok resumes in the professional space.

Yes, innovation is great, but it also drives corporate expectations. Naturally, we all want to use and leverage the latest and greatest tech, and business is no different.

The ease of use of the iPhone in our personal lives led to the growth of mobile tech in business. Easily saving, editing, and sending documents in our Gmail accounts, for example, helped drive the growth of cloud tech in business. The advent of crypto is driving every financial institution across the globe to consider setting up digital assets business units. And your talent acquisition teams are going to want to access TikTok resumes, but when their internal systems become the inhibitor, that expectation will drive change there as well.

And where does this leave our education system? Well, it can’t quite keep up, and that’s understandable. Our education system was set up to create logical and critical thinking skills and foundational learnings that last a lifetime. It was never meant to be an agile, nimble, always-changing entity that chases innovation and corporate expectations.

So, as the past 15+ years have transpired, we’ve witnessed an exponential increase in the pace of innovation, closely followed by corporate expectations. Yet our education system remains as intended many hundreds of years ago. The growing difference between these has literally become what we now call the ’Skills Gap’.

> What about the fourth market force that's shaped the past couple of decades?

Last but not least, the final force that’s making this situation even more challenging for employers is good old-fashioned economics.

The ever-widening skills gap is exacerbating the imbalance between supply and demand, especially for what corporations consider to be the right kind of talent or skill set these days.

We’ve all seen articles highlighting the historic levels of competition for talent. Even when organisations get it right – getting the right people into the right teams – the competition doesn’t stop. This, in turn, leads us to the historically high attrition rates we see today in IT. In summary, that’s the struggle for the majority of today’s employers.

> How does this tie back to Hire Train Deploy?

Quite simply, Control and Predictability.

Employers aren’t necessarily giving up on traditional sources of talent because there’s still something of value there. But they are starting to explore alternative ways to bring talent into the organisation.

This is where Hire Train Deploy has really come into its own. It directly answers all the challenges we’ve talked about today. It enables companies to keep up with the pace of technology while still meeting their expectations from a talent-readiness perspective.

It removes the burden of competing for talent, ensures the quality of talent, controls market costs, and reduces the sheer time and effort that other approaches require. It brings a level of control and predictability with it that today’s traditional approaches do not, and this is why it will continue to be part of talent strategies in the future.

> What’s most important when researching options for Hire Train Deploy?

“There are four main areas of due diligence that you’ll want to look into.

“First, the reach of a vendor’s program. Some programs only have one or two trainers, which means they are limited, both geographically and in terms of the content they can cover. Other vendors have a massive content creation engine behind them, meaning they can apply their model to multiple business areas with technical, non-technical, even industry-based trainings.

“The second area of due diligence is flexibility. In the early days of Hire-Train-Deploy, it was “here’s our model, take it or leave it!”. However, these days you should be able to shape the model in accordance with your business needs. There are still going to be limitations, naturally, but customising your curriculum or flexing the contract terms should be a very reasonable expectation today.

“The third point of due diligence is the vendor’s approach to training. Beware of what is commonly called the “train the trainer” approach. A vendor trains a program graduate into a trainer, and that trainer trains another graduate into a trainer, and so on, until you end up with trainers who’ve never been on the open market, never been in front of a customer, never been in an enterprise environment.

All they can relay at this stage is content. By contrast, other vendors use industry experts. They can relay genuine experience in addition to content , resulting in trainees who are more aware and more prepared to be impactful.

“The fourth point of due diligence is an awareness of the trainee experience. From an employer perspective, running a custom Hire-Train-Deploy program is a complete reflection upon your company. The trainees know their program was built for you; that they are being trained for you; that they’ll be interviewing and hopefully launching their careers with you; and perhaps even going full-time with you eventually. That program is you.

“Employers are becoming aware of this, so they’re starting to pay attention to the trainee experience. Some of these things are straight forward, like making sure the trainees get decent benefit plans and proper pay. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with HTD firms. Or making sure there are good support mechanisms to help the trainees continue to grow and succeed, which again, is not always the case.

“The most prominent factor in the trainee experience to do due diligence on though – and there are a multitude of articles about this on the web – centres around the use of contracts and forcing trainees into potentially predatory situations, even with the threat of legal action.”

> How do some Hire Train Deploy contracts damage the trainee experience?

The clear majority of HTD contracts include clauses stating trainees can be entered into any technical training program based on their business needs, and that trainees can be deployed to any location based on their business needs. If the trainee disagrees with the technical program or work location, or in general decides the program is not a fit for them, they must buy themselves out of the contract with exit fees reaching the $30,000 or $35,000 range.

“On the surface, these vendors are trying to enforce retention through contractual obligations. Going deeper though, they are actually shirking their responsibility as an employer- their responsibility to look after their employees; Their responsibility to deploy people into positive environments that they actually want to be a part of, both during the contract and for conversion.

“Imagine if your organisation was absorbing Hire-Train-Deploy talent today, and those people were all forced to be there simply due to a contractual obligation? What do you think will happen when it comes time for conversion, when they are free and clear to make decisions? It’s not going to be a positive conversion exercise.”

> What does the opposite look like?

“Some vendors take a different approach. They don’t use contracts to enforce retention. Instead, they embrace the responsibility of treating their trainees well; of deploying them to clients and locations that they actually want to be a part of; and for launching their careers for the long term. The upshot of this is that the graduates stay on their deployments because they want to, not because they have to.”

We’d love to help you get your foot in the door! mthree gives an edge to employers by finding great talent that’s job-ready from day one.

Interested in future-proofing your workforce by bringing in pre-trained graduates with the skills you need, or reskilling your existing staff?

Get in touch, and check out our resources for enhancing your workforce strategies.

Saffron Wildbore is a Senior Marketing Executive at mthree. She has worked in marketing, specialising in creating content for over 4 years. Saffron focuses on writing tips for graduates, Alumni interviews and more!


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