Talent Alliance Accents Corporate Unity

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Talent Alliance Accents Corporate Unity

By Matt Hines

Staff Writer

When AT&T began downsizing in January 1996, it was clear the Basking Ridge, N.J., company would have to let go of more than 8,000 employees on many corporate levels. In an attempt to help its departing workers, AT&T ran a full-page advertisement in several national newspapers, saying: "Our good people could be your good people."

Response to the ad was positive, and many companies called about hiring the employees. AT&T then offered the companies a look at its human resources data bank. And companies, in turn, offered AT&T a look at their human resources files.

This unprecedented sharing of work force information sowed the seeds for the Talent Alliance, Morristown, N.J., a privately funded, not-for-profit organization incorporated three months ago.

The organization, which includes companies in various industries, is dedicated to addressing work force issues through the sharing of resources.

Conceived by human resources executives at AT&T, the alliance gained momentum last year when industry officials began discussing issues such as streamlining and the shortage of skilled professionals.

Joining AT&T in the alliance are companies such as DuPont, Wilmington, Del.; GTE Corp., Stamford, Conn.; Lucent Technologies Inc., Murray Hill, N.J.; NCR Corp., Dayton, Ohio; TRW Inc., Cleveland; Unisys Corp., Blue Bell, Pa.; and Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.

The alliance has also been endorsed by Washington-based organizations such as the National Alliance of Business, The Business Roundtable and the Information Technology Association of America.

The alliance promotes a collaborative approach to training, job matching and career counseling. Members can save money and time on training and education by pooling resources and fostering a more highly skilled work force, according to the alliance.

"AT&T spends over $1 million a day in teaching and training," said Burke Stinson, a spokesman for the company. "In the past, some employees have taken advantage and others have not. We hope that this organization will show people why it is important to increase their worth to the company and how it can lengthen their career with us or any other business."

The chief aim of the alliance is to promote employer and employee awareness toward maintaining and increasing the value of workers to their company and the work force as a whole, said Nancy Shaw, spokeswoman for the alliance.

Through sharing information such as employee resumes and job openings, companies gain access to an employment pool filled with talent and experience, as well as data on work force trends, according to the alliance.

"The '90s have been a decade of downsizing which has included the white-collar worker," said Stinson. And there has been great collaboration among companies on planning day care, retirement programs and health benefits, he said. "These companies put a higher value on humanity versus an emphasis on competition," Stinson said.

With the alliance, companies can learn from one another to help employees and the corporation increase their overall value. The past emphasis on job security has given way to mobility and portability and the ability to take valued skills to other environments, he said.

The alliance will offer four programs. The FuturesForum researches, develops and communicates policy positions on future skills in specific industries. Its career growth centers will provide career planning and counseling. Training and education opportunities will be available through a variety of media, and a job/talent matching system will link applicants with available positions from member companies.

These programs will be offered through a World Wide Web site that the alliance is developing. Plans call for it to be fully functional by April, Shaw said. The web site URL will be (www.talentalliance.com).

Members of the alliance will give selected employees passwords to view limited areas of the site. In this way, prospective employees can check out job listings in certain areas and display their resumes.

"Members are optimistic that companies from every industry will join the alliance as it proves itself to be a valuable human resources tool," said Shaw. "The more members the organization attracts, the more dynamic in experience it gets and the greater the talent pool will grow."

Alliance organizers are confident that the security of the Web site and password system will keep members from raiding one another's talent. There are even plans for companies to lease valuable employees to accommodate workload demands, Shaw said."

"In regard to human resources and many other aspects of business, companies are becoming less concerned about being secretive with their competitors," Stinson said. "We are no longer in an age that says the past is prologue, we are in an age that says let's try."

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