Unique approach to staffing saves over $2 million annually
Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) faced a large effort
to reengineer software applications due to the looming Year 2000
challenges. As a result, it needed to hire additional programming
staff to complete this significant programming effort on-time and
with no impact to the business. At that time COBOL programmers were
demanding premium salaries due to the demand being so great across
the world for their talents. LabCorp needed a unique approach to
staffing to solve their Year 2000 challenges.
As Director - Development Technologies, I was responsible for creating
the LabCorp IS Rookie program. This program partnered with Universities
across the State of North Carolina to identify their most talented
upcoming graduates. Each graduate candidate participated in an extensive
interview process to evaluate their technical skills and success
potential. Those graduate candidates passing the interview process
were offered acceptance into LabCorp's IS Rookie program as a temporary
The IS Rookie program was an extensive and demanding 11 week program
that taught the trainee COBOL development and LabCorp development
tools, techniques, and standards. The entire program was developed
in-house and delivered by IS University staff for whom I had responsibility.
The program included frequent assignments, evaluations, and tests
used to measure each candidate. At the end of the 11 weeks a formal
graduation was had for those candidates successfully completing
the program. Graduates then become full-time LabCorp employees and
were assigned to various departments across the IT organization.
The IS Rookie program was a great success and a win-win for all
participants. The program allowed LabCorp to gain high-quality,
highly trained candidates with great potential for success at significantly
reduced labor costs than could be found on the open market. The
candidates received high-quality, job specific training and were
guaranteed a full-time position upon successful completion of the
program. The Universities were able to offer high-capacity graduates
a unique potential employment opportunity with a good, stable employer.
To offset the costs associated with this program, I went through
an extensive application process and received a $150,000 grant from
The State of North Carolina. The state has grant monies available
for companies training and retraining employees for purposes of
keeping business in the state. The grant requires partnering with
and is administered by a junior college local to the grantee. In
2004 the State of North Carolina was evaluating eliminating this
grant program due to budget cut requirements. Our grant sponsor
went to the state legislature and used the LabCorp IS Rookie program
as the model program for the state to successfully argue keeping
funding for this important program.
In 2003, the IS Rookie program was reengineered to focus on J2EE/Java
technologies. The program continued to work with Universities to
identify high-capacity candidates, but also opened the program to
existing LabCorp programmers to retrain them in J2EE/Java technologies.
The IS Rookie program had 7 graduating classes and a total of 79
graduates. Extrapolating the reduced personnel costs associated
with this headcount results in a savings of approximately $2 million
in annual personnel savings.