Sadly, not as many of us are baseball fans as there once were. Still, just about everyone in the United States understands how baseball is structured. 

We all know the Major League. Then there are the Minor Leagues. High A, Low A, AA, and AAA baseball is where baseball trains and strengthens its teams. A player moves up through the ranks based on their skill. It can take years to move from the bottom to the Big Leagues. 

For employers looking to ensure they have a talented team now and in the future, the best way is to start thinking like baseball. You need to start your own “farm teams” where you can cultivate great employees. 

Start early

If you’re the hiring manager for a company of 50 or more employees, consider working with the local high schools to find notable talent. This is especially applicable to manufacturing, the service industry, and any kind of local contracting or construction. 

By working at the high school level, you can find those young people who are interested in what you do and might become employees in the future. Start a mentoring program for them that lets them have some insight into what you do. 

After high school

 Once they’re 18, they can legally sign a contract. You can contract them to work for you in exchange for education, training, etc. 

You want to be careful to not craft an indentured servitude contract that keeps them working off debt for decades, but an education expense agreement is legal. 

SHRM offers an example that you can use as a guide.

You might not be able to cover someone’s entire four-year college career, but there’s an excellent chance you can cover a two-year tech school degree or a six-month certification program – and get your money’s worth.

Beyond the degree

If you find someone who has the brains and talent, but needs to learn a particular skill, consider a certification instead of encouraging them to get a degree. 

Google offers certificates in high tech skills that allow smart, capable students to bypass spending four years in college and lets them learn what they need to know in six months. 

Yes, we know, you had to get a degree to get the job you have. In some cases, a college career is necessary, like doctors and lawyers, but not in every case. 

A retail manager doesn’t need a four-year degree, period. Sorry, but it’s true. They need to learn soft skills and some employee management skills, but they don’t need four years of advanced mathematics to execute this role successfully. 

Consider if there’s a way to give your potential employee the education they need in a lot less time by getting them certified in what they need to know in six months or less, rather than sending them to school for years. 

The future is in your control

If you can start a farm team program for your company, your future employees will be right there for you. 

This is especially true if you choose people who are struggling due to life circumstances. Loyalty is almost guaranteed from someone you helped to better their lives.

Start seeing employment in a new way. Consider working with and training employees instead of expecting them to show up at your door ready to go.