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If jobs stop bullets, why aren't more companies stepping up?

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Becker Logistics and LeadersUp

A Becker Logistics orientation seminar in Carol Stream. Photo: Manuel Martinez
Becker Logistics is a third-party logistics firm that has hired 20 people from low-income areas. But it has struggled to hold on to them: Five are still with the company, which is based in Carol Stream and has offices in Chicago, Barrington and Glendale Heights.
In a bid to keep employees longer, founder and CEO Jim Becker has invested $80,000 in an in-house training program suitable for all levels of hires, from MBAs to those with only rudimentary computer skills. Candidates for entry-level jobs can learn basic customer service and computer skills in the first two levels in two weeks and be ready to work; those destined for management jobs continue on.

Becker also has begun working with nonprofit LeadersUp to recruit and hire. Chronically under- or unemployed people often need help with basic job readiness, says Jeffery Wallace, CEO of LeadersUp, which was created by Starbucks and some of its suppliers in 2013. Based in Los Angeles, LeadersUp established a presence in Chicago in July 2014. Since then, it has placed north of 600 young adults in jobs at 15 local companies. Overall, the retention rate is 67 percent; Wallace says that is 15 points higher than employees recruited through other means.

LeadersUp works with companies to develop a training curriculum for the jobs they are trying to fill. Candidates also learn such workplace necessities as handling criticism from a supervisor and effectively voicing concerns; showing up regularly and on time, particularly the day after payday; and staying focused even when co-workers "start to get on your nerves," Wallace says.

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