The skills shortage is becoming an increasing concern amongst many organizations. Recent data from McKinsey has found that 87% of companies either have or expect to have a skill gap in the next few years.
One way of tackling (or preventing) this issue is by looking at onboarding those younger workers who are active in college or university – and a great way of doing this is through offering internships.
As Gen Z enter into the workforce during one of its most unstable periods in history, recent data is showing that this is already starting to have an effect on them: Gen Z workers are the most stressed group in the workplace as they are concerned they lack the skills (78%) and education (71%) required to advance their careers.
In the same way apprenticeships develop talent and engender employer loyalty, internships and work experience are also an innovative way of attracting a generation who, in the current employment market, have so much more choice. So, offering them the opportunity to learn and develop business skills/experience in the professional field they are targeting is a great way of attracting a hands-on generation.
As they graduate from an education system obsessed with performance league tables, many students are leaving with an inconsistent variety of qualifications as their subject choices would have been orientated around driving higher grade attainment. In the same vein, Generation Z is also exhibiting signs of a more divergent “multitasking” approach to their career paths(s), and so employers who embody this mindset place themselves in a much stronger position in the labour market by offering a regular “turnover” of “learning opportunities”.
Using internships as a talent development vehicle is now more important than ever. The Early Careers Survey 2022 found that the main blocker to students finding an internship was the lack of opportunity (35%), as many had been cancelled due to the long-lasting effects of the pandemic. This resulted in only 12% of work experience being conducted through internships, which leaves a huge gap for employers to fill.
As we navigate the post pandemic and Brexit skill shortages, it's more important than ever that employers open their doors and create internship opportunities, as they offer a golden opportunity for talent attraction:
- Internships provide a boost to your labour force, releasing core team members to focus on key priorities, and whilst only short term, the day-to-day tasks an intern discharges are those essential to building their own business acumen and skills.
- Internships are a great tool for attracting new talent and retaining it. For years Blue Chip organisations such as Google, Meta, PwC and Deloitte have used internships, with their workforces being made up of around 80% of those who took part in one.
- They allow for a company to get a real feel for potential new hires, as well as to build and sustain a constructive working relationship, fostering a sense of loyalty through investment.
- From an environmental, social and governance perspective, offering an internship program is a great way of furthering your social agenda, as internships are a solid form of outreach in the local community to offer young people alternative options to further education.
- Purposefully onboarding young people through internships is a great way to get diversified perspectives on your company’s strategy, plans and policies. It will also allow you to get a sense of what young people actually want and this can be used to expand your market accordingly.
- They offer young people a means to successfully build skills in sectors that can often feel inaccessible, especially to those from lower-income and underprivileged backgrounds.
- Internships are a cost-effective option for an employer vs. hiring full-time staff, and whilst based around academic holidays, a successful internship can see a candidate working repeatedly throughout the annual cycle of study period. This permits employers to measure the success of candidates based on their attitude whilst they work towards gaining their qualifications.
However, I offer a word of advice: historically many organisations have opted to offer unpaid internships, and whilst tempting in these frugal times, this approach tends not to foster a performance-orientated mindset or encourage longevity between the two parties. In fact, the aforementioned Early Careers Survey found that career prospects were significantly improved for those who undertook a paid internship (42%) compared to those who were unpaid (30%).
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020