Many employers across industries are concerned that the candidates coming to them are not prepared to do the work their companies need done. If you are not doing one or all of the following activities in your community and workplace, you have only yourself to blame for the poor state of your workforce.
Step up to develop your community's youth and your future workforce will improve.
1. Support After-School Programs
After-school programs are expanding to cover a wide variety of activities and skills. Programming, pubic speaking, salesmanship, leadership, and other critical skills are often taught by clubs that you could support. For example, robotics clubs can teach students about problem solving, critical thinking, and other valuable aptitudes. As an employer, you should volunteer your company's time, expertise, materials, funds, or space to these developmental wonderlands.
Can't find a program in your area that fits your needs? Help start one. The kids are hungry for them.
Internships provide many benefits to interns and employers alike. The exploration of an industry or a type of job can inspire a young person's future career and education decisions. The opportunity to work alongside adults teaches students about acceptable workplace behavior before they make mistakes in their first real jobs.
You can use internships as a type of try-before-you-buy extended interview process. You can turn that superstar intern currently working for you into your next great hire as soon as they graduate – way before any of your competitors learn about their skills.
If you want to make the most of an internship program, pay your interns! Just do it. If you cannot afford to give your interns regular paychecks, pay them via scholarship or, at the vary least, make sure they get school credit for their time with you.
3. Scholarships (They're Not Just for College Students)
If the local school system is not developing enough qualified young people for your industry, or if competitors and/or bigger companies are getting all the best candidates, scholarships may be the answer you seek.
Scholarships can help students take on education paths they otherwise couldn't afford to explore. Their new education paths can lead to undergraduate degrees, advanced degrees, technical training, or industry certifications. This builds a talented pipeline that feeds directly into your workforce.
Furthermore, the brand recognition your company will receive as a community leader supporting the youth is powerful for recruiting both the students themselves and professionals who are further advanced in their careers.
4. Career Day Visits
Awareness is critical for gaining mind share with students.
When kids are very young, they are dreaming of being pilots, doctors, star athletes, and pop stars. This happens because these are the fields they are exposed to as career options. You can raise your company's profile by volunteering for career days at local schools and explaining (in age appropriate terms) what is so cool about your industry. Are your products used by households all over the world? Are your services helping customers save lives? Have the kids used your products without even knowing it?
Explain how your business fits into the real world. Open up realistic career opportunities in the students' minds. It's community outreach, and it feels good to do it.
5. Get Real About Those Job Requirements
Do all those job requisitions really require college degrees? We, as a nation, have overinflated our job requirements. Many jobs can be accomplished without earning a prestigious degree first.
The justification often relied upon when attaching a degree to a job as a requirement is that it shows us the candidate can "stick with something." And yet, there are many other ways to test someone's resolve. Just because a college degree is an easy way to filter an applicant database, that doesn't make it a good measurement of someone's suitability for a job.
Think more analytically about what you are seeking; don't settle for what is simple.
These activities will help you develop your future workforce, build your employer brand, and foster pride within your existing employees. Furthermore, if you help someone's child understand the world of work, obtain an education or training, or land a quality job, you will gain brand appreciation with consumers – if not loyalty – and develop a stronger bond to your community.
Lois Melbourne is an experienced HR professional and author of the My Future Story book series, which aims to help students and young people find their passion in life and turn it into a career.