Recruiter Soap Box: Are we doing enough to generate graduate jobs?

Reports reveal that the manufacturing, retail, automotive and construction sectors are at their best growth rates since the recession. Social Media Trainer and Recruiter Jorgen Sundberg questions if our recovering economy is generating enough opportunities for our professional talent.


It appears the British economy is finally picking up after a ‘little’ 5-year downtime and if it isn’t the Olympic spirit paying off, it must be the sheer fact that we’re all tired of the R-word by now.

You would think this apparent boost in the economy would mean companies hiring more staff, including taking on more interns. But how many grads do you know who have joined the ranks of an internship programme recently?  I bet you can name a few who decided to pack their bags and leave for a job in Dubai selling something for a UK company. The Gulf is probably one of the most obvious places to seek one’s fortune a young professional but hey, why not explore Ghana or the rest of West Africa as well?

Now that’s all well and good for the graduate with wanderlust, but the issue is of course that British universities are essentially government-funded and should ideally deliver well-educated talent to organisations in this country. The reason Dubai or Ghana may seem appealing options are that there aren’t many career opportunities for fresh graduates around – are we doing enough to generate graduate jobs?


More internships please, we’re British

One way to pave the way to more jobs is of course to increase the number of internships that British companies offer. There are plenty of benefits to hiring interns; employers can meet peak or seasonal needs without having to offer long-term employment. Internships are a cost-effective way of pipelining potential future employees. It’s a low-risk method of training highly qualified and motivated graduates. And these schemes help to build relationships with universities and increase employer brand amongst students.

So the question is, can we compel more companies across the country to offer internships as an entry to a career, and hopefully one in their organisation?

With the current government tightening up the criteria for highly skilled migrants from outside the European Union, it’s harder than ever to recruit top talent from overseas. One way of securing the flow of highly skilled talent is of course to offer more internships and to cherry-pick the best interns for long-term commitment.


Best rated internships in the UK

By taking a quick look at we find that the best rated companies offering UK internships are within the finance and professional services sectors, the top 10 include Barclays, Grant Thornton, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, LinkLaters and Ernst & Young. Could it be that these organisations have clocked on to a potential skills shortage? Perhaps they have come to understand that taking on interns is one way of managing this risk?


What about manufacturing?

With all the talk about UK PLC not making anything, the manufacturing sector is still doing rather well despite suffering from a chronic shortage of skilled engineers. But yet again, we have to seriously ask ourselves, how will the best in this field be recruited?

Again, there is much merit in the idea of offering internships, or even better, offering a sought-after internship programme that will look great on a graduate CV. Imagine the value of having had work experience at companies such as Rolls-Royce and ARM for an engineering graduate, and in turn the value it will add to your business to be known for offering a competitive internship. If your company doesn’t have the strong brand, simply work harder to put together a very attractive programme that will appeal to the best candidates. Once they have completed internships with you, where possible, make sure that a proportion of these are offered a position and in this way your internship program will also be known for its ability to scout strong success employees.


The Bottom line

So here’s the message to employers; by taking on more interns you’re not only securing good talent over time, but you’re also increasing your employer brand. Not only are you doing something to boost the economy, but you are helping a young person gain some valuable experience and simultaneously providing the next generation with the adequate skills to keep your sector moving forward.

So please think beyond just plugging skills gaps today, but instead think strategically about where you’ll need talent over time and see what an internship programme can deliver for your business.


You can follow Jorgen Sundberg through Twitter or through his blog Linkhumans.

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