After years spent studying and racking up thousands in debt to achieve a degree you would think the first thing a student has to do is get a job – before they’ve even graduated.
But not everyone thinks so. In fact Mary Curnock Cook, the outgoing head of British university admissions service UCAS, says students should take their time before finding a job.
She says “that many youngsters needed time to find their career niche.” And it was important they had some down time after studying.
Recently, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) said that most employers claimed that graduates aren’t skilled enough to join the world of work.
So how can employers help graduates make the transition from the world of studying to work?
The most practical answer is to offer students work experience. And these are the reasons why its beneficial to employers:
1. It helps your other employees
Having someone on a work experience placement means they need supervision, guidance and even a mentor. This helps to boost your team’s morale as it shows them that you trust them enough to be responsible. It also helps your employees develop their own supervisory skills which will help you and them should a senior position arise that they could be considered for.
2. It’s good branding for the company
If you’ve got a really effective and organised work placement scheme that young people genuinely feel they can benefit from then they will soon be telling their friends, who will be telling their friends. This means you get to choose from the best young talent out there.
Word of mouth is one of the best forms of marketing out there – and it’s free. Your company’s reputation for investing in young people will be ranked quite highly so more people will want to come and work for you.
3. It doesn’t cost you financially (no, really)
You don’t legally have to pay for people on work experience students. That doesn’t mean you can take advantage of a free workforce and exploit them as that would just be wrong, but most people understand that work experience is just that – experience. Some companies do offer to pay for travel expenses or provide lunch vouchers but if it means you can spot future talent then it’s a small price to pay.
Now unless the person has been brought to your company kicking and screaming because they don’t want to be there, most people on work experience come with a bag full of enthusiasm and positivity and often brimming with new ideas.
5. It’s a great recruitment strategy
There’s no doubt the workforce is getting younger and if that’s where you see your company going in the future then by offering work experience programmes is a great way to go about this. It’s easier to spot talent when you can see them in the work place and there is nothing stopping you from offering them a permanent role such as an apprenticeship or part time roles whilst they are at university?
Young people are also like sponges and will soak up what they learn at your company. This will reduce your cost of bringing in more experienced, skilled professionals.
6. Helps young people to mature
Most people on work experience will never have been exposed to the world of work and most of their knowledge about the world of work will be classroom-based or something they’ve read on the internet or social media. So, when they do work experience, they tend to mature and are able to make more informed choices about their future career.
They’re also more likely to stay within that industry and, if you are in a position to offer permanent work such as apprenticeships or graduate positions, that person is more likely to remain with your company.
Whether students should secure work before they’ve even left university or wait until they’ve found the right career for them is something that can be debated all day long. But as an employer it wouldn’t harm you to give them a helping hand now and again.