If you think technology is changing fast, you’re right. And it has accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic began. A lot has caused this, including innovations that make it easier for us to work and learn at home. To keep up with these changes, employers must work overtime to find people who can push the needle further. When the talent to do this isn’t accessible, it creates more than skills gaps—it limits what these companies can achieve.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, writes Becs Roycroft, Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent and Reskill Operations at Wiley Edge. In this article, Becs discusses how companies benefit when they help graduates continue developing their tech skills.
Outpaced by Tech, Companies Are Struggling to Find Talent
Numbers don’t lie: In a survey of 600 employers, 55 percent said technology is the most sought major for new hires. Unfortunately, technology changes so fast that even recent grads must begin thinking about refreshing their skills. If you want proof, consider how technical skills start becoming obsolete after about 2.5 years, per IBM. That’s twice as fast as non-tech skills.
Before workers worry about staying relevant, they must become relevant. Earning a bachelor’s degree remains a great first step. Data backs this up, as 72 percent of employers consider college degrees “extremely important” when they review candidates. But for some roles, graduates may need additional tech training to get hired. And once they’re on the job, they must commit to ongoing reskilling to stay relevant.
That said, many employers now understand their success depends on investing in professional development. They know having the right skills in the right roles is a huge challenge—and it may be tougher to solve as the skills gap widens. So, many companies are rethinking how they:
- Meet their talent needs through hiring and upskilling
- Keep their current workers relevant through reskilling
To see reskilling’s importance at work, look at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Reskilling Revolution initiative. It focuses on providing “one billion people with better education, skills, and jobs by 2030.” WEF also started the Closing the Skills Gap Accelerators project, which has helped 50 million workers reskill themselves for new roles. And many of their employers now say reskilling is less costly than layoffs.
These initiatives show how learning and development (L&D) lead to workforce sustainability and growth. Creating a learning culture is key. By making personal development a standard practice, they can drive change that lasts. Best of all, they can even help people gain relevant tech skills before hiring them full time.
Providing the Experience Aspiring Tech Workers Need
The HR Booth explores a “catch 22” that haunts many recent graduates: “[You] need a job to get experience, but you struggle to get the experience you need without getting a job.” But universities and companies don’t have to reinvent the wheel to fix this problem. After all, internships offer a direct way to provide relevant experience, and they can be part of college programs.
Labour Economics published a study indicating that making internships a part of degree programs can “improve employment prospects substantially.” When universities develop networks for placements, they reduce the stress that students feel when seeking internships with tech companies.
Having a database of internship partners is particularly important when hiring slows. As discussed in Inside Higher Ed, COVID-19 affected more than campus life—it also nixed many internships students needed to graduate. Having this database can help students navigate uncertain times. So can creating virtual options for hands-on learning.
Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from internships. The Chronicle of Higher Education reviewed how internships can provide value to employers, too. To make the most of these programs, employers can focus on:
Improving Retention by Hiring Interns
Interns are quite loyal to employers who give them a chance. According to TechRepublic, about 52 percent of interns who transition to full-time roles stay with that company for at least five years. The same is true for only about 36 percent of employees who didn’t start as interns. So, despite needing more upfront training, an intern’s eagerness to stay may help cut hiring costs later.
Adding Tech Savviness
College students can learn a lot from employers. But when it comes to doing more with mobile devices, the opposite is often true.
Many traditional college students today never had to learn to use mobile devices. It was second nature, according to Entrepreneur. When these students become interns, they can help companies use these devices in new ways. This reverse-mentoring can help employers spot technology trends they may have overlooked.
Creating a Learning Culture
Internships allow everyone to learn something. That includes managers and HR staff. An HR Daily Advisor article explores how team leads must refine their training and supervising processes when they offer roles to interns. This work gives employers chances to improve how they onboard and train all employees.
If an intern fits a company’s culture, they could be ideal for full-time roles. On one hand, this helps employers cut what they spend on recruiting and onboarding. On the other, it allows companies to retain talent before a competitor lures them away.
More Ways to Turn Recent Graduates Into the Right Talent
Many universities and companies find it hard to create internship programs that turn people into productive tech employees. Fortunately, there are organizations specifically created to train graduates to acquire the technical and professional skills that employers need. For instance, Wiley Edge focuses on building up the skills a graduate already has. At the same time, the graduate gains new skills that are perfect for a specific role. The result? Graduates are ready to work on day one.
This technical training can prepare graduates to specialize in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, software development, and beyond. To go further, these organizations bolster technical competencies with professional skills. By focusing on the following areas, they help recent graduates make a smooth transition from a campus to corporate culture:
- Attitude, behavior, and ethics
- Setting goals
- Presentation skills
These organizations often provide additional support to place graduates in jobs, such as improving their CV and résumé. These documents can extend beyond work experience to include:
- Virtual sessions
- Online courses
- Skills bootcamps
- Industry-specific webinars
Documenting these activities lets recent graduates show hiring managers they keep up with industry trends and strive to improve their skills. They can also add volunteering and charity work to their résumés to show they care about their community. Pairing these details with their tech training only makes them stronger candidates for open roles.
The training that these organizations offer isn’t “extra.” Instead, it’s a bridge that allows graduates to advance from college to a tech career. Graduates expand the knowledge that came with their degree and acquire the tech skills needed to deliver for employers.
Let’s Prepare College Grads for Tech Roles
These initiatives are only a preview of the many ways to support talent as the tech industry grows. By working together, we can close the skills gap and drive business forward.
About Becs Roycroft
Becs Roycroft is responsible for the Global Emerging Talent and Reskill Operations for Wiley Edge. She works with the Academy, Sales, Talent, University Partnerships, and Operational teams across the business to ensure a best-in-class experience for alumni and high-quality services for clients.
Becs began her career working in IT recruitment, where she was a top-performing salesperson before moving into senior management roles. Becs has worked on a broad spectrum of workforce solutions, including MSPs and RPOs, employed resource models, and apprenticeships. She is also delivering on her true passion—emerging talent and reskill training solutions.