The world is facing a massive problem with high youth unemployment rates everywhere while employers are struggling to fill entry level positions. Education is not keeping up with the pace of the industries, and 40% of employers say the lack of critical skills is the main reason why they are struggling to fill entry level positions. Educators and policy makers play a key role in equipping the youth with the right skills, but what kind of solutions are companies coming up with to tackle the skills gap they are facing?
- Graduate Trainee programs
Many large companies have graduate trainee programs as an effort to train recent graduates with the skills they are missing in order to fit the needs of the company. These trainee programs not only give the hard skills the graduates are missing, but also ease the transition from university to employment by teaching the participants how to behave at the workplace. For example, Deloitte Australia pairs each graduate with a buddy and a coach to ease the adjustment to the company culture. The trainee program allows the graduates to get accustomed to the company and its culture, to learn about the industry, and to take part in different projects where they will develop their skills. Usually the trainee programs last for about a year, some giving the possibility to try different fields inside the company or even to work on various locations, ending with a permanent work contract.
- Accelerated learning programs
Graduate programs can be costly, and time taking, and there is no guarantee that the graduate will actually stay at the company after all the development has been done. Accelerated learning courses on the other hand offer quick courses after which the participants will master skills. One example is from Academy Work, who has tackled the widening skills gap of IT professionals in the Nordics by developing professional IT consultants in only 12 weeks. No prior knowledge or experience in programming is needed, just motivation and the willingness to learn. The applicants also need to pass a short quiz testing their logical thinking and numerical skills. After the program the participants will have over 500 hours of coding experience and are promised a permanent job as IT consultants.
The third option that companies are turning to is a bit more traditional. Apprenticeships have been the road to a profession even before universities, yet lately their popularity has decreased. However, they can be an excellent way to train young people to have the needed skills. Especially in Europe, apprenticeships are still used as an alternative to higher education. For example, in the UK Accenture has an apprenticeship program which after three years of on-the-job learning issues the participants a degree. High performers also have the chance to be hired permanently. Apprenticeships are also very common in Germany, where young people have the possibility to take part in vocational training leading to a possibility of 356 different jobs and consisting mainly of on-the-job learning at partner companies.
These were just three ways that companies around the world are trying to tackle their need for skills that recent graduates are missing. If you know of other initiatives, please share in the comments.2