Monday June 24, 2013
A film soon to hit our cinema screens, The Internship, staring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, is about two salesmen who have been replaced by technology; resulting in their redundancies. They go on to secure internships at none other than technology giant, Google, and end up competing for permanent employment against other interns half their age, who are more familiar with new technology and gadgets.
Although a light hearted comedy, The Internship brings a very pertinent issue to the fore – are businesses missing out on talent by limiting internships and apprenticeships to Generation Y? Are older applicants stereotyped and dismissed? Is the process too daunting?
According to research carried out by the Data Service in 2010-11, 457,200 apprentice positions were available in the UK. Of these, 182,100 were started by people aged 25 or over. Compared to five years ago, where only 300 people aged 25 or older took up these roles, this is a vast increase – highlighting that there are now more people looking for opportunities to intern and thus enhance skills and even change career path.
With this in mind internships, apprenticeships and general development should embrace all generations – from the boomers who are hard-work and traditional, all the way to the millennials who grew up with technology. And now there are so many pathways to higher education and career progression, that it would be foolish for organisations to ignore the skills of those at all stages of their careers.
Different generations tend to have different views because of environmental, political and local influences during their formative years, and their perceptions of work also vary. Creating a diverse workforce is important. Not only does it open your business to different skill sets and views;it also encourages the sharing of experiences, which, when combined, are highly valuable and lead to success.
So how can you ensure that you have diversity in your organisation and promote your recruitment initiatives to all:
1. Level the playing field– is your internship appealing to all? For example if you are posting an advert, does it say things like ‘looking for a graduate’. Ask yourself is the role really graduate specific, or could another person be suitable. Also, avoid using jargon or technical terms that generations may not be familiar with, as this may put them off.
2. Be flexible– different generations will have views on how they want to work, baby boomers may well want to work within standard working hours and think nothing of coming in early and staying late to get the job done, whilst Gen Y’s will want to have a more flexible work/life balance. Recognising and supporting the need and value of generational differences is important though it may also be that a little cross pollination of ideals is required too. Talk about expectations when you interview and make sure these are aligned.
3. Manage their aspirations– those of older generations will probably have a more traditional way of working and learning. However millennials will find communicating and working through the use of technology more effective. Millennials may also have ambitious expectations, so setting various challenging tasks, suited to different expectations, can keep your people engaged.
Who fills your internship roles? Would you say these are appealing to all generations?