How internships could prove a win for us all

By Ron Maxwell - CEO 

In today's job market, young people report finding it harder than ever to find full-time employment, yet we are facing skills shortages across many of our key industries. 

In any business, but particularly those in industries like hospitality, where the margins are tight, hiring the wrong person can cost the business on a number of levels, so it's easy to see why employers might feel nervous when it comes to taking on a new trainee or apprentice. On the employee side, young job seekers and school leavers might not have a strong sense of what they want to do, so committing to a 12 to 36-month apprenticeship or traineeship can be daunting. 

One solution, in my opinion, is to bring together more organisations who have skill gaps and young people who are interested in trying out the industry, under an internship model. Successful internships give young people a chance to trial working in the industry, pick up some technical skills and develop their soft skills and workplace readiness, while for businesses, it’s a low-risk way to trial a new employee and maybe find their next trainee in the process.  Essentially, it's a road test for both parties.

It will build workplace readiness and increase employment opportunities

I've talked before about how our younger generations often leave school without the skills that are necessary to succeed in a workplace, such as communication, collaboration and critical thinking.  Exposure to a new industry through an internship will not only give them a chance to trial the industry and pick up some technical skills, it will also provide the opportunity to develop and expand on their general workplace capability. 

Often the key to successful recruitment is in cultural fit, but this can be difficult to determine at interview, making it hard to see beyond the skills on a resume and leaving it harder for young people with limited experience to find employment. Internships are a good way to encourage more businesses to take a chance on an inexperienced candidate without the risk of hiring the wrong person for the job. 

It will help young people commit to the right career

Traineeships and apprenticeships are a long-term commitment that involve significant investment from both the trainee and the employer.  It is a big decision for both parties, so giving them a chance to work together first just makes sense and makes internships the perfect pathway into further study and qualifications.

And if it doesn't work out, that's a learning opportunity for everyone involved.  Not everyone is suited to every environment. It can take some young people longer to find their niche, and this is better found out before they commit to an apprenticeship or traineeship. I've seen it before where a young person thinks they might like to work in a particular industry and embarks on an apprenticeship, only to find out that they are not suited or happy in that industry environment.  It's a waste of both time and money for the apprentice and the employer alike. If we first offer the opportunity for a young person to trial day-to-day life in an industry this will lead to more informed decision-making for both parties.

It will benefit the unemployed and the economy

It's not just recent school leavers who stand to benefit from this.  Think about the impact on young people who have been unemployed for a while.  If they are inexperienced and have been through a period of unemployment, the odds are often stacked against them finding employment, only furthering the cycle.

We know long-term unemployment can lead to mental health issues and depression, making it even harder to find work.  On top of the individual costs of unemployment, the public purse bears the welfare and health costs it can result in. The key lies in breaking the cycle, and there are many good news stories out there of how local employers have given unemployed job seekers a chance, leading to a win/win situation that also benefits the local community at the same time. 

At VERTO, we see day in, day out how employment drives self-worth and the change it can make for the better.  So, in my opinion, if there is a chance an internship program can help more people into employment, improving their quality of life, mental health, and feelings of self-worth, while also reducing the economic costs of unemployment, we should be prepared to give it a chance.