A recent graduate peruses the job boards in search of her first job in her field. Let’s say she has a degree in mechanical engineering. She had been the top in her class, knows CAD, sketches drafts like a mathematical genius with serious artistic skill and develops accurate prototypes. She also has one to two internships on her resume. Getting a job should be easy.
As she reads job ad after job ad, her optimism begins to be plummet. Every job asks for 5-10 years of experience and requires the knowledge of some proprietary software of the company, nothing she’d learned in college or used at her internships. Worse, most of these jobs only offer $10-$12/hour, which is what she makes at her retail job.
This happens in the STEM and vocational fields recently pushed by employers, as well as in the creative fields and many other industries. Then, when the hiring managers can’t find the candidates they’re looking for, they blame the colleges and the graduates and cite the “skills gap” as the problem. Well, guess, what? It’s time employers take a look at themselves in a mirror.
Colleges do not replace the employers’ responsibility to invest in new employees with adequate training, nor should they be expected to do so. While many college students will gain practical, hands-on skills training that will benefit a specific job or industry, understanding theory and learning how to solve problems for a well-rounded education is better for the economy and the future of civilization overall. If you want your employees to be invested in what you do, then you need to invest in supplementing their education with an adequate training program. Otherwise, you’ll never find the “right” candidate because one doesn’t exist.
And besides, if employers continue to constrict education to create degrees such as B.S. in [Insert Company Name] instead of more broad degrees like B.S. in Marketing or B.S. in Information Technology, then what happens when the company goes out of business? Or technology replaces what the company does? The degree becomes obsolete, and such a narrow skill set also stunts future innovation and development. Not cool.
Entry-level positions should not require a decade of experience. Most recent graduates haven’t been adults for a decade, nor do they have an extensive resume of experience. An ambitious graduate might have several internships. But if internships don’t count as experience for your open position, then you’re shortchanging recent graduates and undercutting more experienced talent by telling them they have to start at the very bottom all over again.
Offer a decent salary for the education, experience and responsibility you’re asking for in the position. If you want someone who is smart, talented and creative, then be willing to pay for it. Otherwise, you’ll only get someone to keep the cubicle warm until another company comes along that is willing to pay a proper wage. A really low wage (when the company could definitely offer more) just shows that the employer doesn’t care much about the position or its contribution, so why should the employee care either? Don’t undervalue the work.
Recent graduates, what do you wish HR managers and employers knew? Tweet your thoughts to us @feather_mag.
(image source: public domain/flickr.com)