Expanding Your Talent Pool with Internships and Apprenticeships
As we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, let's focus on how two non-traditional staffing options - internships and apprenticeships – may benefit your business. By investing your time and resources in these in these programs as part of your talent strategy, you are expanding your talent pool and solve your staffing needs. Let’s look at these opportunities.
Internships Are More Than Just Summer Jobs
Internships allow you to get to know a potential candidate and how they would work within your team. It's a trial run scenario; the intern explores the position and you measure the overall work and how the intern could contribute to your company. If it is a good fit, and you are ready to hire, then you can bring them on board.
Internship programs expect companies to provide hands-on training and mentorship, while allowing the intern to apply the skills learned in the classroom to a real-life scenario. The interactions with staff and clients, along with critical thinking and problem-solving skills are invaluable. This is why internships look great on a resume! Companies benefit by having interns, too; the intern functions as an integral team member who brings a new perspective and fresh outlook. Interns often work on special projects that advance the business, allowing full-time employees to focus on the work at hand.
Even during COVID-19, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) report that internships remain popular. In April, 29% (up from just 2.4% in March) of responding employers are considering changing to virtual internships this year. In addition, 35% are saying they may shorten or delay the start of their internship programs. As younger populations receive vaccines and COVID-19 infections decrease, expect internships to return to normal fairly soon.
Should I Pay Interns?
Typically arranged through educational programs in colleges and technical schools, internships run for a set period of time. Students may spend anywhere from just a few weeks to a semester during the academic year or summer months. As a company, you may ask whether or not you have to pay interns, especially if they receive college credit for the work experience. Most programs ask that for-profit companies review Fact Sheet #71, Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act, from the U.S. Department of Labor for guidance, along with asking legal counsel for advice. Non-profit organizations typically can have unpaid volunteers as interns. Remember, paid internships opportunties attract the best candidates!
Apprenticeship Programs: Another Way to Find Highly-Skilled Employees
Surging back into popularity since 2009, registered apprenticeships provide another recruitment option for the skilled trades and beyond. Apprenticeships offer paid on-the-job training coupled with classroom learning. Employers select the appropriate occupation from the U.S. DOL list and identify the best educational provider. The employer can choose to train apprentices in-house or work with a community college, trade school, or high school to meet the educational requirements. The end result provides a training program designed by you to best reflect your company culture and operations. Many trade groups and companies employing those in the skilled trades offer apprenticeship programs. Check out the North America's Building Trades Unions' various programs, along with Apprenticeship 2000 as great examples.
Apprenticeships vary in length based on the occupation; expect a registered apprenticeship to last at least one year, but most run from two to four years in length. Even though apprenticeships take longer to complete, companies receive $1.47 ROI for every dollar invested; many companies often see apprentices adding value by year two of the program.
Apprenticeship programs expand your talent pool by attracting new employees of varying ages and skill levels to your company. Offer apprenticeship programs to current employees who want to grow professionally and be promoted from within your company. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, apprenticeships increase employee retention by an average of 89% at the three-year mark. Employees often recognize when companies invest training resources, provide mentorship, and offer career pathways, leading to higher retention rates.
If a registered apprenticeship is new to you and your company, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship offers great resources to get started. Your local high school, community college, or trade school about apprenticeship can help you get started, too.
Are You Ready to Expand Your Talent Pool?
Hiring in today’s job market is challenging across the board. By expanding your talent pool and overall talent strategy with internship and apprenticeship programs, you can identify and train candidates for your company’s most in-demand positions.