A Skills Shortage – Here’s what you can do

There are many articles written around the concept of a “skills shortage”.

More and more South Africans are matriculating, gaining tertiary qualifications, yet struggling to find a job in the workplace, often being told that they do not have enough experience to do the actual job. This “skills shortage” is a very real problem for employers too. Although there are more people that are qualified, they are not properly equipped with skills needed in the workplace. This issue is made worse by the fact that the available, properly equipped, talent pool is ever shrinking.

What is clear is that the skills needed and the skills taught are two very different things. This disconnect clearly identifies that schools and tertiary institutions are not currently able to teach all the necessary skills needed for the workplace. The speed at which technology is changing far outstrips the speed at which syllabuses can be changed and updated.

Another fundamental flaw in the education to new graduates is that education and training rarely, or almost never measures technical skills but rather only theoretical knowledge. Theoretical knowledge is good, but being able to actually do the job, this is a very different skill set all together. This ‘lack of technical ability’ means that there is a new need created, a need to “learn on-the-job”, but getting a job with no experience, can be extremely challenging.

There is however something that businesses and brands out there can do about this issue, to help not only themselves, but their industries as well – through the creation and offering of meaningful internships. Not the type of internships where the interns are stuck in an office or used as unpaid coffee makers. Internships where graduates are not gaining real work place experience adds no value to the intern and do nothing for the industry as a whole. When this happens, interns are often left demotivated and having a dislike for the career they have chosen.

A truly meaningful internship is one where the employee is prepared, and plans to add value to the intern, teach real on the job skills needed and help grows passion for their industry.

Employees also need to shift their perception of internships if it is negative. Internships, if used correctly, can have many benefits for the business as well. These include:

  • Identification of future employees,

  • A great opportunity to test out junior talent before hiring,

  • Interns are a low-cost (good interns are never free) source of skills

  • Interns can provide an extra set of hands, a different perspective, new techniques and fresh untainted ideas.

The hiring of interns and the provision of good meaningful internships, can add tremendous value to the business and the industry you operate in. Therefore, lets do something about this “skills shortage”. Why not set up an internship programme and provide students with good quality, meaningful internships that will better not only the industry you operate within, but perhaps the South Africa too?

Crafted by Chris Midgley

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