Do you value new blood in your business?
I’ve been taking an interest in the job and internship opportunities currently available for young people. My eldest has just finished university and it’s an eye-opener to learn of the knowledge, skills and experience some employers require from new graduates (i.e. intermediate level) whilst valuing this same knowledge, skills and experience with very much a ‘starting out’ wage. If that isn’t a juxtaposition, I don’t know what is.
There’s so little energy and money spent on training young people in the workplace. Businesses want some other company to have done the dirty work, the foundations…they just want to capitalise on it, so that the young person ‘hits the ground running’ when they come to their enterprise. But if everyone passes the buck and won’t take the time to educate young workers, no one wins. Yes, they may take your training and put it to good use within a rival’s company, but that’s the risk you take.
No one expects someone in their first career job to bring anything to the table; managers are only concerned with passing on their wisdom to their charges, who are to do the job their way. No one is saying that experience counts for nothing—of course it does. But when you’ve worked in a certain industry for decades, it’s difficult to be objective, and it becomes harder to judge whether changes to the current status quo could actually fuel or underpin company growth. It’s much easier to just carry on as you always have done.
A young person, fresh out of education, may not understand all the behind-the-scenes whys and wherefores of a process; they’ll just take things at face value. That doesn’t mean that any queries they raise should be rejected on this basis…maybe the process could be streamlined or made simpler/easier. If you’ve ever spent time around a five-year-old, you’ll know that their favourite word is ‘why?’. They question everything. Young people can do the same within your business. Maybe there are some longstanding processes and methods you employ that could do with being challenged. If you’ve not looked at the inner workings of your business closely for many years, how would you know? A young person’s lack of understanding and simplified view of things could actually help your company.
Young people will have spent the last decade or so learning within academia and this thirst for knowledge and curiosity means that they may nail aspects of the job much quicker than older workers who may have to ‘unlearn’ their previous employer’s way of doing things. Young people won’t have picked up any bad habits nor are they likely to cut corners. It’s also unlikely that they’ll just go through the motions in their job—if they’re keen to advance they’ll deliver all that’s asked of them to a very high standard.
It takes a forward-thinking company to recognise the opportunity new, young blood can bring to a workplace and how each party can learn from the other. Many technologies and marketing tools, such as apps and social media platforms, are entities the young have grown up with…they don’t know a world without them. Older people don’t tend to be as invested in the digital world, which presents a learning opportunity. Graduates and apprentices can enrich your company’s knowledge and understanding, just as you can enrich theirs on other subjects.
Despite all these positives, young people get a rough ride when starting out. They don’t just have to earn their wage, they’ve got to earn respect too, which seems a little unfair. If their attributes were sufficiently valued from the off, this wouldn’t be the case. They’re no less of an asset to a company; what they lack in experience and skills they bring in unadulterated energy, drive, innovation and passion.
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