The US has a significant Youth Skills Gap and you can make a difference while growing your company faster!
- With a national unemployment rate above 7.6%, youth unemployment is double.
- An Associated Press study found that 50+% of all college graduates had not found jobs commensurate with their skills.
In Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs , Prof. Peter Cappelli (Wharton) notes that turning to schools and government agencies doesn’t work. He concludes that the solution lies with companies. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, reached the same conclusion and created Create Jobs for USA a program to raise money from customers to help fund a jobs training program for people out of work. However, such an approach is not self-sustainable. I’d like to share one which is, and can serve many more kids: Quality Student Mentoring Programs.
Employers can help students identify jobs that are appropriate for them while still in school, so they take courses that enable them to acquire the skills and knowledge that fit desired careers. Through internships, they also learn how the workplace operates (e.g., teamwork and interpersonal communication) and make better career decisions. As an intern observed, students shouldn’t get their first exposure to hospital life in medical school and then discover they can’t handle the blood, pressure, hours, etc.
Second, mentoring students pays large benefits for companies.
- Use them to identify new talent to recruit. One CEO reports that one-third of the team came in as interns. “Everyone who applies is smart; the internships let us discover whether they’ll fit into our culture.”
- Students can work on extra research and pilot projects – expanding company offerings cost-effectively.
- Supervising students gives Mentors the opportunity to improve their executive management skills.
- Demonstrate the company’s societal commitment by helping young people find the right jobs and careers.
Throughout my career, I’ve offered internships to students from high school through graduate school. They learn about jobs and the workplace, and use the information to choose appropriate courses. In many cases, students came to stretch their skills and get a broader view of a profession. For instance, at PPNYC, pre-med students learned about “customer” service and how long waiting times are counterproductive to health “education”. They enabled us to conduct research, evaluation & development projects; several later got jobs. I’ve mentored over 500+ interns (marketing, sales, internet, public policy, health care, etc.) and their feedback has been very positive; helping get jobs they want and feeling better equipped to enter their fields of work.
Mentor Our Kids (www.mentorourkids.org) is an organization focused on helping Companies (1) increase the number of available internships and (2) improve the quality of programs from the perspectives of the Company Program Coordinators, the Supervising Mentors and the students. Our first two priorities are (1) building an online How-To Manual for the Coordinators and Mentors to facilitate building a successful program, and (2) building a support community so Coordinators and Mentors throughout the nation can support one another.
Imagine the impact that businesses can have if they commit to providing student mentoring. While most Vistage member companies with $5-$500 in revenues can mentor several students at a time, assume they only take one per Spring, Summer and Fall semester; the 16,000 members would serve almost 50,000 students!
Ready to make a difference? If your company doesn’t have a Mentoring Program or has one that can be expanded and/or improved to better serve students, let us know so we can help you. It’s a quadruple win! Everyone benefits: students, companies, mentors, and the country as a whole as we shrink the youth jobs gap.