There has never been a better time to enter into IT. However, acquiring and keeping young people at your organisation can prove a challenge. Industry experts have therefore looked at what the Channel can do to attract young people and have shared their thoughts to Intelligent Tech Channels.
Kerry De Mendonca, Talent Acquisition Lead at Altron Karabina
Attracting young people is not difficult due to the number of graduates entering the job market and the high unemployment rate in our country. The challenges are to find candidates that are the right fit for the business and to retain them after a year or two, once they have gained experience.
We find there is a gap between what graduates are being taught at a tertiary education level in terms of their ability to translate their technical skills to solve relevant business problems.
For us as a channel partner, it is important to find candidates that have an interest in business and a strong business acumen. This enables them to understand our customers’ Digital Transformation challenges and opportunities from a business rather than a technology point of view. With this in mind, programmes such as ‘We Think Code’ are invaluable to companies as they deliver readily available talent with the necessary hard and soft skills who can join a business and add value.
We run an intensive programme for graduates where they learn about the different product and services suites within specific areas of business. They get to shadow a senior representative in that specific segment of the business, and we provide them with coaching, specifically soft skills as well as presentation and customer engagement skills.
Once they’re onboarded and upskilled to make them fit for the business, the next challenge is to retain them. After a candidate has one or two-years’ worth of experience, they will find it fairly easy to secure a job at another company with the ability to deliver value almost immediately and at a reasonable cost. One of the main drivers at their level is the ability to earn a higher income. For this reason, they become more fluid; if an opportunity arises where they can receive a salary increase, they will take it.
We make use of several methods to retain younger employees. Engaging with them is very important. We find out what they want from the company in terms of their career goals, and even personally to some degree, and how we can help them achieve them.
Interestingly, this isn’t only a conversation; younger employees want to see a tangible plan. It is also vital that they see themselves fulfilling a meaningful role inside the company, which in turn links to their cultural and personal values. Social engagement is another aspect to consider; create opportunities for young people to engage and connect with their colleagues on a social level.
There are a number of ways companies can make themselves attractive to young people. Younger employees enjoy flexible working hours, the ability to work remotely and an inclusive work environment. In addition, placing them with a leadership structure is critical as they want colleagues that lead by example, show interest and see them as an asset to the business. Companies should see employing young people as a strategic opportunity to utilise their talent and transform themselves.
Haig Colter, Director, Alliances, ThreatQuotient
The channel is no different than other companies looking to attract, and retain, young people. I believe that many young people are looking for more than just a job; they want to be part of something exciting and be able to see how their efforts are contributing to the success of the company they are working for. The channel can attract young people by focusing on four key areas:
- Culture. Company culture is critical to attracting and keeping young people. If your organisation recognises and values the culture of the company it is a key way to make people want to come and work for you. If there is an energy and buzz, and genuine interest by those working at your company, it will attract other young people who want to be part that energetic organisation. That positive energy is infectious and people want to be part of something dynamic and exciting. Additionally, companies with a strong culture are more likely to have motivated employees who will be more productive. This is a good transition to my next key area;
- Environment. If you have a work environment that contributes to collaborative work, easy communication and is an enjoyable place to work that will do a lot to attract younger people. Work should not just be a place where you park yourself until it is time to go home; instead, it should be a place that is inviting and interesting for employees to come in and work. Making a work environment that encourages people to come in and work together is tied closely to culture. If you have a culture that encourages people to do their best and have a work environment that makes people want to come in and be part of the team, then you have created a place where people want to be and want to make successful.
- Career path. Younger people like to know that there is a path to career progression. Hiring younger people for junior positions is fine if you also communicate that there is a path to a career in the organisation. I’ve outlined how culture and environment are key to attracting new hires; and, the way to keep those new hires engaged and excited is a clear understanding of what opportunities lie ahead for those hires. Without a clear understanding of what opportunities are available with time and experience you run the risk of losing good members of the team who may feel that the only way they can grow their careers is by leaving. Showing people that there are options for career development, and a philosophy of promoting from within will go a long way to attract and keep young people.
- The final area is total compensation. There is so much more to a compensation package than the paycheck. Does your company offer continuing education? Flexible work hours? Have an annual picnic? A company band? Promote whatever your company does that is interesting and potentially different. Good candidates will always get contacted by other companies wanting to hire them away. The best way to keep your good employees is by focusing on all the benefits (culture, environment and career path are part of this) and suddenly a small bump in pay from a competitor is likely not going to be enough to lure a good employee away. Young hires obviously want to make money like the rest of us; but, the work environment and the feeling of being a part of a team will win over a bit more money each pay period.
There is so much young people can offer. Make your work environment a place they would like to be and you will have a win-win scenario.