Building strong pipelines may start with high school recruiting

Forward-thinking recruiters look to today’s youth to solve tomorrow’s skills shortages

Employers face serious skill shortages in several industries including health care, construction, science and technology careers. In 2015, the U.S. Labor Dept. pointed to "a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade.”

Other studies point to the prevalence of college grads pursuing careers other than those for which they earned degrees, including those students displaced by the mid-2000s economic downturn. So what approach do recruiters take when they face skill shortages? Some begin by reaching out to young people much sooner.

The growing skills shortage can be solved now

A recent report from RainmakerThinking, Inc. a management research and training firm, highlights that employers are continually struggling with rapid changes in the makeup of the workforce, fueled by technology and constrained resources.

Rainmaker describes the workplace of the future as, “lean, high-performing and incredibly flexible.” Baby Boomers are moving out of the workforce, leaving opportunities for Generation Y and Z to take on higher levels of responsibility but taking necessary skills with them. Meanwhile, millennials have largely embraced job-hopping, decreasing organizational retention across industries.

More high school students can fill future jobs

A growing number of high school students are participating in summer jobs and internships to prepare themselves for future career opportunities. In turn, recruiters are creating relationships with these students long before they head to college.

A recent HR Dive report noted that many young people are opting for careers that don’t require a college degree. Others are fast-tracking into high demand jobs by taking certification programs.

SHRM shares further insight into this growing trend. Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, told SHRM that, “In today's economy, students have to start building their careers in high school in order to better compete in the college admissions process, for college internships and eventually full-time jobs." He added, “Employers who offer high school internships [also] build brand awareness early, fill up their talent pipelines and [are] able to remain competitive in their marketplace.”

A 2014 survey conducted by Millennial Branding and Internships.com indicated:

  • 90% of employers said that high school internships help students get into better colleges.
  • 89% said students have a competitive advantage when looking for college internships and later, jobs.
  • 83% mentioned that internships yield better paying jobs in the future.
  • 60% of employers said that students need to focus on their careers in high school.

Even job boards are supporting the recruitment of high schoolers

In the last few years, there has been an increase in job boards designed specifically to attract high school students, such as Snagajob, Localwise and Groovejob. But now, even larger job boards and aggregates include jobs for high school students in their search function.

While many of these jobs are hosted by high schools themselves, temporary staffing agencies and large companies also develop such programs. General Electric, for example, created a program for Boston-area students looking to working in STEM fields.

How recruiters can tap into the high school talent market

Recruiters are smart to start approaching high schools with future career opportunities working in partnership with companies that need specialized skills in any of the STEM career paths. Hands-on training that takes place within real work environments can support the development of strong skills in young people.

This experience can also help students to identify their intended career paths earlier in life, a process that can be confusing while trying to hold down college classes.

Recruiters can use assessments to screen high-performing high school students who present for jobs, and once they are approved for an internship with a local company, they can complete their high school diploma and earn college credits while gaining valuable real-world knowledge.

This can be an effective way for older generations of employees to transfer their knowledge down to the next generation and influence the future of work. 

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Filed Under: Recruiting