Hiring Students Is Not a Charitable Act

Mark Chapeski

November 18, 2018

By Mark Chapeskie

Contrary to popular belief, hiring students into companies today isn’t a charitable act. It’s a mutually beneficial one for students and the organizations they work for. In Canada, we are currently experiencing the lowest sustained unemployment numbers since before the 2008/9 recession at 5.9%. In the information and communications technology sector, unemployment is below 3%. To spell it out, this means that more and more organizations are competing for the same talent.

Smart companies have started recruiting directly from universities and colleges by developing relationships with their career services offices and coop offices. Some have also gone so far as to collaborate with these institutions of higher learning to develop core educational programs that respond specifically to their needs. Shopify recently announced a partnership with York University on a computer science degree program. Admittedly these are the outliers and are typically larger companies, but building a talent pipeline into the future doesn’t have to be so involved.

The students of today are the company builders, problem solvers, managers and technical leads of tomorrow. In fact, many organizations have capitalized on hiring students to solve problems that no current staff have the time to. RBC for example has hired groups of students into their Amplify program, which has led to new intellectual property developments culminating in multiple patents over several years of running the program.

Students who are hired on internship programs are statistically also more likely to come back and work for the company or organization that they interned with. For a first placement at a company, there is a 44% chance interns will convert to full-time on graduation. After a return placement, there is a 90% chance they convert to full-time. They are also statistically more likely to stay as full-time employees for the first five years of employment (retention rate of 54% versus 36%), making the investment in internship placements that much more financially sound.

Some will argue that hiring students is a massive time investment that just doesn’t pay off over the term of a four to six month placement. I would argue that individuals with this frame of mind aren’t thinking about the big picture. As noted above, students tend to return to the companies they have interned with. For returning interns, 90% of interns were offered a job full-time with their organization and 90% of them accepted. Furthermore, they tend to be retained far longer than those who didn’t intern before taking a full-time role.

Canada’s university and college system is turning out technically proficient, world-class graduates ready to tackle the problems we are facing today. Their biggest area of need is in professional skills development, and the good news is these skills, like most others, can be learned. Companies that invest time now can mould their future workforce while they are still students and before they become full-time or even part-time employees. It is equally an opportunity to try out an individual without a full-time contractual commitment.

With a stubbornly high unemployment rate pushing 15%, new graduates are also often available to work. Why not get them before they hit the job market and your organization is competing with everyone else?
I am proud to work for an organization that is partnering with industry and academia in the electricity sector in Canada on the Empowering Futures Program to place more students in more internships and cooperative education placements nation-wide. For more information: www.electricityhr.ca/empowering-futures

Mark Chapeskie is Director of Projects, Electricity Human Resources Canada.



NACE Survey results re: job offers 2015
NACE Survey results re: retention 2017
ICT Labour Force unemployment statistics
Canadian Unemployment statistics 
See RBC Amplify Program
See Shopify Computer Science Program partnership with York University 
“Generation Jobless”, CBC DocZone




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