Tech Insights: How Technology Can Help Internships, Youth Employment

It’s a great tragedy that so many young people graduate from post-secondary education with no on-ramp to a career.

Many young people study law, teaching or medicine not because it is their calling but because those are the only programs with a clear line of sight to a job.

I’m wondering if HR Tech companies can help.

Why “microinternships” are an interesting option

Some HR technology companies, like Kronos, have excellent internship programs and this is a great way for youth to learn about the incredible variety of jobs in the business world. However, in a study I did for Recruit’s Work Institute, I was struck by how few good internships were on offer in North America; certainly far fewer than needed to on-ramp a significant number of graduates.

At last fall’s HR Tech conference in Las Vegas, I was really taken with Tony Meyer’s new company Testtracks which creates a platform for “micro internships.”

A microinternship is a project or task, not a full-time job. It addresses the problem many companies have of not being able to organize a full-time internship experience — but do have bits of real work an intern could do.

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The Testtracks platform lets companies farm out one-off small tasks, like doing some analysis, to an intern without having to take them on full-time. Doing 50 or 60 hours of microinternship for a company is not as immersive experience as a traditional internship, but it’s better than working as a barista. If you string together a series of microinternships it could be an enriching way to spend the summer.

Another HR technology that intrigues me are the simulations used for assessing job candidates such as Shaker Consulting Groups Virtual Job Tryouts and HRAvatar. I imagine if students had access to a library of these simulations it would open their eyes to fresh career opportunities—and give them a sense of what they need to know to succeed in the job.

It seems to me there is a desperate need for tools to provide an on-ramp that helps students enter the business world. Perhaps someone out there will invent them (and make a lot of money doing so).

What’s interesting?

  • HR tech knows all about jobs and people. It works hard at using that knowledge to help companies recruit, but surely there is an opportunity to use that knowledge to help graduates enter the world of work.

What’s really important?

  • There is a terrible waste of talent — and a terribly depressing experience — in how young graduates are dumped out of educational institutions with limited ability to enter the marvelous and multifaceted world of business. It’s a problem that needs fixing.

David Creelman is CEO of Creelman Research. Based mainly in Toronto and partly in Kuala Lumpur, he’s best known for his research on the latest issues in human resources.

He works with think tanks such as Talent Tech Labs (New York), Works Institute (Tokyo), Workforce Institute (Boston) and CRF (London). He’s collaborated with leading academics such as Henry Mintzberg (leadership development), Ed Lawler (“Built to Change”) and John Boudreau (future of work).

His books include The CMO of People: Manage employees like customers with an immersive predictable experience that drives productivity and performance with GrandRound’s CHRO Peter Navin; and Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau (USC) and Ravin Jesuthasan (Willis Towers Watson).

You can connect to Mr. Creelman on LinkedIn