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Why Paid Internships Matter: Cultivating Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

By February 17, 2015Uncategorized

The recent global recession threw the economy a curveball, which forced companies to significantly reduce their personnel. Now, with the Baby Boomers beginning to exit the workforce en masse, a labour crisis is fast approaching and Canadian businesses must compete with emerging global markets to attract, recruit, and retain the talent needed for socio-economic sustainability well into the future.

In the TED Talk, “The workforce crisis of 2030 — and how to start solving it now,” Rainer Strack, of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), highlights this projected labour shortage in Canada, and in the world’s 15 largest economies, over the next 15 years.

Original Source: TED – “The workforce crisis of 2030 — and how to start solving it now”

As seen in Strack’s TED Talk, there will be a 3% labour surplus in Canada, where supply and demand are relatively balanced, in 2020. However, the labour market is expected to fall dramatically in 2030 leaving Canada with more jobs than workers, unless immigration rates increase significantly.

labour shortage graph

“We will face a global workforce crisis, which consists of an overall labour shortage, plus a huge skill mismatch, plus a big cultural challenge,” Strack says, “Every company, but also every country, needs a people strategy, and to act on it immediately.”

Strack makes it undeniably clear that securing a talent pipeline now is critical, before the talent well runs dry. To do so, government and businesses must create opportunities for educated and eager new graduates – including those with disabilities – and newcomers to Canada to gain the experience they need to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Coincidentally, BCG – where Strack works as a Senior Partner and Managing Director – was among the leading organizations that founded Career Edge in 1996. Business leaders at BCG and Career Edge’s other founding organizations predicted this critical labour shortage that was simultaneously coupled with soaring rates of youth unemployment. These companies recognized the need for a solution that would address both issues, and created Career Edge and its paid internship program as a way to help Canada’s youth connect with employers, while progressively tackling future workforce demands.

Since its beginnings, Career Edge has successfully connected organizations with the talent they need to grow, through paid internships. Nearly 12,000 internships later, we know that the paid internship model works and here’s why:

  1. Coaching and mentoring: These are fundamental elements of Career Edge’s internship programs. Coaches are paired with interns to help them navigate their role, while ensuring they have the information and resources required to meet business objectives.
  2. Knowledge transfer: Internships offer an ideal context for retiring professionals to share their experience with those who can continue to carry the torch.
  3. On-the-job learning: Internships give recent graduates – as well as those who are new to Canada’s workforce – the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skill sets to tangible business projects. Furthermore, interns are able to strengthen soft skills, such as professional communication and teamwork in a real workplace setting.
  4. Professional networking: Internships are a great way for interns to meet professionals already working in their field of expertise. And when who you know is almost as important as what you know, networking is a skill that future leaders need to develop early in their careers.

With these four elements combined, interns are effectively groomed as productive and successful workers who will drive companies’ business goals and objectives throughout their professional lives.

With looming labour shortages, it is imperative that businesses establish a people strategy that includes interns, in order to begin cultivating future leaders. If we do not invest in the business leaders of tomorrow today, Canada’s socio-economic sustainability will be at risk, in 2030 and beyond.

Ready to launch the career of a future leader? Post an internship today.

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