Published Date: 05/12/2014
By Reneé Watkins
Over the next two decades there will be a significant percentage of American workers reaching retirement age and exiting the workforce. In order to plan for this and to create a steady stream of candidates flowing into the workplace, many companies are beginning to reach out to students at all levels – elementary, middle and high school.
That’s right! Companies are beginning to foster relationships with education programs well in advance of student graduation from either college or high school. Collaboration toward establishing internships, community outreach and career fairs is a part of their plan to have both impact and influence on preparing candidates at an early age for entry not only into the workforce, but into their specific industry vertical.
Organizations like Shell Oil and Caterpillar are seeking individuals who demonstrate an aptitude for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and working with educators to encourage and provide for those skills. In this way, these and other companies are driving the development of a pipeline of future talent. A new workforce will be necessary to replace the one that is currently aging out in very high numbers.
In addition to internships, some companies are also sponsoring two-year and four-year scholarships to universities offering a degree in fields specific to their industry. Shell, for example, has a scholarship program for students enrolling in Chemical Engineering. Caterpillar partners with universities on various research initiatives and recruits students from those programs. Motorola and Texas Instruments sponsor competitions in robotics development for students in order to identify candidates to target for their organizations.
On the whole, the US is far behind China and India in the number of STEM graduates produced and ready to enter the workforce. The days of recruiting “warm” candidates who are already seeking us out as a company are unfortunately over and have been for a while. In order to have a steady stream of available, skilled candidates at all times from which to recruit, we must work to create that candidate stream by deliberately guiding future generations of the workforce to our door very early in their education and continuing to nurture their interest in what we have to offer.