This weekend, I reviewed the preliminary results from the recent Internship Survey as part of the Digital Skills Forum work to address the ongoing skills challenges we all face. With 500 responses the survey provides a statistically significant sample size which will allow the Digital Skills Forum members (NZTech, IT Professionals, NZRise, MBIE, DIA, Ministry of Education and TEC) to use it to develop real solutions.
In the past 12 months, only 175 of the responding firms hosted a paid intern. While this is good to see, the numbers are way too low. According to the Digital Skills Report, roughly 5000 university students graduate each year with a computer science or information technology degree. The industry is telling us that most graduates lack work readiness skills and that the skills shortage is mostly for staff with three to five years experience. Ideally, all students would experience internships to help accelerate their work readiness. However, this seems like a chicken and egg situation.
For those employing interns, 82% agree that interns do useful work, 69% agree the interns bring new ideas into the workplace, 78% say the interns inject energy into their organisation, and 96% say they gain satisfaction from supporting the next generation and giving back to the sector.
The main reason organisations are not taking on interns are a lack of resources to manage or support them, or a lack of suitable work for an intern. Most the organisations (87%) not taking interns still believe internships are a good idea. So it seems the main issue is the difficulty or perceived difficulty of supporting an intern.
While 42% of those engaging an intern have their own intern process, it can still be challenging to find and manage them. Summer of Tech is the premier intern placement program and last year, 3,687 students registered for their program, they prepared 987 in boot camps and placed 214 interns. So if ready made and fully supported interns are available, but not being taken up, what is the real problem?
Personally, I believe employers are being too risk adverse and most do not have the scale or experience to be able to develop an intern program that will help them successfully resolve their ongoing skills challenges. Additionally, the current solutions are too fragmented and the quality is variable. Fortunately, as we analyse the survey data we are on the way to solving this dilemma. Already the data is showing a few possible solutions to help streamline the flow of work ready students into high paying digital technology jobs.
This is not something the Government or industry can solve alone. Please consider what you may be able to do, to help encourage more kids into tech and help those about to graduate develop work ready skills.
Have a great week.