Informing workforce through HR
WHILE ATTENDING POST primary educational institutions you are exposed to a number of subject areas all of which you must explore theoretically, rarely, ever practically, prior to making the choice of which academic discipline and or career stream in which you will specialise.
However, at that age, students do not fully understand the implications of this choice, because they are not fully aware of what is required to enter most non-traditional careers, the dynamics of the labour market locally, regionally or internationally.
In reality, students are also blissfully unaware of the cost in deferred gratification, that is, how much it will cost your parents or guardians to fund your choice and the potential pay back for your personal and financial sacrifice.
However, at the tender age of 14 students in conjunction with the other stakeholders, make that sometimes life defining choice while your parents hope and pray for the best without even themselves being fully aware of the implications of this choice.
This is where human resources practitioners can contribute to the development of the community and the future workforce.
Students can first be taught how to effectively manage conflict and stress, all of which they will encounter in their lives in general and all of which reside in a permanent capacity, in the workplace. One of the interesting ways for students to learn more about themselves is through the personality testing.
Additionally, another way to prepare students for entry into the workforce is to give them a real work scenario, not the normal internship but an experience that is as close to a real employment experience as possible. In this instance they get to experience first-hand, from inception to completion, what it means to be an employee in their area of passion and or at least intense interest based on their personality test results and their own articulated interests in the role of apprentice rather than intern.
As an apprentice, they will be expected to learn and sharpen the skills and competencies required in order for them to excel in their chosen area of endeavour. Additionally, to ensure that they have acquired a level of expertise that is required to make them exceptional candidates for future potential employers.
To accomplish this, the apprentices should be tested on a weekly basis and given feedback on their performance so that they can continuously improve on their performance. This approach will ensure that they have no misconceptions of what is expected of them as an employee performing a particular role.
Of critical importance is that they will also be exposed to developing their soft skills such as improving the effectiveness of their interpersonal and communication skills. Also, they will learn how to deal with politics in the workplace and dealing with challenging. It is imperative that you as the manager to whom the apprentices report and the apprentices document your experiences week by week and gather the data to guide your overall approach to the development of your future workforce.
It is imperative that HR practitioners assist students to cultivate a healthy and productive approach to work through the building of positive characteristics such as a good work ethic, ability to effectively handle challenges in the form of people, policies, systems or some combination thereof that threatens to make their experience of work a less than positive and productive one.
Teach them that work and life in general can be somewhat of a struggle that can be successfully managed.
It is imperative that students learn how to manage themselves first and foremost. This requires discipline, dedication and commitment and fortitude plus the ability to laugh at themselves and most importantly, to manage failure in such away that they can get back up and go again in order to see things through to the end.
This will allow the apprentices and to an even larger extent, the labour force to carry out thorough due diligence, even before applying for any position being advertised by the company. This method, will be significantly reduce a large number of unfortunate matches that all the psychometric testing in the world, fails to identify prior engaging in the employment relationship.
Of course, there are those that will argue that, in the existing economy, where the demand for labour greatly exceeds the supply of labour, that potential candidates will still try to fit in because ultimately they need to be able to be able to survive and as such the unfortunate match is inevitable. My response to this contention is that at the very least, candidates will be allowed or enabled in making an informed decision before signing on the dotted line.
As the alternative to the applicants responsibility to carry effective due diligence when seeking employment, once one sees the development of the apprentice as an assets which needs to be prudently taken care of, it must be recognised that the employee must take the highest possible standard of care to ensure that the apprentices receive the highest level of training and development.
Geri-Ann Austin is an experienced human resources and employee relations professional. Email: [email protected]