Trent Mankelow says New Zealand companies and organisations hired 352 interns last summer. That’s not many when you consider more than 2000 students applied for positions. Applying takes a fair amount of effort, so there are many disappointed students.
While the business of taking on interns can be open to abuse, it’s an essential part of any programme to match companies and organisations with potential employment candidates.
Mankelow runs Summer of Tech, a programme that aims to find internships for students. It is clear that not enough New Zealand companies are using tech interns.
In his post at the NZ Rise website, Mankelow looks at the reasons employers gave choose to take on interns.
Now there’s a problem right there. When customers choose not to buy something they often offer plausible sounding reasons without revealing the thinking behind their decisions.
It’s stretching credibility to think prospective employers don’t do the same when choosing not to hire interns.
So what they tell Mankelow may not be the real reasons companies choose not to take on young employees for a summer-long test drive.
Not all the reasons are good. What none of them are going to admit is that they are shortsighted, lazy or cheapskate to take part. Some are free riders. They’ll cynically let other companies take the interns they may hope to hire later.
Not a good look
Even if you take the reasons given to Mankelow at face value, they don’t always look good. Take the idea that interns cost too much. According to Mankelow a typical intern costs less than $10,000 in wages. Companies are able to get government grants through Callaghan Innovation for almost that amount if they hire students for research and development projects.
In other words you can get someone with tech skills, even if those skills are still unpolished, at a bargain price. Perhaps $1500 net cost after the grant.
It stretches credibility to suggest a manager can't get that much value from an intern over a summer. In tech, one good idea well executed can be worth far more than $10,000, let along $1500 or so. Bosses would normally kill for that kind of return on investment.
Which brings us to this year. Sure, the economy is likely to be in a down cycle. But unless circumstances change fast, companies with skilled vacancies to fill are not going to be able to recruit ready-made employees from overseas. This would be a good time to bring in capable young minds to power through any work backlog and line up potential employees for a year or so later.
So, if you are reading this and you run a business, you’ve got about three or four months to come up with a worthwhile summer research and development project.