Graduating from university is no longer all you need to get by in today’s competitive job market. As graduate unemployment rates sky rocket, internships have become an invaluable asset to any resumé.
A recent survey published by Millennial Branding shows that 91% of employers expect students to have completed at least two internships before they graduate, and are unlikely to hire students who haven’t.
Yet with 50% of those organisations having not hired an intern in over six months and the majority of internships being unpaid positions, the less well off are under pressure to struggle to sustain themselves through an internship.
Ernesto Santalla of Studio Santalla, an architect firm in Georgetown, U.S.A, believes both students and employers play an invaluable role in work place education and told Metro Weekly: “In mentoring them, I help them develop their unique talents, which in turn, becomes their contribution to the overall work product – a win-win situation.”
In the UK Government initiatives such as the 16 to 19 Bursary, student loans and the National Apprenticeship Service all exist to encourage young students into further education on both academic and skills based levels. The since dropped Education Maintenance Allowance (now in a much reduced form as the 16 to 19 Bursary) helped increase the number of students continuing education post seventeen from 54% to 61% and increased the average A-level results by four points. This subsidy program encouraged students to stay in full time education and go on to progress to university.
Yet as the number of degree programs on offer worldwide grows in size and range – with courses such as David Beckham studies and Golf Management being offered in UK institutes – the “value” of the degree has decreased.
Internships are now vital for any serious graduate looking to progress in their chosen field. As Dan Schawbel of the Metro said, “without internship experience, you’re seen as a risk to companies that are looking to hire graduates that have already put their education to use.”
A serious case can therefore be argued for funding currently designated to encourage students into further education to be redirected towards subsidising internships and apprenticeships with an emphasis on the economic progression needed in a post recession economy. With the rising East’s increasing demand for Western built machinery and other speciality exports (vital for sustainable growth), educating the next generation of professionals must shift in focus toward catering for this demand in western specialised business.
Therefore apprenticeships, internships and the mechanisms in place to subsidise them must be expanded and reorganised in order for this to occur. As UK University tuition fees increase to £9000 and graduate unemployment rises, the appeal of university has decreased. Admissions to UK universities fell by 8.7% in 2012.
To take advantage of the changing nature of graduate life, the system of education in western countries must shift from predominantly academic study to encompass more programs in professional training.
In the UK the argument for subsidizing internships has begun to take precedence with the government-commissioned Review of Business-University Collaboration saying “undergraduates should be offered a ‘structured, university-approved’ internship to make them more employable and that universities should support undergraduates financially to take them up – rather than allowing them to be the privilege of the wealthy.”
In order for the modern education system to adapt to the changing nature of global demand and financial power, change must occur at the roots of education. As internships are increasingly being recognised as vital assets to a graduate’s education, it is time for the Governments both in the UK and other Western countries to invest in the future and support students as they gain quality work place education.