The Next Hire and College Graduate
Employment for rural workers in the U.S. has plummeted by almost 30% over the past decade. Frustrated employers are turning to a bright idea to attract the very workers that remain underutilized in rural areas: the college graduate.
Research shows that rural workers face a higher proportion of occupational shortages, while college graduates do better in acquiring competitive skills. As rural regions face the age and cost pressures of the urban workforce, employers are realizing that it makes sense to provide graduates with higher-quality training.
It is a question of understanding the entire vocational puzzle rather than trying to fix the graduate’s mental deficiencies.
By tapping into this sharp interest in the college sector, urban employers can help bridge the employment and training gap by helping graduates attain stable careers.
New Zealand was the first country to introduce this graduate-driven recruitment strategy. All graduates of the Auckland Institute of Technology are placed within three years of graduation into jobs for which they are qualified. Most graduates do not even need an interview and can start immediately.
Employers have already rejected suggestions that they need to retain some 20% of graduates. The rationale for this program is simple: money. From that point of view, these graduates work better; the university graduates have the critical intelligence and industry competence that any employer requires. It’s also cheaper.
In Western Australia, this trend is likely to hit the headwaters of the Great Southern Goldfields. The conventional model of mining recruits from the mining industry’s talent pool. For these retrenched employees, there is a shortage of senior talent and there is no shortage of skills for mining operations. In other words, there is no need to look abroad for new hires.
With the university’s math and engineering degrees being in high demand, this region is likely to respond by stocking the ranks of students with natural engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists.
Rural employers fear losing a good part of their turnover rates to the bevy of employers demanding candidates of good standing. It is especially problematic when they meet well-qualified employees with a higher-valued diploma or certificate, or higher-end college degrees, who come with a good working history in the rural sector.
These emerging future workers are held to higher standards than their under-utilized rural counterparts. In order to stay employed, they must demonstrate their abilities on a high-skills basis, and be able to provide working experience and provide leadership.
While this approach can potentially reach an overwhelming number of talent-seeking graduates, it needs to be developed and controlled to benefit all parties. It is not one size fits all, and it shouldn’t be used to solve labor shortages exclusively.
Industry and education are intimately intertwined. To succeed, employers must work with educators to develop a compelling narrative and motivate future workers. They should create a compelling narrative that is not one of low pay or low skill and that extends beyond a job title, but rather defines a working career.
The answer to rural employment challenges lies in mining itself. Underneath a global commodity glut and price plunge, mining remains an attractive career for STEM graduates. The fact that miners make more than the top 20% of wages in the U.S. emphasizes this fact.
Employers in rural regions must tap into this tradition, not just to promote a simple new approach, but to find new ways to keep locals employed.