Tapping a New Breed of Talent

Summertime… the time of year teens love and parents dread.  While teens rejoice that they survived another year of tests, homework, and grades, parents scramble to figure out what to do with their teen for the next 8 weeks to keep them active and engaged.  Sure, they can do the traditional babysitting, lifeguarding, etc., but some companies are challenging high school teens to do more by joining company internships historically reserved for college students.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, companies are seeking to capitalize on the Gen Z mentality that they “are willing to start at the bottom and work their way to the top”, a vast contrast from the previous generation who tends to be labeled as the “everyone gets a trophy” generation.  While there is still much to learn about this latest generation, David Stillman, who co-authored Gen Z @ Work with his son, has research that suggests the Gen Z views on employment and company loyalty may mirror those similar to earlier generations who tended to stay with companies for much of their career, as long as the opportunity was there.

If true, this would be a welcome relief and change for organizations who today still face a high number of employees seeking to make a job change.  According to recent research published by ADP, 63% of an employer’s total workforce is potentially seeking a new opportunity either actively or passively and, with a job market already struggling to find quality talent to fill critical openings, this number can be detrimental to a company’s ability to meet company goals and business objectives.

“We have consciously set down a path to start reaching a much younger audience to encourage them and make them aware of a career…” – Greg Muccio, Southwest Airlines

By creating internships tailored to high school juniors and seniors, companies are hoping they will gain an early influence on students that could help shape their college degree choice and potentially lead them to a career with the company once they have achieved their academic requirements.   It will also help companies fill some critical skill gaps in their organization with talent who has already been exposed to the work environment and has a vested interest in their own success, as well as the success of the company.