So, what are the benefits of investing in a more age-diverse talent pool including professionals that might have fewer years of experience than what might be expected for a particular role? In such a candidate-short and competitive market, professionals with fewer years of experience are often easier to mould, tend to be more flexible, and have a unique openness to change. These candidates are the future leaders of your teams or business, so should be sought after and developed. Younger candidates tend to also be more loyal to employers that hired and invested resources towards training them.    

Investing in an age, skills and experience-diverse work force is extremely important especially in engineering and technical spaces. This mix helps with problem-solving, but more importantly, according to Jaco Bester, Managing Consultant – Mining and Engineering, Michael Page South Africa “when professionals interact with their colleagues with different backgrounds, mindsets and know-how, they will become more adept at dealing and/or responding to their customer/client base, diverse in and of itself. This speaks to Stephen Covey’s idea of ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’ which he presents in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”   

The benefits of hiring a more diverse workforce 

The advantages lie within a candidate’s potential, as hiring managers can shape a candidate’s needs and align them with any skills gaps the business may have now or in the future. Candidates at the more junior level usually want to diversify their learning so that they get exposed to a variety of career paths before specializing.  

The main hindrance you may see when hiring people with fewer years of experience will be managing their expectations. There is more information available to candidates today, and many feel like their careers should escalate rapidly. Success takes time, and it is important for candidates to recognise when they have the right experience to move on, or up within a business.  

In Jaco’s experience recruiting Engineering and Mining talent in South Africa and Sub Sahara Africa, hiring young talent into the workforce can mean “injecting your business with innovation, creating a more sociable environment and contributing to the overall culture of the business”. 

Tell Palmer, Consultant – Engineering, Michael Page Africa adds, “hiring a diverse workforce also negates the chances of ‘like-for-like’ hiring arising from subconscious bias.” 

Have a comprehensive D&I programme 

Having a comprehensive diversity and inclusion programme will show candidates that the business is dedicated to creating a working environment that is open to different people, values, and skill sets. Organisations will benefit from having a diverse workforce that is more productive and decisive, as this creates a broader viewpoint, and allows businesses to think differently from their competitors.  

Jaco says, “South Africa is a very diverse country; with 11 different official languages, diversity is an extremely important aspect for all business as they integrate with society and attempt to positively influence the communities they operate in and South Africa as a whole.” 

Attracting and hiring new graduates 

It is good to consider candidates that have recently graduated from university. Newly graduated professionals looking for work on the market are the perfect candidates to attempt to attract and hire to your business. These individuals are passionate, they know about the industry and are desperate to get a job in their field as soon as possible upon graduating.  

“These candidates are also keen to prove themselves and are willing to put in the hours and hard work in order to establish themselves in the industry - this is especially true in South Africa where the level of unemployment level is so high”, shares Jaco.  

The large, established engineering businesses aren’t struggling to attract new graduates, but many great SME organisations are. New graduates emerge from education and believe that joining a large engineering firm’s graduate scheme is the only option to have a successful career, without knowing or understanding how many businesses are available to them.  

Advising young graduates, Tell shares, “In many cases, it would be more beneficial for graduates to seek job opportunities with SMEs as small business environments can offer the chance to foster stronger relationships with the Line Manager and there are more opportunities for young graduates to create a stronger business impact with their work.” 

The job itself and the remuneration needs to be aligned to ensure that talent stays with the business for a long time. Very often, companies are looking to hire interns and graduates if they have a minimum of three years of prior work experience. Besides, there is a lot of work to be done at the university level on making students aware about working in the industry as well as connecting them to job opportunities.    

Improving your recruitment processes and offering work experience and internships 

The industry and universities must foster a deeper connect for the benefit of the job market. With many candidates in South Africa, for example, still not having the resources to access information about the sector and job opportunities, universities and organisations must work together to make that information accessible to students and graduates. Industry open days and career days have been effective in piquing the interest of potential top talent that is soon finishing their studies. However, there is still a long way to go. Businesses should be proactively joining in on these days and networking with the students making available to them internship and graduate placement opportunities. This will boost your brand awareness and make you recognizable to potential candidates.  

“Given South Africa’s job market, internships are extremely important to give graduates that first step. Even if the internship does not realize into a permanent position, the experience can be leveraged off for other opportunities”, adds Jaco.  

If you are looking to hire top talent in today’s market, please get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants. At Michael Page, we have a wealth of experience in hiring for engineering and manufacturing roles, as well as access to a huge pool of candidates looking for the right next step in their career. 

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