Why investing in students is critical to the future of environmental consulting
TRACE Directors Andrew & Tony have long observed the lack of opportunities within the industry for young people to get a start. Graduate programs with large organisations are extremely competitive with often hundreds of applicants applying for only a few roles. Internships & graduate roles are hard to come by, with the pace of work in the consulting world demanding skilled & experienced workers to complete tasks NOW.
This led TRACE to recently establish our own undergraduate/graduate intern program to engage & support the next generation of workers within our industry.
But why take on students & grads, when they do not bring with them experience from the field?
The benefit is two-fold in that you help them to establish themselves in the industry while training them in your own best-practice processes. Too often do experienced employees bring with them old habits, or cultural nuances from their old organisation/s that may not align with your values or way of doing things. While the need to train graduates brings with it an investment of time and often money, it also brings an opportunity…to shape the worker into a perfect cultural fit for your team, helping to maintain the standard of work that your clients are used to. Of course, there is also the benefit of fresh ideas and perspectives from trainees and the importance of building capabilities in the future workforce. It also gives them the opportunity to get their hands dirty, applying the fresh knowledge they have learned in their studies to real-world situations.
Deloitte’s 2019 Report “The path to prosperity – why the future of work is human”, recommends that businesses embrace, and invest in, on-the-job learning and skills enhancement. Lead author David Rumbens comments that the Australia needs an improved approach to on-the-job learning –
“The future of work will be a combination of learning and work integrated into one…By making workers smarter and better suited to the jobs of the future, and improving the match between what businesses need and what workers have, we will make our workplaces happier and more productive.”
While lacking in on-the-job experience, graduates do bring with them integral skills & attributes that are especially needed in today’s way-of-working. In their guide to help identify future skills & training, The Australian Industry & Skills Committee comments on changing work & career values –
“In the next ten years, people from Generations Y and Z will account for more than 60% of the workforce. Members of these generations are generally adaptive, open to opportunities, and responsive to innovation. They tend to value workplaces that offer learning opportunities, collaboration, work-life balance and flexibility.”
In the increasingly fast-paced & constantly shifting work environment, it is important to harness the attributes of these generations. The report goes on to comment,
“Businesses are seeking the ability to adapt rapidly to new market conditions. To achieve this, they need employees who are prepared and able to take initiative, and adapt and learn quickly.”
TRACE has found this to be the case in the students we have taken under our wing. Founding Director, Andrew Kita has noted that their enthusiasm and willingness to learn has meant they have come up to speed with what we do extremely quickly and are already contributing to key client programs.
"We have already started to see the benefit of our program, even in its infancy"
Of course, diversity is key, and taking on graduates does not negate the need to hire experienced Senior staff. But if we do not take time to invest in our young people, in years to come, experienced senior staff will be few and far between.
Putting a focus on hiring graduates in addition to well-experienced staff, ensures that our industry will thrive in the future with workers who have not only a technical understanding from their years of study, but quality real-life experience that cannot be taught in a classroom.