Employers Can Gain Nicely from 'Work-and-Learn' Projects

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

To help Halt 'Brain Drain,' Employers Can Reap Substantial Benefits by Hiring Talented People after ‘Work-and-Learn’ Projects

N-4transoCollage indicating that to thrive in a job, a person needs to build their skills.rthern Indiana employers could secure notable benefits from increasing “work-and-learn” opportunities to provide workplace experiences to students and workers, thus strengthening their con-fidence, skills and knowledge, said the Indiana Career Council.

“In order for Indiana’s economy to grow and thrive, it is imperative that qualified Hoosier talent is connected to meaningful employment within Indiana. Historically, Indiana has suffered from ‘brain drain’ the out- flow of highly skilled and educated individuals from Indiana to other parts of the country or world,” the council’s Pathways Task Force ob- served in a report.  “Work-and-learn opportunities can help to instill connections among employers and students or adult workers, thus increasing the chances these individuals will stay in Indiana,” added the report, “A Guide to Talent Attraction and Development for Indiana Employers; Leveraging Work-and-Learn Opportunities to Attract Qualified Hoosier Talent” (February 2015).

Benefits to Northern Indiana employers from increasing “work-and-learn” opportunities; provides workplace exper-iences to students and workers, thus strengthening their con- fidence, skills and knowledge, said Indiana Career Council.
Work-and-learn opportunities defined as experiences allowing students and workers to strengthen knowledge, skills through hands-on workplace experiences.
Research shows work-and-learn projects help reduce, even-tually, reverse the “brain drain” scenario irritating Indiana employers for years.
Each work-and-learn model needs dedicated time by the employer for engagement with students, training and su-pervision.

When an employer launches a process to hire a new college graduate, the costs can be significant.  For instance, during the 2011-’12 recruiting season, the average cost of recruiting a newly minted graduate was $5,134, based on employers responding to the National Association of Colleges and Employ- ers’ (NACE) 2012 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey. Moreover, the hiring tab typically rises even more as employers incur additional costs of training and bringing on-board a new hire, added NACE.

“The good news, though, is that work-and-learn models can help,” explained the council.  “By es-tablishing a pipeline of talent through work-and-learn models, employers can streamline recruiting costs as well as ensure that training is invested into new workers who have proven their skills and com- petencies.”

Work-and-learn opportunities, in a broad sense, are defined as experiences that allow both students and workers to acquire, refine and strengthen their knowledge and skills through hands-on, “real life” experiences in a workplace. Moreover, research has shown that work-and-learn projects go far in helping to reduce and, eventually, reverse the “brain drain” scenario that has plagued Indiana employers for years.

In 2012, Battelle Memorial Institute found that among students at in-state colleges who completed an Indiana intern-ship, 73 percent stayed in the Hoosier State for either employment or to continue their education; for in-state students who did not complete an internship, the comparative number for remaining in Indiana was 64 percent.


Collage that highlights notion of "Elevating Work & Learn in Indiana."What students share with employers,” Battelle said in the study, “is the importance of being engaged in experiential learning programs, such as internships, work study, capstone projects with industry, industry mentoring and job shadowing, among others, while undergraduates in Indiana. From results in “Indiana’s Com- petitive Economic Advantage:  The Opportunity to Win the Global Competition for College Educated Talent” (2012), researchers calibrated the likelihood of recent Indiana college graduates to be living in the Hoosier State “rises substantially when they participate in work experience activities.”

Even one work experience activity during college raises the like-lihood of an Indiana graduate residing within the state after grad- uation, increasing to 58 percent from 40 percent. As shown in the chart, the Indiana-residence likelihood of graduates skyrockets for individuals with at least two work-and-learn experiences while college students rising to 67 percent for two work-experience programs and to 75 percent for four work-and-learns.         

Significantly, benefits for employers using work-and-learn (W-&-L) models include building “a supply pipeline of emerging talent for a company’s future hiring needs,” the council main- tained.  Moreover, there are additional positives for adopters of work-and-learn programs on the benefits side of the ledge.  These W-&-L models, the council explained:

● Increase awareness about careers within an individual company or industry;
● Boost productivity on specific projects or ongoing tasks, or both;
● Decrease recruitment costs;
● Infuse new ideas and perspectives into a company’s work and culture; and
● Ensure individuals are equipped with the latest industry-specific skills and knowledge.

“Work-and-learn opportunities provide a ‘sneak peek’ into the individual’s knowledge, skills and work behaviors, signal- ing which may be strong candidates for full-time employment,” the report added.


As it happens, work-and-learn models such as internships have been proven as successful tools for companies in their talent-recruitment strategies.  For instance, 64.8 percent of interns were offered full-time jobs in 2014 with their companies, found the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). “That means nearly two in every three interns performed well enough in their short time with a company,” said the Indiana Career Council, “their employer decided to ask them to stay on full-time.”  Moreover, in a 2013 study, companies that hired their interns as full-time employees retained 88.9 percent after one year and 72.9 percent after five years, NACE said.

For Northern Indiana employers considering using work-and-learn projects, a vital aspect is clearly defining the objec- tives at hand.  The Indiana Career Council suggested such objective may include:

● Increasing awareness about careers within a company or industry;
● Establishing a Diverse team of three working harmoniously.supply pipeline of emerging talent for a company’s
future hiring needs;
● Increasing productivity on specific projects or ongoing tasks;
● Infusing new ideas and perspectives into an employer’s work-
place and culture; and
● Ensuring individuals are equipped with the latest industry-specific
skills and knowledge. 

Importantly, each work-and-learn model necessitates dedicated time by the employer for engagement with students, training and supervision. “Early in your process of selecting a work-and-learn model,” the council said in the report, “identify the staff in your organization who have the time, talents and interests in leading work-and-learn opportunities.  Depending on your objectives, this may be one person or a team of professionals.  It may be a humaJob Connections graphic.n resources profes- sional or your plant manager.  What is most important, though, is that adequate time is dedicated to work-and-learn opportunities that are meaningful to your organization and to participants.” 


With an employer’s objectives and capacity in mind, a company should select the work-and-learn model best suited for the organization.  There are various work-based learning models rang- ing from short-term externships to multi-year approaches. 


These typically are short-term in nature and focused on career exploration.  An externship could include one-day job shadowing experiences or staying with a company for up to a few weeks.


Interns work at a company for a limited time frame with goals of career exploration and workplace experience as well as skill development and networking.        


Co-ops provide occupational preparation principally via classroom education and work experience.


This model focuses on individualized, customized training at a job site aimed at increasing employee skills. 


At its core, this scenario links occupational study and workplace training with an examination often required to earn a necessary license or certificate.


In this instance, a person participates on a part-time basis in apprenticeship programs and engages in learning through school-based and workplace activities focused on career exploration as well as occupational and academic instruction.


For instance, an apprenticeship provides on-the-job training with accompanying study for a skilled trade; high-lights of this model include a national industry certification and wages increase along the way.  four-diamond-2