Thought for the day: Give youth a chance

Companies are turning their backs on younger people because they have the skills but not the experience. Omar Sharif says there...

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Companies are turning their backs on younger people because they have the skills but not the experience. Omar Sharif says there is a way to make this section of the IT workforce more employable.


In today's global economy, quality personnel are harder to find, attract and keep satisfied. The slowdown in the economy is often a reason why human resources budgets are cut, as chief executives attempt to practise accounting prudence. Training budgets are slashed, recruitment programmes are put on hold and, wherever possible, redundancies are made.

For fresh young or inexperienced graduates seeking a career change, this spells disaster, as they soon find themselves in the loop where experience and skills are the two key factors that are needed to find a suitable job.

Skills can be attained by attending various training courses, but career-starters often find opportunities not open to them because they do not have the practical experience.

Industry spends too much time complaining that it is not able to recruit suitable staff. I often wonder what could be the reasoning behind the experience requirements of some job adverts: two years' experience required for a junior role begs the question as to why anyone with two years' experience would apply for a junior, rather than a more experienced post.

On behalf of an international 3G company, I have this year initiated a unique training programme in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University for technology students who have recently completed the SAP MSc programme.

It consists of an intensive one-week SAP training programme, after which students are expected to provide SAP end-user support for a further three weeks. They are unpaid, but they learn valuable skills and gain experience at the same time.

The organisation then has the first choice of what may well be the best SAP students in the country. This initiative counters the impact of not being able to bring fresh blood into the organisation for lack of budget, and will enable the business to respond more effectively when the economy picks up.

Such programmes are the solution in times of economic hardship, as opposed to the idea of hiring non-graduates based on cost. We can only reap the rewards of our investment.

What do you think?

Would you be more willing to employ a younger person who's gained their experience on such a programme? Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Omar Sharif is a certified SAP consultant at Mobisphere

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