PROCESS EXPO | Expert in Residence
“Who You Going to Call?”
Dave Krishock | Kansas State University
Borrowing a line from the 1984 supernatural comedy movie Ghostbusters, “Who you going to call?”………..when you need employees to fill openings on your production line, make sales tech calls or provide verifiable and marketable results from your R & D lab?
And just like the three eccentric parapsychologists involved in a startup ghost catching business in NYC, your company probably doesn’t have the luxury of just hoping the ideal candidate walks in the front door. In Ghostbusters, a fourth member of the paranormal search squad had to be hired to cope with increased demand for their services. The three original members/owners of the business were totally lost as to where to find an employee with applicable skills. Sound familiar?
Considering that the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that one out of every ten workers in the U.S. can retire this year or next and estimates are that we will need to feed over nine billion people worldwide by mid-century, all companies in the food/baking industries have a major challenge facing their overworked, understaffed HR departments.
Millennials (a.k.a. Echo Boomers, or Generation Y) with approximate numbers of 75.3 million, are projected to comprise over 36% of the workforce by the end of this year, according to the Pew Research Center. Say what you will about Millennials, their work habits, and personalities (and the web has been inundated with websites and articles about the characteristics that set the Generation Y apart from you and I), but they are not going away. They will be the majority of the labor pool for the next two decades and they will be the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history. What will set your company apart from your competitors as a “most sought after” company to work for?
A quality internship program. Period. A well thought-out, quantifiable, rewarding internship program that will expose college students (Millennials) to your company.
And just as in the old adage “first impressions mean everything,” an intern's three to six month experience with your company can be the deciding factor when said Millennial is considering which of several full-time employment opportunities to consider upon graduation.
I’ve been teaching/advising at Kansas State University in the Bakery Science program for eleven years, and during that time I’ve sent out over four hundred and fifty students to their first real-world job experience on summer or six-month internships. If this column was longer, I could share a multitude of stories from the returning interns about their experience with Company X, Y, or Z. Many of the interns have nothing but great things to say about their experience. On the other hand, each August, some return to campus to expound upon the less than stellar learning experience they had, primarily due to poor internship program management.
So from my academic pulpit and since I know that you can never find enough qualified entry level/mid-level employees for your company (without pilfering them from your competitors or other food companies), start up a well-defined internship program for summer 2017.
Contact us at Kansas State or a Food Science Department at a university close to your base of operations and inquire as to how to establish a meaningful internship program — meaningful for the prospective millennial employee and meaningful to meet your company’s labor shortfall in the coming years.
Dave Krishock [email protected]
Bakers National Education Professor
Dept. of Grain Science and Industry
Kansas State University