Small businesses in Canada urged not to ‘overlook’ recent graduates
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Small businesses in Canada urged not to ‘overlook’ recent graduates

Small businesses in Canada urged not to ‘overlook’ recent graduates

As graduation season approaches, thousands of students in Canada prepare to leave university behind and enter the world of work, providing the opportunity for Canadian leaders of industry and small business owners to cash in on the recent pool of highly-skilled, qualified graduates.

“Many small business owners shy away from hiring recent graduates because of their perceived lack of experience,” writes Scott Stirrett for The Globe and Mail. “The reasoning goes that recent graduates lack the professional skills to thrive in the workplace, and that they require too much investment to train.”

Stirrett points out that too many small businesses in Canada do themselves a disservice by listing postings with a requirement of two to three years’ relevant work experience, instantly ruling out the new graduate demographic. Such requirements exclude even the most qualified students, thus “weakening the pool of accessible talent” and therefore potential growth of the business itself.

But according to Bill Taylor, former editor of the Harvard Business Review, the key to successful business recruitment is to ‘hire for attitude and train for skill’; a strong business leader should take note that skills are flexible and can essentially be taught, whereas character is ingrained and therefore far more static.

“[Business owners] believe that one of the biggest challenges they face is to fill their ranks with executives and front-line employees whose personal values are in sync with the values that make the organization tick,” Taylor notes. “As a result, they believe that character counts for more than credentials.”

According to Universities Canada, there were 1.7 million students enrolled at Canadian universities throughout academic year 2014-15; 979,000 on a full-time basis, and 312,000 part-time. 

Between June 2008 and June 2015, there were approximately twice as many new jobs created for university graduates than for college and trades graduates combined, according to the same report.

The report also notes that universities are significant drivers of Canada’s economic prosperity, as a $35 billion enterprise in expenditures. According to Universities Canada, the institutions themselves provide employment for 250,000 people.

The belief of many successful entrepreneurs, such as Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, is that it is in the company’s best interest to build a workforce of individuals at different stages of their lives. He notes that diversity among employees is key to creating an innovative business, and innovation, in turn, leads to greater success. By ostracizing Canada’s recent graduates, the region’s small businesses cut themselves off from a crucial range of alternative perspectives.

“There is no better time than today for small businesses to hire recent graduates, who remain an untapped source of considerable talent. By harnessing this impressive and renewable Canadian resource, small businesses can power their growth and take their firms to the next level,” Stirrett concludes.

Image via Shutterstock.

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