The Vanishing Entry-Level Jobs: Navigating the Increasing Demands of the Job Market
I recently listened to a podcast by PWC about how companies should take more responsibility in ensuring that employees can acquire the skills they'll need shortly after starting their careers. Future achievers are required to be multitalented, able to fluently switch from one task to another, be innovative, and think deeply. Organizations that invest in future-focused skills become talent magnets.
Important, current skills, such as analytical and digital capabilities as well as mindset and resilience aren’t taught in universities. People starting their careers have to figure out how to acquire these skills itself. At the same time, almost every company is trying to differentiate themselves and create something new. In addition, the nature of the problems companies face, and which they are trying to solve have changed. Their strategy is to do things that others aren’t doing, but for this they’ll need employees to execute it. Companies have to train the employees on their costs. Yet they are increasing the number of required skills for an internship. An article on BBC even describes that entry-level jobs have literally disappeared, as 35% of postings for "entry-level" positions ask for years of prior relevant work experience, according to LinkedIn. The private sector should be involved in developing the skills needed for the jobs they create.
I also see this as a problem and have noticed it in the difficulty of job hunting. When applying for the first proper jobs, the expectations can feel overwhelming. The truth is, if one cannot develop in a workplace, then when can they? Education provides a general foundation from which one can then start to touch and examine the studied subjects concretely. For example, summer jobs are expected to be the first milestones on one's career path. People start applying for jobs months in advance, and the pressure to find work is high. The initial positions set the tone for employees' careers, so they are very important.
What makes job hunting so difficult is the ever-growing competition. Competition exists both between companies and among employees. Although theoretically all employees are in the same situation, there is inequality. Some individuals may not be able to afford to work for free or accept a low-paid internship, for instance. Additionally, they might lack important connections that can greatly aid them during the application process.
When there is fierce competition for job positions, there can be hundreds of applicants for a single position. In such cases, companies can select the most experienced applicant. Enthusiastic and motivated applicants with less experience are left in the background. Grades and GPAs also play a significant role in getting a job, but their relevance has slightly diminished within the past years. What’s in the paper doesn’t always tell the truth about the applicant’s true capability.
The problem is significant and recognized, but it is difficult to come up with a solution. If more investment were made in the job application process, for example, by conducting thorough face-to-face interviews and giving job seekers a better chance to showcase their personality and motivation for that specific job and company, the best candidate might be someone other than the most experienced one. However, lengthy recruitment processes consume a lot of time and resources for companies.
It has become a trend for employees to apply for multiple trainee positions to enhance their resumes. Since employers value diverse experience, individuals want to ensure the development of their careers by accumulating as much work experience, job titles, and employer names as possible on their resumes.
Perhaps the perception of jobs could be changed so that employees can also grow within their current workplaces. If the best applicants could find a good job match for themselves, they could develop their skills in that role, leaving more trainee positions for less experienced applicants. Employers could ensure that employees grow within the company, preparing them for their next roles and allowing them to engage in meaningful projects, thus increasing their responsibilities. Both the employees and the company would benefit from this. At the same time, it would save internship positions for new applicants who desperately need them to start their own career paths.
I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to enter my field's first internships. I have been given a lot of responsibility and trust, regardless of my lack of extensive experience. As a digital marketing specialist at Talbit, I have had the chance to learn, develop, and participate in highly interesting projects. We have also created a growth plan for me, with an eye on the next potential role and strategizing which specific skills would be most beneficial for me to acquire. This has given me confidence and prepared me for even more challenging and responsible positions in the future. I believe every company should invest more effort in this, as initial roles are crucial for young employees for multiple reasons. If employers show trust and provide employees with a solid platform to develop their talents, the sky is the limit for their potential accomplishments. This approach could also help alleviate the issue of an oversupply of job seekers for internships, as employees would not feel the urgent need to apply for new internships.
There have also been paid programs where employees receive intensive training, and after acquiring the learned skills, they are guaranteed a position within the company or its partner company. The employee is promised to find a job that is a perfect fit for them, which could be the first step in their career. Of course, this model does not work everywhere and requires significant resources. However, it demonstrates that by considering the employee's level of expertise and motivation, and by combining the employee with a task that genuinely interests them, both the company and the employee can benefit greatly. Additionally, the outcome can be much more sustainable when the employee genuinely enjoys and finds satisfaction in their work. The employer, in turn, can be nothing but pleased with an employee who demonstrates excellent motivation and a desire to further develop in their role.
There is no single correct answer to the problem. The job market operates like a game, where competition is fierce and the desire to succeed even greater. By inventing more ways to help young people learn the necessary skills for the workplace, we could be closer to a more efficient and fairer job search. Talbit provides one great way to achieve this by offering visibility into the specific skills you should have to perform a specific role, along with the necessary content and actions to support your talent growth, bit by bit.