A better path from college to work?

The workforce is constantly changing.  Old guard are retiring and new recruits are joining from high-school and college.  The latest set of business recruits are classified “GenY”.  Due to the technology they grew up with, they are quite different even from those who entered the workforce just a decade earlier (GenX).

GenYers seek variety and meaning in their work.  The want significant responsibility sooner rather than later.  Business culture today includes starting at the bottom, doing the grunt work, and working your way up as fast as you can.

I see many posts about how to “deal with GenY”.  However, very few organizations are actually changing their DNA very much.  Chief Learning Officers are perhaps the exception.  The GenY newbies are one of their biggest target markets so you would expect change there.  But, what about organizational structures?  Job rotations?  Performance reviews?  Etc… 

I expect that companies focused on Future Business will begin creating strong apprenticeship programs for their strongest recruits.  The best people will not take a classic start-at-the-bottom grunt job.  It will be interesting to see how programs are structured.  Hopefully, they are more than extended orientations.

Seth Godin is one of the premier business thinkers right now and, true to form, he is shaking things up a bit with his latest offer: a 6 month apprenticeship. 

Each day would roughly be structured as

  • 1 hour of classroom/group discussion style learning
  • 4 hours of working for Seth doing whatever he needs
  • 3 hours of working on your own projects

The catch: no pay.  He will not pay you and you will not have to pay him.  He guarantees it will change your life and I have no doubt he is right. 

There are two ways to look at this

  1. Why should I give my time for free?  If you add the time up at a conservative $20/hr, that is $10,000 worth of free work.  Note: the people that he is likely to select for the program might be much closer to or above  $100/hr
  2. How much would I have to pay to learn as much anywhere else?  Probably $20,000.   Or, for that matter, is it even possible to learn what you could from Seth in an MBA program or elsewhere?

Even if we use the higher $100/hr, the age-old MBA value calculation comes into play.  Namely, how much more will I be able to earn going forward because of the experience?  The $50K in lost earning might get paid off quickly.

So, now “Free” sounds pretty fair.  I expect that he will receive triple digit applications for the program.

We started in this country with an apprentice culture.  I remember reading Johnny Tremain when I was a kid.  Johnny was a silversmith apprentice in the 1700’s.  How/why did we get away from that?

What do you think?  Will Future Business include a different entry point for early employees?  It will certainly cost businesses money to come up with and execute these types of program, but I believe they will enable Future Businesses to attract better candidates and pay lower starting salaries.


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