Getting a graduate foot in the HR door

I READ WITH interest Pauline Velkoska’s letter in issue 96 (24 January 2006) regarding getting valuable HR experience as a graduate

I READ WITH interest Pauline Velkoska’s letter in issue 96 (24 January 2006, p8) regarding getting valuable HR experience as a graduate.

The answer to your problem lies in establishing a win-win work experience program where graduates like yourself can spend time to build some experience while organisations receive value in offering their time. We have recently implemented such a program and currently have two unpaid work experience staff working within our HR division as HR officers. We established very early on that the program would involve a range of experiences in human resources, from involvement in all aspects of recruitment and operational tasks, as well as working toward getting some important projects off the ground.

We did receive a very cynical response to our advertisement for the program from one person who thought that we were attempting to find someone to do our filing for free. The way we addressed such cynicism was to ensure that we did not ask any work experience person to do something that we would not be prepared to do ourselves. Furthermore, as each member of the HR team does their own filing, the work experience person is expected to do the same.

There is a real problem with the way universities structure their HR degrees. With nursing, social work and the sciences, students are required to undertake at least a semester of practical work experience in order to graduate. Why isn’t this so with human resources? This would aid students in assessing whether this is the profession for them and maybe then only serious HR graduates, with some experience, who would find it easier to obtain employment after graduation would remain?

Organisations considering implementing work experience must be prepared to put in the time and effort to train the candidates, but once you get past this, you will find that your work experience student will soon be making valuable contributions in their own right. Under some supervision, our first work experience student is in the process of developing a major in-house training package in the area of recruitment. We are encouraging his ownership of the project to extend all the way and would like him to ultimately deliver the training package to our staff – that is, assuming he doesn’t get ’snapped up’ in the meantime with an offer of paid employment from another organisation that recognises the skills he has learnt in the time he has been here. By their own admission, the practical experience gained by the HR officers involved has been invaluable CV fodder that will help them secure future paid employment.

We would definitely take the opportunity to employ one of our work experience students should a vacancy arise. One of the best rewards for organisations considering implementing a work experience program is that you can turn keen graduates, who are making practical, free contributions, into actual members of staff: two thirds of the training is already done and you get to do your little bit to assist in developing the industry.

– Jamie Craigie, executive manager, human resources, United Credit Union, WA

Recruitment opinion much ado about nothing

I TOTALLY AGREE with Toby Marshall (24 January 2006, p8) that organisations have been ripped off for years by recruitment consultants, due to their method of charging and, although Toby feels he has struck on something revolutionary, we have been using the fee-for-service charging regime for more than 30 years.

There are a number of discrepancies in his rationale. If he is correct about the manner in which recruiters fill jobs and charge exorbitant fees, then why are those firms not only remaining in business, but growing, often with long-term support?

Partnerships and the notion of shared risk has been the essence of why we have successfully remained in business for more than 45 years. Through most of this time we have eschewed the provision of a guarantee for the performance of a selected candidate. We believe our product is the provision of a shortlist of candidates from which the client can confidently select a suitable person, and for this service we ask for compensation. If we don’t meet this criterion, then fire us.

I know of no other business transaction where the supplier is asked to guarantee the buyer’s ‘decision’, and I can find no justification for why we should underwrite the performance of a person over whose supervision we have absolutely no control.

Currently there is a growing recognition of the value of intellectual capital and the huge cost of replacing a valuable employee, with the parallel focus on retention. However, there is still a way to go before organisations recognise the potential savings in developing true partnerships with their external recruitment suppliers.

– David Shave, principal, David Shave Human Resources

More police not the answer to staffing woes

LAST WEEK’S front page has an article on a report saying that NSW police are seriously understaffed and urgently need another 3,000 officers (‘NSW Police staffing woes’, 28 February 2006).

However, the report is by the NSW Police Association, effectively a tight-knit trade union that has every interest in exaggerating matters in favour of their members. Hence their comparing Australia with US levels of policing.

Professor Paul Wilson of Bond University gave an interview to the ABC’s The World Today program on January 30, saying that Australian police are not understaffed, and that comparisons with the US were misleading as the US has a higher level of gun ownership and “a created underclass, black minority in inner-city areas”.

According to the Productivity Commission report released on January 31, Australia’s real recurrent spend on the police service was $5.5 billion for 2004-05.

Given the very generous salaries and conditions given to police officers (compared to the minimal qualifications needed to enter the force), we need fewer police, not more. The taxpayer cannot afford to go along with yet another panic call for more and more police.

– Dale Mills, Chippendale, Sydney

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