By Timothy Stuurman
South African business owners are ambivalent when it comes to the use of interns in their organisations. On the one hand, many business owners are hesitant to hire young graduates due to their lack of work place experience. On the other, the rapid growth of initiatives such as the Graduate Asset Programme (GAP), which helps businesses find interns who meet their requirements, suggests an increased appetite for interns, especially amongst small businesses. So, how can hosting an intern add value to your bottom line?
1. Test Drive – Try before you buy
Hosting an intern allows your business to test the value of a vast array of skill sets with peace of mind, knowing that the appointment is a low risk, flexible option that you can gear to benefit your business. During the internship period your business is not burdened with long term contracts, making it easy to make changes if you are not satisfied with the candidate after the internship period has ended.
2. Score BEE scorecard points and claim Youth Wage subsidies
You can potentially earn B-BBEE points for both skills development (due to hosting an intern) and employment equity (should you usher a black South African through an internship and then give them a permanent job). You can also potentially claim the Youth Wage Subsidy incentives if your intern meets the criteria.
3. Learning – Gain deeper insight into certain aspects of your business.
Interns enter your business environment enthusiastic, objective, and mentally unrestricted. They will often ask questions and make suggestions that have the potential to open your eyes to new/improved business practices that you may not have considered. In essence the internship process becomes a learning environment for both the intern and yourself.
4. Productivity – You have extra hands on deck, making it easier to get things done
Interns allow a business to test new areas and research new opportunities that may have been on the ‘wish list’ for a while but not followed up due to lack of time and resources. Many young SA graduates are also tech-savvy, and can confidently take charge of areas such as social media, website updates, online marketing etc.
5. Contribute to a better future for all of us
Employing an intern is not just good for your business, but good for the country as a whole. With almost half of our young people in SA unemployed, every opportunity we can create to give a first-time job seeker a chance to prove their worth is invaluable and important to our collective future prosperity as a nation.
If you would like to host an intern in your business, there are a growing number of internship initiatives available to help you find the right intern for you. The biggest of these is the Graduate Asset Programme (www.gogap.co.za), a free online intern-to-business matching tool which hosts a database of over 20 000 graduates from all fields of study from all over