Last week, my colleague Drew wrote about an externship program at TopLine Federal Credit Union designed to teach high school students and their educators what it means to be a successful employee. Vickie Erickson, assistant vice president of marketing, speaking during a recent Callahan & Associates’ Leadership webinar, says that the program is designed to close the gaps between what students were learning in the classroom and what employers need in the workforce. The Business Education Partnership committee of her local chamber of commerce identified team work, critical thinking, the importance of verbal and written communication, math and personal finance as key attributes that schools need to get better at instilling in future employees of America.
Their instinct was confirmed in last week’s New York Times article What It Takes to Make New College Graduates Employable. The article focuses on a special report by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace which found that “when it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving.”
Jaime S. Fall, a vice president at the HR Policy Association, is quoted in the article saying that young employees “are very good at finding information, but not as good at putting that information into context. They’re really good at technology, but not at how to take those skills and resolve specific business problems.”
Back in March, Bill Kennedy, CFO at Interior Federal Credit Union argued eloquently that credit unions can do more to educate student workers than their larger brethren. In his OpEd he states, “Interning at a credit union is not like interning at a big bank where student-interns might get stuck in one department for their entire tenure. For example, an internship in the accounts payable department of a big bank doing 500 payables a week, would not be as fruitful as the more universal experience gained from interning at a credit union. We offer a broad and diverse education and we should share that with students.”
Credit unions are uniquely positioned to help both students in need of these life lessons while also setting up a win for the institution. Our industry’s membership and leadership is aging and bringing a dose of perspective from the next generation of borrowers can serve us well. I would love to hear what your credit union is doing in this regard.