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interns are not cheap labour

Interns are not Cheap Labour — but They Can Save You Money

Does that sound like a contradiction?

It’s not.

Setting up a successful internship and graduate program takes work, which involves time and investment from a business. But the returns of such programs for your business are paramount.

First things first, interns are not cheap labour

Our friends at Oursky couldn’t have said it better, “interns are not cheap labour, they’re inexperienced labour.” This means a good internship program requires training, mentoring, and skill-building — all of which are investments on the employer’s part.

Whether at student level or graduate, utilizing an intern’s’ skill set, knowledge, and support takes planning. As employers and managers of this talent, you need to design the internship program or projects in a way that allows interns to contribute with their existing skills and learn new ones.

This means assigning tasks that will be challenging but not overwhelming for the young team members.

So, how does having interns save you money?

By utilizing talent the right way, hiring interns can help your business save on several costs.

Minimal initial visa and onboarding costs

Unless you’re trying to hire an international candidate (visit visas), interns don’t need employer visas in order for them to legally be part of your workforce on a temporary basis. You’re only required to apply for a work permit or labour card (here’s our UAE intern visa guide to help you with that). You save on paying for a candidate’s insurance policy, vacation time, and medical exams since those things are covered in their existing visa.

If your organization is a part of the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority, and you’re hiring an student studying in one of the 23 institutions at DCCA, you can pass on work-permit costs as well through the Earn While You Learn program.

Opportunity costs

Hiring an intern allows you to have a trial run with the talent in a particular role (in terms of performance, culture, and personality fit) before you decide to hire permanently. This way, by the end of the internship period, you can be fairly certain which intern would be the best fit for your team.

Turnover costs

A 2009 NACE study reported that interns are more loyal to your organization than a full-time hire or a long-term employee.

Around 31% of those surveyed reported a higher retention rate amongst their interns within the first year, and after five years, almost 40% reported higher retention of hires through an internship program than other hires.

Mid/senior-level recruitment costs

Young people who are in the first stage of their career can be trained for the positions currently open but can also be molded into the roles your organization anticipates in the future. The senior level positions that will need experienced hands often end up filled by former interns within a company.

Senior level positions are expensive to fill, however, if young talent is nurtured the right way, it can become an integral, and fail-proof, part of your talent pipeline.

Similarly, once an intern has completed her/his program and leave the organization, they automatically become a talent referral course for the company – provided they have had a positive interning experience.

The assumption that budding young professionals are satisfied with being ‘cheap labour’ for the sake of gaining real world experience is by and large an unethical one.

It’s crucial to understand that a candidate fresh out of university, without much work experience will not be able to deliver the way a seasoned employee with 8 years in the field under their belt will. However, nurturing that talent can save you resources in the present and the future.

Have you had an intern who has saved you a lot more than hassle? Tell us about it in the comments below!

P.S. Want more advice on how to utilize your team of interns? Get it straight to your inbox

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