Tapping into Fresh Skills

Tapping into Fresh Skills

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It’s a catch 22. Business owners need skilled employees with experience. Graduates are looking for jobs fresh out of university, have no way to gain experience, but need experience if they hope to get a job. So how do you bring these two scenarios together?

Charles Pritchard, the successful CEO of Entelect, a customised software solutions company, believes in taking the best of the best fresh out of varsity, and giving them a springboard from which to launch their careers.

This head start is given to about 15 graduates through an extensive five month Development Bootcamp.

Investing in the future

The bootcamp consists of a series of lectures and then some practical assignments that are later critiqued and reviewed by lead software architects before being deployed into the systems environment.

Thereafter, the graduates join various teams and finish off their apprenticeship earning some working experience in the real world.

The training and theoretical element to the apprenticeship takes roughly two months to complete, while the working experience takes place over a further three.

 

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During these five months in total, the graduates are paid a full salary at cost to Entelect. More than this though, Entelect adds the graduates to their client’s teams for free for those three months. After the apprenticeship is complete and the graduates are up to steam, their salaries jump quickly.

“We have an upfront agreement with our clients that they get free employees for three months, but thereafter, if they want them to stay on, they earn industry-related salaries,” says Pritchard. “It allows us to place new talent with our clients, and gives them a ‘trial’ period.”

In other words, when those three months are finished, the client then decides whether or not they would like to keep the graduate on their team, but they go from free additions to working at a fixed price like all the other team members.

“Our graduates are more expensive than others in the market,” says Pritchard, “but they’ve had more training, and they’re already familiar with a client’s business.”

The catalyst for success

This is the second year that the accelerated training has taken place. “It’s a big investment on Entelect’s behalf, but it’s working,” says Pritchard.

One of the hardest lessons that Pritchard has learnt over time is that graduates are only productive after a full working year. They need to first get their feet wet. The programme is a way of achieving the goal of full productivity as quickly as possible – creating talented employees along the way.

“Everyone wins. The graduates feel empowered and we get to hire and train the best problem solvers, because at their core, engineers are problem solvers.”

Pritchard has had an interesting history with graduates. He started the company while still lecturing at WITS and used his knowledge of the final year groups to take good people to market at much less than ordinary consultant fees.

“The trick is knowing who the clever guys are,” he says.

Entelect and Pritchard have held on to their relationships with universities around the country and make sure that graduates know Entelects’ name before the students finish studying.

Entelect even goes as far as sponsoring prizes and awards at certain universities to remain top of mind when graduates start job hunting. After all, it’s never too early to start wooing talent.

Katie Cubitt
Katie Cubitt completed an internship with Entrepreneur Magazine in 2014. She is a final year Journalism and Linguistics student at the University of Johannesburg.