The employment market in Germany is experiencing noticeable recovery, taking the fight for talented people into the next round. The School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University Berlin has launched a website to secure up-and-coming talent: 15Talents.com. The focus lies mainly on existing and prospective young academics.
“At many of the companies pursuing employer branding initiatives, forging contacts with students at an early stage plays an important role. Until now, graduates have been linked up with companies through internships, placements and while writing final theses,” explains Prof. Dr. Werner G. Faix, who has looked closely at the issue of campus recruitment in his role as SIBE principal, entrepreneur and HR expert.
The Bologna Process is changing the university landscape in Germany, however. As part of the two-stage system, the first degree is now a bachelor’s. The aim is to prepare young academics early for the needs of the employment market. Next, students can take a master’s degree. “The processes introduced due to Bologna will mean that companies will have to overhaul their recruitment procedures,” states Faix.
In a sample of 70 universities questioned by Steinbeis University Berlin, 72% of these currently envisaged a standard six-semester study duration for a bachelor’s degree. If this is the case, there is little time left over for internships. Further, 90% of students surveyed stated that they were unable to gain practical experience between semesters, as this time was dedicated to exams. They were seldom willing to add on an extra semester for a work placement. At 19% of universities, regular bachelor’s studies last seven semesters, which generally allows one semester for an internship. At 8% of universities, the standard degree lasts eight semesters. In these cases, one semester is set aside for an internship and the other for study abroad. Only 1% of the universities questioned offered a bachelor’s degree lasting nine semesters.
What this means for companies recruiting graduates is that there is less opportunity to forge links early with applicants. “In the past, applicants were locked in through a diploma thesis, whereas now our survey indicates that there’s only an average of nine weeks to write the bachelor thesis. That is much less time than there used to be for the diploma thesis,” says Professor Faix. The trend is thus currently shifting towards bachelor theses written within the university system. Theses involving companies are a minority. As recruitment directly on campus used to be a major priority for companies, strategies will now have to be revised.
SIBE wants its 15Talents.com website to act as an intermediary for bachelor’s students to carry out projects for companies – along the lines of student business consulting. “The idea behind this is, in the future, for companies to link up with students during their studies, through projects, not just conventional internships,” explains Bettina Rominger, managing director at 15Talents. “For example, Volkswagen used 15Talents to put together a team of students via 15Talents that worked directly on a project assignment. The students were paid for their input, and a good deal of the project could be worked on from home.”
15Talents has thus found an interesting niche with much potential. The platform’s IT setup is also a major help, as students from any university in Germany can register with the site, and the groups of applicants that can be approached are not limited to specific regions. This means that companies have access to a large pool of talent that they might otherwise be unable to manage on this scale. Steffen Setzer, Director of Marketing at Canto GmbH, points to the advantages over conventional applicant searches: “We were looking for a highly specific skills set for our project. 15Talents found the right student in southern Germany. He carried out the project from home and came up to Berlin to present the results to us. The process was great for us and only required a minimum of time and effort!”