Inexperience can be a huge strength for employers

Inexperience can be a huge strength for employers

Experience. The quality which all employers are looking for, but few are willing to invest in. They prefer ready-made to making and shaping our future. I see my students struggling to show experience because often employers do not want to give it to them.

Young people today have fascinating life experience and passion to match, and their curiosity and hunger to grow is their greatest asset. Surely employers want to be questioned about their practices so that they can apply new methods to transform old habits? Besides what does experience mean anyway? Women who have been out of work because of family duties, have vast experience, but rarely get the support and mentoring to return to work. In a short while, they can be hugely productive if only someone were to buddy and support them in the first six months. This is a big loss for society.

Did Mark Zuckerberg have social media, corporate, finance and global experience when he started Facebook? Byju was founded with a deep passion for teaching and helping young people learn - inexperience was overcome by hunger, determination and idealism. Do they qualify as experience? Can the lack of qualifications mean a different hunger for creativity and risk taking which is often the making of entrepreneurs? Why is regularly practicing and playing an instrument in an orchestra with 60 different people not experience of loyalty and harmony, something which all employers want?

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Research consistently shows that the first 2,000 days of a child’s life are critical to their mental, emotional, social and cognitive development. Why do employers not ask us about those early years? Is growing up, migration, travel or scouts membership not experience?

Often experience can be a burden rather than a strength. It can reduce hunger to grow and adapt. It hurts when people prevent juniors to progress OR play politics to destroy skilled people in an organization. In a world of such rapid change, why is it that employers keep insisting on work experience? Experience can become out of date. I know my students are so hungry for internships and placements, but these are so rare and competitive that only the well qualified get through the door. They are then abandoned to spend their vacations at home and play computer games rather than be helpful to society. We should be collectively angry at how this world is treating young people and do something to change it. Our sustainable future depends on it.

Work is 9-5 but experience is gained 5-9. Which has more hours of care, friendship, volunteering, trust and kindness? The real equation of experience is knowledge+culture+character+belief+risk. It definitely is not grades+hours worked in investment banks! In fact in finance, if you can show me how you have lived with little money that is much better experience then if you have lived with a silver spoon. Culture is a key component of the equation of experience but rarely recognised, measured or even understood by Human Resource experts in terms of nuances, diverse histories, complex practices, depth and yes true richness. The invisible is often a critical component of success in a world swimming on the surface.

In my upcoming book on ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Finance’, I place culture and traditions at the centre of finance and remove all equations and critique empire building. I encourage servant leadership - giving and volunteering as a way of understanding how much we can achieve in life without money spoiling the equation. I show how finance is often a source of slavery and waste rather than energy, resourcefulness and wisdom. Exploitation is hidden in the equations and inequality is never the fault of powerful bankers, even when it is often created by them.

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Purpose and meaning are also stripped out of CVs to make them fit a standard format and appear objective and neutral. Young people today from Generation Y and Z, are looking for purpose and meaning and struggle to be a cog in the standard wheel of business factories. Business has a unique opportunity to care and nurture experience, and listen to the questions posed by young people.

Ready-made individuals can be costly, and potentially damaging too. Giving experience to young people is like planting seeds of hope, to build a forest of sustainable co-existence. Take the risk, and get surprised by the rewards.

Professor Atul K. Shah [@atulkshah] teaches and writes about Indian wisdom on business, culture and community at various UK universities and is a renowned international author, speaker and broadcaster.

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