Companies Plan to Hire More Interns as Battle for Talent Heats Up

By Paulina Cachero

The fight for talent in the tightest labor market in decades has arrived at a new phase: the battle over interns.

Companies are struggling to recruit employees as the number of job openings hit an all-time high in March, with nearly two open jobs for every unemployed person. Now, they’re trying to get a leg up against their competitors by hiring more interns to bolster their entry-level pipelines.

Across industries, companies are projected to have 22.6% more interns during the 2021-22 academic year than the year prior — a reversal from 2020-21, when companies trimmed their intern headcount by 0.5%, according to a recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which collected data from over 200 Fortune 1,000 companies between November and January.

The boost in intern headcount was even higher for the finance industry, which increased hiring by 31%, while the tech industry more than doubled its intern workforce with a surge of 138%. This aligns with a desire to increase overall company headcount: employers expected to boost their full-time hiring by 31.6%.  

“The bulk of our employers state that recruiting is the main purpose of their internship programs,” said Joshua Kahn, assistant director of research and public policy for NACE. 

The finance and tech industries have some of the highest rates of converting internships to full-time jobs at 56%, compared to 52% overall. The two industries are only eclipsed by management consulting firms, which hire interns at a rate of 65%.

As the battle for new recruits intensifies, some firms are sending offers to college students more than a year before they start with the company.

“The competition for talent is getting so strong that they have to start even going now to sophomores for an internship opportunity greater than 12 months away,” Kahn said. 

Originally posted by Bloomberg