Trainee South is a regional trainee program that aims to attract, retain and develop highly skilled talent to the southern region of Norway.
Many European regions struggle to attract and retain young professionals. In the STEM sector, with a smaller talent pool and lower % of women, this impacts negatively on the gender gap. This is an issue in the Agder region, whose key business sectors are ship technologies, marine engineering and offshore drilling. Trainee South was launched to meet companies’ needs to attract young professionals to the area. Enterprises, universities and public institutions participate and use their communication channels to publicize the program.
In terms of criteria to participate, it is open to graduates up to 30 years old from across Norway, who have an excellent academic background and demonstrate a strong motivation to boost the development of Agder. Enterprises benefit from a professional recruitment service, guaranteeing that the most skilled applicants are selected. Evaluation of skills helps eliminate gender bias that can discriminate against women in male-dominated sectors.
Concerning activities, selected applicants participate in an 18-month-long paid traineeship, working in different companies and institutions (6 months each). They are in close contact with a daily manager and other trainees to ask questions and share experiences. They are also coupled with a carefully selected mentor who helps them to identify goals and overcome challenges. Trainee South also organizes parallel networking events, study trips and courses and training events, such as public speaking courses.
Human resources: the program is run by one manager and external companies are involved in the recruitment process and mentoring sessions.
Economic resources: participating companies pay a participation fee, in addition to the salary of the trainees
Evidence of success
The program provides female STEM graduates with the opportunity to get a better start for their careers. Some figures showing the success are:
- 50/50 gender balance
- 9/10 trainees receive job offers within the region after the end of the program
- 70% of trainees remain in the region
- 25 trainees in the current portfolio
- 70 companies involved across 15 years
- 40 currently companies involved
Guarantee a close collaboration among all actors involved (companies, institutions, and universities) and ensure that graduates and businesses can both benefit from the programme (win-win logic). Need for targeted communication to raise awareness and attract female STEM graduates across the country.
Potential for learning or transfer
The stakeholder cooperation model upon which Trainee South is built can be easily replicated in other interested regions, focusing on their core business sectors. The main stakeholders are companies participating in the program, regional authorities, and academia.
An important aspect to keep in mind, when transferring the practice, is that Norway has a high awareness of gender issues.
In Trainee South, gender balance comes naturally, thanks to a recruitment process with multiple actors involved, a high focus on skills and a low threshold for alerting uncomfortable situations/discrimination in the selection and/or trainee work (the latter being a pivotal part of Norwegian society). This means that other regions interested in implementing this type of program might need to focus more effort to guarantee gender balance and develop specific measures to facilitate female participation in the program.
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