How to engage school leavers and apprentices during the pandemic

May 5, 2020 | Apprentices & school leaver

Expert advice from Simon Reichwald, Strategic Lead for Talent at MyKindaFuture, who hosted ISE’s webinar Engaging School Leaver and Apprentice Talent in a Disrupted World.

1. Help meet Gatsby Benchmarks digitally

Teachers and career leaders are facing unprecedented challenges in these uncertain times. They are grappling with new tech solutions, disruptions to normal teaching and a lack of connection with students. For career leaders at schools and colleges, offering career support and meeting Gatsby Benchmark obligations digitally (as opposed to face-to-face) will be a new and unfamiliar challenge.

This presents employers with a fantastic opportunity to support education providers by flagging directly how their digital offering can support Gatsby Benchmarks. Employers can also demonstrate how a mutually beneficial partnership can help schools reach their targets whilst connecting with a valuable pipeline of bright young talent.

2. Find different ways to connect with teachers

Employers must find different ways to connect with schools and colleges now that it is likely that all face-to-face activity will be postponed until the autumn term and teachers may not even be in schools until then! With educators facing more challenges than ever before, there is currently a fantastic opportunity to foster relationships with teachers online through emails and video conferencing. But, there are two very important things to bear in mind. Firstly provide materials, content and activities that support teachers to deliver careers within the curriculum – don’t just send them opportunities to promote (they are not a job centre!). Secondly, engage teachers with empathy, patience and an understanding of their current situation.

Working with intermediary organisations, which already have strong relationships with education providers, such as MyKindaFuture, is a great way to begin to build and develop these relationships. Those who invest in supporting schools and colleges now will be rewarded later down the line when things have returned to normal (whatever that normal will be) and these strong, ongoing relationships have already been built.

3. Deliver effective virtual work experience programmes

It is possible to deliver effective virtual work experience programmes whilst the Covid-19 pandemic restricts on-the-job experience. For these to be successful – and this is too often overlooked – the activities that students undertake virtually must be simple and easy to follow. There must be a clear brief to ensure a mutual understanding of the programme and its objectives.

Just like real-world work experience, the programmes should include a mixture of individual and project-based work, so don’t require them to be constantly online (for many this will not be possible at home). Also offer a genuine insight into working culture by offering participants the opportunity to hear from employees (videos, Zoom/Teams or digital buddies/mentors) and get involved in solving real-life problems. Finally you should, where possible, aim to offer an opportunity for students to come into your business in the future when it is safe to do so, for example an insight event, especially if work experience is a feeder for apprentice recruitment.

4. Maintain high engagement levels

One difficulty faced by businesses right now is maintaining high engagement levels with prospective employees and apprentice candidates. In many cases, candidate journeys and onboarding periods are now likely to be longer and more uncertain. With traditional engagement strategies, such as inviting candidates in for keeping-in-touch days, no longer possible, digital solutions, such as MyKindaFuture’s online candidate and employee engagement platform Connectr, can help to address this challenge.

Connectr brings businesses and talent together through digital buddies/mentors, bite-sized learning content to begin building skills and deepening knowledge of the business and chatrooms so they can connect with other new starters and you with them. It enables companies to build a vital sense of belonging amongst each individual on a large scale, ensuring prospective employees feel valued and motivated, even during this uncertain time. All in a safe moderated environment. In fact, Connectr has helped organisations reduce candidate reneges by as much as 60% and increased glassdoor ratings by 15%.

5. Communicate clearly

This year’s school-leavers are facing a great deal of uncertainty, both to do with their grades and passage into employment or further education. It is essential that all parties – schools, employers and universities – communicate with students clearly, openly and effectively, and provide individuals with the information they need to alleviate concern. For example, an employer could explain its position to grades awarded in the way that they will be this year, if they are still recruiting etc. Students can feel quite cut off and only have media headlines to go on, so where there is good news please share it with them!

Watch the ISE webinar Engaging School Leaver and Apprentice Talent in a Disrupted World

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Tags: Covid-19


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