Five ways employers are adapting student attraction in 2021

Feb 4, 2021 | Attraction & marketing

Employers share how their experiences of 2020 are shaping student attraction and engagement in 2021, reports TheTalentPeople.

Organisations such as Virgin Media, AstraZeneca and Microsoft got together for TheTalentPeople’s ninth roundtable to discuss student attraction and engagement in 2021.

Build-up to the event had already identified that creating certainty in an uncertain recruitment world would be a key focus for many attendees.

The conversation on the day covered three areas; what we must ‘stop, start and continue’, how changes to candidate grading would shape screening in the student recruitment process, and how the Kickstart programme could be leveraged to grow new and diverse hires.


Five ways employers are adapting student attraction in 2021

1. Virtual working

The notion of ‘Stop. Start. Continue.’ started the discussion with some of the attendees being open with fact that they were almost certainly not returning to face-to-face meetings or working until the start of 2022.

Protecting staff, saving money and time, and also simplifying logistics were all valid reasons for this. It was hoped for some that a blended approach could be utilised, combining the ‘best of both’ in virtual and face-to-face but it was hard to put a timeline on this given the current circumstances.

2. Blended approach

Virtual assessment centres and work experience were also likely to stay as they are too, unless a role requires access to the work site. Candidate engagement had been sufficient since moving to mostly virtual practices, but a blended approach could work well too. It was understood that many roles benefit from in-person experience and that these were likely to return to the workplace before others.

3. Adapted entry criteria

Many organisations have had to adapt entry requirements to be ‘more realistic’ in line with the changing exam grading protocol. For some it was an opportunity to amend entry requirements as a whole, understanding that not all of what they were asking for was relevant anymore, or at least could be achieved in other ways (UCAS points).

4. Grade screening review

Generally, it was accepted by attendees that grade screening is still an uncertain area and that a strategy would develop as the year plays out, whether that is the introduction of more lower-level training programmes, the review of soft skills and organisational fit, or simply being less specific about subject grades required.

5. Adoption of government Kickstart scheme

For many of the attendees, the government Kickstart programme was of prime importance to their student attraction strategy in 2021. The programme is said to offer many new routes to hiring diverse and capable talent. But most importantly there is take-up because they feel it is the ‘right thing to do’.

Despite the widespread interest in Kickstart, however, there is said to exist many barriers to organisations getting involved. From the costs associated with paying national living wage, food subsidies and technology, to the red tape associated with organisational involved in the programme. Some attendees have positions and teams ready to go but are being hindered by the necessary applications.

Read the full in-depth roundtable report.


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