It’s time for change in student attraction

Jul 21, 2021 | Attraction & marketing

Jackie Grisdale, Youth Marketing Strategist at SMRS, explains why the pandemic has gifted us with an opportunity to shift the dial on attracting under-represented groups.

After the last year, change may be the last thing on your agenda, but stick with me and I’ll tell you why I think we have a real opportunity to change student attraction for the better.

Improving diversity within our apprentice and graduate cohorts has been on the agenda for some time.

We understand the need, the importance and the benefits for businesses through ensuring diversity within our cohorts. But for me, what’s even more important is the positive impact this can have on the futures of those young people who remain under-represented.

They are the ones who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the ones who face an uncertain future ahead and for whom the gap may have widened even further.

And while we continue to consider diversity important, more so than ever before according to High Fliers’ recent Graduate Market report, there continues to be an ongoing narrative about a struggle to attract talent from under-represented groups.

That’s why now is the time to change.


Time to change

We’ve been gifted an opportunity to be brave and take a fresh approach to the 2021/22 season and beyond. An opportunity to be more targeted, to engage with and nurture talent from under-represented groups, to ultimately be more effective in our efforts to ensure diversity.

2020 taught us that we don’t have to do what we have always done, but it also put into focus the strategies that work and create real impact.

A smart approach will be embracing a hybrid model, harnessing digital technology and all its advantages, while targeting face-to-face activities where it will have the most impact. Data will help drive decisions.

But I implore you to focus those highly influential attraction activities on those who would most benefit – those who, with a bit of support, may gain the confidence they need to apply and succeed, and those studying at universities where you might not have traditionally had an on-campus presence.

We are already seeing an increase in applications and as a result we must be much more targeted in ‘where’ we focus our efforts, to balance volume and composition.

Whether it’s through digital campaigns or on-campus and in-school/college activity, the intelligent use of data and insight and performance tracking will be essential to understanding where to find those under-represented young people you are looking to attract.


Looking ahead

Finally, a long-term early careers strategy will be essential for future success – one that focuses on engagement just as much as attraction.

Gaps have widened as a result of the pandemic; confidence has been knocked and priorities have changed. Understanding the challenges and barriers of under-represented groups and their perception of you and your industry will be key. Strategies to engage with talent much earlier, at a younger age, are equally important.

And don’t underestimate the power of delivering an ongoing programme of richer, more meaningful engagement to generate and nurture a ready talent pool over the long term, especially when it comes to shifting the diversity of your apprentice and graduate cohorts.

Find out more at

This is an excerpt from the ISE Complete Guide to Student Recruitment and Development

Was this article helpful?


Share This