What is the future for university and employer relationships?

Jan 30, 2023 | Attraction & marketing

Harnessing tech, promoting diversity and developing skills are vital to the future of university and employer relationships, explain Handshake and Kingston University.

Handshake were in conversation with Kingston University during the recent ISE HE Careers Professionals Conference in London. Charles Hardy, Head of UK Partnerships at Handshake teamed up with Katie Spencer, Employment Engagement Advisor at Kingston University to talk about what universities can do to make meaningful connections with students and shore up their employment prospects for the future.

In a lively and informative discussion, the pair provided concrete advice to other universities on how to deliver successful graduate recruitment programmes in the face of an unpredictable and fast-evolving employment market.

Harnessing tech to speak the same language as students

Gen Z has grown up using social media as a means to socialise, acquire information and network with professional contacts. With 99 percent of Gen Z reportedly using social media for an average of 3 hours a day, the importance in utilising social media to connect with this cohort is more important than ever.

Early careers management platforms, like Handshake, are now able to deliver careers content and job opportunities via a medium students truly understand. Social media style ‘push notifications’ via the Handshake mobile app are intuitive and familiar to Gen Z candidates, who are used to engaging with content on the go.

Despite institutions understanding the importance of utilising social media to communicate with students through a medium they get, there is still room for improvement in this area. When discussing the importance of social channels, delegates within the room offered their experiences of engaging with students.

A popular approach to socials was instead of careers teams running the accounts, leveraging their students to act as careers champions who are able to speak to their peers via the careers Instagram and TikTok accounts to help drive engagement.

Working together to promote equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusivity in a workplace is more important to Gen Z than it has been for any previous generation. In a recent study, 83% of Gen Z individuals stated an employer’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is significant when choosing where to work.

In the session, Katie Spencer spoke about the importance of inclusivity to Kingston University and their students and how this reflects the employers they directly work with.

For example, Kingston University works with ELEVATE, an accelerator programme designed specifically for Kingston University’s Black students. The programme is designed to help students explore career paths and gain the right skills to succeed – and to date, ELEVATE has supported more than 700 students.

Charles spoke about how Handshake is able to help employers with their diversity and inclusion ambitions by reaching out to students who have signalled certain demographics through their Handshake profiles. Handshake helps careers services professionals track the  progression of certain groups of students via background data tags – allowing them to proactively support specific groups of students.

Ensuring students have the skills to succeed in their future careers

It perhaps goes without saying that supporting students’ skills acquisition and articulation will continue to be vital in the months and years ahead. Promisingly, universities like Kingston are embedding employability across curricula – ensuring students know exactly how their studies will contribute to their job prospects for the long-term.

Katie explored Kingston’s Navigate programme – an institution-wide initiative to ensure Kingston’s students are equipped with the skills, experience, and opportunities to succeed in their future careers.

The programme will see careers professionals work hand-in-hand teaching and learning staff to ensure that students are confident they’re gathering the skills employers are looking for, both today and in the future.

To view the full presentation slides click here,

Read more advice and insight on employer engagement

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