Collaboration, communities, constant change and choice were key themes at ISE’s Student Recruitment Conference 2023, explains ISE head of insights, Georgia Greer.
It’s the first year that I’ve had the privilege of being part of the ISE team at our Student Recruitment Conference.
I got to see behind the scenes of this huge two-day event, which for many in our community is an important time to come together, share, learn and reflect on all the important topics facing our profession and industry.
From the very beginning of the conference, there were some clear themes around collaboration, communities, constant change and choice. I hope we will continue to discuss these topics far beyond our two days together in Manchester.
Meeting change with collaboration
Stephen Isherwood, Joint ISE CEO, opened the conference with some insightful data and a panel conversation where we explored how demographics and skills needs will change our sector over the next decade.
Education systems, recruitment, and development programmes, need to be much broader in scope and not focus exclusively on school leavers and graduates.
This need to identify alternative talent communities, hire for potential and support skills development is a fantastic opportunity for our profession to come together and showcase how we can address these challenges together.
This theme of collaboration and co-creation ran throughout many of the sessions across the two days. We heard about how organisations are working together to try to tackle skills shortages, engage with underrepresented communities, and sharing ideas on how to improve the choices and outcomes for all.
Community in all its forms
We heard about the importance of community. Creating communities of young people to support their transition from academia to the world of work. Communities of internal colleagues coming together to deliver work insights to school students. And communities of industry professionals trying to tackle skills shortages impacting their industry.
Harnessing the power of these communities is a key way we can deliver positive impact and change as a profession.
We also heard a lot across the two days about the changes in expectations and aspirations of generation Z.
These are understandably influenced by the external environment they have experienced in recent years including the pandemic and cost of living crisis. Their desire for flexibility, equity, and financial stability were key takeaways, as well as the appetite for their work to have purpose and positive societal and environmental impact.
Authenticity and choice
Linked to this was an openness and sense of necessity from employers and educators about being authentic about careers and professions, to enable individuals to make informed choices about their futures.
An important part of that is being able to understand the culture and values of an organisation and being able to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging.
This could include the use of ‘real models’, a new idea from conference for me, but one I think is highly compelling.
Unlike role models, who tend to be famous people or those at the very top of their game, real models are maybe only a few steps ahead of the individual. However, they are aspirational and demonstrate that success is attainable in the context of their chosen career or organisation.
We also talked about the importance of careers education and choice.
To paraphrase the wonderful Caitlin Moran from her session at conference, we need a ‘you choose’ approach to careers. Somewhere you can go to explore different opportunities and figure out what suits you best.
A great example of this I heard about for the first time at conference was the idea of ‘workplace safaris’. Employers come together to offer young people opportunities to try different types of work with different types of employers. This helps them to work out what type of work and environment suits them best.
It would be remiss of me not to mention one of the other hot topics of conference, ChatGPT.
As well as future focused discussions on the impact AI will have on jobs, speakers prompted lively conversations about the immediate impact of Chat GPT.
There was broad agreement that we need to collaborate to understand AI’s impact and ensure it is used appropriately and positively by students and employers.
The exciting thing for me about these themes from conference is that they transcend industries, sectors, levels of education, skills, and work experiences. They also provide opportunities for us to enable a future of work which can and will improve the outcomes for everyone.
There was a real sense of the ISE community coming together, recognising the challenges that lie ahead, and a desire to work together to find solutions which will bring about positive, long-lasting impact, to the benefit of all.
An exciting proposition, which I look forward to continuing the conversations on as we move forward from our two days together.
Join the ISE community at the next event. ISE’s Student Development Conference takes place on 5 July.