Hot early talent recruitment and development topics from Scotland and the North

Apr 6, 2023 | Opinion, Sector & policy

Student mental health, recruitment best practice and social mobility were hot topics at the latest ISE Scotland and the North forum, explains Helen Liddle, university partnerships director at Gradcore.

As part of the steering group for the ISE Scotland and the North Forum, it was great to get back to an in-person member’s meeting in Edinburgh. We aim to organise quarterly meetings to discuss the latest trends and topics in early careers, all of which have been online until recently.

In March, we had the pleasure of being invited to Hymans Robertson where employers, universities and suppliers came together to share best practice.

We always invite members to help shape the content of our meetings, and this time we had a useful discussion around the following topics:

Student mental health 

A major topic of discussion for us was the results from the Cibyl Mental Health Study with responses from over 12,000 students and graduates. As many as four in five respondents were impacted by mental health difficulties.

  • 74% of those students and graduates affected by mental health worry about not being good enough. This highlighted the importance of considering what can be done to help them, improve their confidence and ensure they feel equipped and worthy to enter the job market.
  • Students find virtual support and working online to be more convenient and accessible. However, do employers have a duty of care with regards to ensuring that they first work in-person to build relationships, learn by osmosis and to see what ‘good’ looks like?
  • 49% of students think their university supports people with mental health difficulties fairly or very well. However, it’s important to track who is using this support and how frequently. How do we measure the impact of mental health services and are there any case studies from organisations that have done this well?

You can read about how Lloyds Banking Group is supporting student mental health.

  • Being able to give and receive feedback is an important part of the recruitment process. An increasing focus area is how we can continue to do this at greater scale so that qualitative and quantitative feedback can be used to positively impact the mental health of students as they interact with employability support and graduate employers.

ISE’s Student Development survey also showed that compared to previous years, 64% of employers said that the number of graduates and apprentices with mental health issues has increased.

Best practice in recruitment 

Common themes that emerged when discussing best practices in recruitment were those of sustainability and positive societal impact.

You can read about how sustainable practices impact graduate attraction and retention.

It’s clear that students and graduates today are conscious of global issues and are more likely to align themselves with organisations that can demonstrate a positive impact that speaks to those issues.

  • EY shared insights into how best to attract Gen Z. They recognise that these candidates are more motivated by opportunities to create an impact on people around them and society at large. They also responded to what is a very competitive market for tech talent, creating an innovative VR experience that gives candidates a unique insight into EY’s purpose on sustainability as well as the importance of wellbeing.
  • Hymans Robertson showed how sustainability can be highlighted as part of a small-scale recruitment campaign, such as going freebie-free and inviting candidates to influence what charities their organisation donates to.

Social Mobility Employer Index

Finally, we looked at the data employers must provide in order to be registered on the Social Mobility Index and the positive impact this has had on the recruitment industry.

  • 69% of employers are running initiatives to attract applicants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and 30% now have no minimum grade requirements for their application process.

Read how Direct Line Group has removed degree certificates as a ticket to enter its programmes.

As a regional group, we will continue to explore these topics and would welcome any ideas for our future meetings. Please look out for our next online event in the ISE calendar. It will be followed by another in-person session in Manchester later in the year.

You may also be interested in…

This season’s early talent recruitment trends

Graduate programmes and apprenticeships now hybrid

What can we expect from student recruitment and development in 2023?









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