There are several options open to young people when they leave school or college at 18 and as an industry we continue to recruit at entry level, via the apprenticeship route - sometimes through to degree level - and from the university graduate pool to find the talent we need. By engaging students during their college or university course we can identify our future workforce and leadership, nurturing and guiding them through their next steps - hopefully in our direction.
Although university is definitely not for everyone, all research shows that it offers a lot in terms of maximisation of life chances. Figures published by UCAS in February shows a 5% decrease in the number of UK applicants compared with 2016. What can we do to help reverse that trend, encourage undergraduates towards courses that fill our skills gaps and support more young people through university to eventual employment with us?
Yes, concerns regarding the level of tuition fees and worries about future debt undoubtedly put some students off going to university. The government’s recent announcement of a review into post-18 education will take another look at fees, but that’s likely to take up to a year. Maybe properly repositioning the tuition fees element of the student loan as a tax that kicks in once a certain level of income is reached might help?
In terms of engaging students early, sponsoring them through their time at university together with practical work experience during holidays or longer placements, provides a win-win for employer and student. The business can decide if they will offer the student a job post-university and identify where in the company they would be most suited. And for the student, they have financial security to study, a fantastic opportunity to experience the industry first-hand and access to valuable mentoring to develop the right skills along the way to ‘fit’ the business and its needs.
With the increasing use of social media, don’t underestimate the opportunities afforded by having positive, enthusiastic brand ambassadors on university campuses. They can champion your business and share their views with their ever-expanding social networks - a rich source of potential future talent.