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How are employers working with educators this year?

September 2022

Over the last two years employers have had a chance to re-evaluate the best ways to work with educators to attract graduates - and they're weighing resource-intensive activities against more scalable options, writes Nicola Thomas

With organisational pressures and a tight labour market, employers are working hard to ensure that recruitment teams are getting the most return on investment when it comes to working with educators to attract early career hires. Previously, attending in-person careers fairs and giving in-person talks on campus was a standard way to work with educators, yet this been re-evaluated as employers consider how to maximise return on investment.

A hybrid approach wins out in 2022

In a recent piece of research conducted by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), we found that the majority of employers are expecting to embrace a hybrid approach when working with educators this year. Specifically, this means incorporating both face-to-face and virtual ways of working with educators.

Taking careers fairs as an example, increasingly, employers are moving away from face-to-face fairs. Only 3% stated they would attend these events in person, while 18% of employers indicated they would attend fairs virtually only, and the majority (69%) would combine face-to-face with virtual.

Attraction activities,Only face to face,Only virtual,Both face to face and virtual,Giving talks and workshops
Visits to schools and colleges,13,9,51,27
Insight and open days,9,15,57,19
Contributing to the curriculum,5,8,23,65
Careers fairs,3,18,69,11
Outreach events,0,12,60,29
Giving talks and workshops,0,14,82,4

Work experience is also going hybrid

By comparing data from a recent survey with the qualitative data collected in recent employer townhalls, ISE has identified two main trends. The first is that engagement with schools and colleges has also shifted to be mostly hybrid. Only 13% of organisations are engaging with schools and colleges in-person only.

Secondly, employers have told us that due to changes in working patterns for managers, the way they are conducting work experience is also shifting to be either fully virtual or hybrid. This highlights a big change in working practices for students in work experience programmes this year.

Why are employers working with educators differently?

Although organisations are approaching attraction activities differently, we have identified three main reasons employers are working with educators differently this year. These main reasons are that hybrid enables the better use of organisational resources, face-to-face leads to better student engagement, hybrid enables wider attraction.

For example, when we asked employers why they were taking a more face-to-face, hybrid or online approach this year, three core themes emerged:

1. Hybrid enables better use of organisational resources

  • Employers said they saved 'resources and volunteers' time'.
  • 'With our resource spread across EMEA, it's easier and cheaper to manage these events virtually'
  • It 'provides greater reach, increase accessibility and helps with a small recruiting team'
  • It 'allows more flexibility and options for people to attend'.

2. Face-to-face leads to better engagement & is in demand from students

  • Employers said that 'face-to-face is way more effective'.
  • 'Students benefit from meeting employers face to face'.
  • 'We are meeting the demand for F2F from students'.
  • 'Nothing beats in-person interaction'.
  • 'We have started doing F2F again to be competitive'.

3. Hybrid enables wider attraction and more targeted attraction

  • Employers said that retaining virtual reach has 'enabled us to be able to reach the most amount of candidates/potential applicants'.
  • 'Hybrid allows us to be more agile and reach more people'.
  • 'A blended approach means we're able to have a broader reach, target diversity more accurately'.
  • 'We decided to continue with an online approach this year given how we were reaching a wider audience via this means'.
  • They are 'trying to capitalise on the extra reach and accessibility that virtual can bring events'.

Engaging with educators has shifted post-pandemic

Different employers are using different approaches according to team capacity, goals and return on investment to engage with educators. However, considering the current fight to get and keep early talent, time will tell if a shift towards a more virtual or hybrid approach to attraction does enable companies to secure the talented they need. Or, will next year usher changes to more local and personal attraction strategies as employers fight to attract talent?

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