London 2016 Conference on Employer Engagement in Education and Training

Last week we had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the excellent London 2016 Conference on Employer Engagement in Education and Training. Several themes stood out over the course of the two days. Here are 5 of them…

1. Employer engagement is important 

During his talk on, ‘Employer Engagement in Governance’, Lord Nash said he wanted every school in England to have one person working full time on employer engagement related activities. Similarly, Adrian Lyons from Ofsted reported on an extensive survey Ofsted have recently completed on employer engagement in England. The recommendations of this report, due to be published later this year, will show just how seriously Ofsted are taking employer engagement.

2. Employer engagement is challenging

The opening speaker, Simon Field from the OECD, made the argument that employer engagement was difficult because of culture, institutions and economics. He said employer engagement has been taken over by the classroom, which means our training environments are being led by an institution that has no experience of the workplace. He also touched on the fact that vocational training is not ‘cool’ enough and must do better to attract young people away from the ‘university experience’ that is cherished by so many.

3. Employer engagement is international

One of the best things about the conference was the number of different countries represented. The digital revolution is truly a global revolution and consequently every country is having to adapt their strategy to ensure they produce the necessary skills for the future workplace. Countries highlighted as thought leaders in this field included Sweden, Norway and Austria.

4. Employer engagement demands creativity

In 2011 the Wolf Review encouraged a change in the focus of work experience. Since then, there has been an enormous amount of creativity in the industry to ensure effective delivery and this was represented by the plethora of different programs working to engage education with employers.

5. Employer engagement must be delivered strategically

Teachers will be glad to know there were representatives from various schools who were quick to point out that teachers’ workloads are already bursting at the seams without the responsibility of hitting employer engagement targets. This is also true for many employers’ who want to deliver employer engagement but don’t feel like they have the time or resources. Therefore, if we are going to improve the delivery of employer engagement in education we can’t simply create more work or build new programmes. Instead, we have to think strategically about how we can maximise employer engagement with minimal administration.

That’s why Chris gave his presentation the title, ‘Being Smart about Employer Engagement’, and explained how we have implemented PDMS Employed across the Isle of Man to streamline employability services. So far we have created a single point of entry for multiple job listings and out of a working population of 30,000 we have around 20% of the workforce and 80% of active employers enrolled on the system. We can schedule 1,500 weeks of work experience per annum for 5 secondary schools and have listed 14,537 vacancies in the last 12 months. Oh, and we do all of this with one Work Experience Co-ordinator working across 5 high schools! Our work experience co-ordinator is very good but she couldn’t do it without PDMS Employed.

This was the first time PDMS had been involved in an Education and Employers Research event and it definitely won’t be the last. You can see the presentations here and view the top tweets from the event here. If you would like to discuss how we could help your organisation deliver employer engagement services through PDMS Employed please get in touch with Richard Graham (richard.graham@pdms.com).