Employer engagement in further education covers a large area. From employer’s visits and job fairs to providing careers advice, to apprenticeships, traineeships and work placement. Employers can also provide valuable feedback on the current curriculum and what they are looking for in students.
Whether you are unsatisfied with your current employer engagement activities, or want to start from scratch, the question is where to begin?
Define your objectives
A huge focus of education providers recently has been on driving the number of apprenticeships, and with the race to achieve 3m apprenticeships by 2020 this is unlikely to change in near future. As mentioned above, employer engagement goes way beyond apprenticeships. You should consider all types of involvement you would like to create no matter which department is responsible for delivery. A holistic approach to employer engagement gives you the best negotiation base and helps you to support all activities.
Create a central database of your contacts
Considering there are several departments involved, it is important to have a central database of all your contacts, even if your main focus is on driving more apprenticeships. Include contacts from your suppliers as well. It is true that some employers are open to industry visits more than having an apprentice, but all this information should be kept central to maximise your reach.
Assess your situation
Once you have formulated your vision, and collated all your contacts, it’s time to review your current situation. Do you need to increase the number of employers you are working with? Do you need to improve the relationship with the employers you are currently working with? What is your biggest challenge? Do you need to improve communication between departments? Do you need to develop the relationships with the employers? Remember, the quality of relationships is often better than quantity.
Customer relationship management systems can help you to make sure the information about an employer is shared across departments and that leads are properly followed up. With Dynamics 365 Education we have created a holistic view of the employer to include all information including whether they offer apprenticeships or not. A proper CRM helps to cut time spent on administration and improves productivity. For example, Dynamics 365 Education has a live link to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), so every apprenticeship can be uploaded directly from one system to save time spent on administration.
Identify where you can grow
There are many factors that make every further education provider’s situation unique. Different employers are open to different employer interaction. Some employers will be happy to provide industry visits while others will be interested in having an apprentice. Perhaps you need to build more on the relationships you already have across several departments. The push for more apprenticeships can prove complicated for colleges with smaller business development teams or less employer contacts. Dynamics 365 Education helps business development and apprenticeship teams identify possible new leads for apprenticeships using the job search, where you can identify currently open vacancies that could be converted into apprenticeships. Ultimately, Dynamics 365 Education supports the productivity of your teams with proper data management and lead flow, not to mention the ability to view all your opportunities and contacts on a map to identify areas where your strategy works best.
Employer engagement strategy is really about setting a holistic approach to your activities across relevant teams, and being able to access all your key contact and management information from one central place.