Employer engagement is a key element of the careers agenda for young people and employers and industry are closely linked to at least 3 of the Gatsby Benchmarks (2, 5 & 6) although information relating to the labour market likely permeates all of them. As a large employer with links across a large and densely populated area, the NHS in Greater Manchester receives a very high volume of requests for support and engagement from local schools and colleges. Whilst we recognise the need to inspire and attract our future workforce and to highlight the broad range of career opportunities in our industry, we also have limited resources and capacity to support activity which means we need to make a compelling case to our leadership in order to free up staff to get involved and dedicate resources to coordinating programmes and initiatives.
One of the key challenges that my team face during internal discussions around how to sustain and enhance our programmes is how to demonstrate the impact and outcomes of the work we are involved in. Do our work experience learners go on to careers in the industry? How might it have benefited them in other ways? How did the event we organised affect the learners who came along and took part? We’re aware that some of the outcomes will not be apparent for many years if at all and that progress to job roles or higher educational routes are not the only measures of the impact of engagement. This said, it would be useful to identify what information might be obtained or monitored to assess whether the work we are doing is supporting both our needs as a business and the career trajectory (either in our industry or otherwise) of the young people involved.
The NHS is fortunate to have some resources dedicated to Widening Participation activity as well as specific targets and strategies issued from regulatory agencies to support the agenda, this is not necessarily the case for all employers and industries and small and medium enterprises in particular may not have the same incentives to engage. With this in mind I thought it would be useful to pose the question to educators attending the event in July of how might you be able to support employers to make the case for supporting the careers agenda? What information do you yourselves monitor/have access to? Is there any way this could be linked to employer engagement or workplace experience? What limitations would there be?
This article was written by Leo Clifton, Head of Widening Participation, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust