Leeds City College have provided some hard and fast tips to developing effective employer engagement. These are not necessarily easy things to achieve though and improving communication and partnerships with employers can take time, but these are just some of the many fundamentals that any institution can benefit from integrating into their engagement strategies:
- Create a strategy for employer engagement, communicated to a ‘college-wide’ audience and stakeholders, promoting collaboration, innovation and enterprise.
- Establish and train staff in effective use of a Customer Relationship Management System.
- Develop a map, defining roles and responsibilities for employer engagement throughout the college, including stakeholders.
- Assist companies in understanding Apprenticeship frameworks and responsibilities and thereby offering a full turnkey solution to businesses.
- Run events, workshops, master classes on knowledge transfer, inviting contributions, sharing best practice and inviting speakers from the business community.
- Develop highly targeted campaigns and know your target audience – do not be everything to everyone – tailor your activities to the employer's needs/interests.
- Use the employer’s language and do your research to demonstrate knowledge in their sector.
- Add a personal touch. Don’t use scripts or email templates and tailor the communication with an employer on an individual basis.
- Always look to establish a connection and build your relationships with individuals, get to know who you deal with as a person as well as a job title.
- Keep in touch with employers, show an interest in their business and let them know what is happening in yours.
- Promote and deliver products and services that are relevant and meet both current and projected industry and sector needs.
- Listen carefully to what employer’s individual business and workforce development needs are and work collaboratively to find realistic solutions that fit their requirements.
- Support employers to complete a full training or organisational needs analysis. Provide accurate and up to date advice and guidance regarding the skills solutions available and where appropriate, signpost employers to where they can access additional support or training.
- Ensure that the provision is flexible and, where possible, could also be delivered on employer premises to minimise disruption to the normal workflow on business premises.
- Encourage the employer to involve their employees when looking at the training and development needs for their workforce. This is not only good practice but makes the learner feel valued and can help them to see the investment the employer is putting into them by re-training or upskilling.
- Fully support the trainers and tutors to set up the delivery in a smooth and efficient manner.
- Request feedback and an evaluation at the end of the employer engagement journey. How did we meet your needs? Did the training meet your needs? What can we do to make it even better?
- Sustain relationships with employers by keeping in touch, asking them to attend business networking events that we may organise, keeping them informed of any new projects or services we can provide to create opportunities for repeat business.
What are your tips for employer engagement? Tell us on social media with the #VEexchange hashtag.
Next month, we will be hearing from Leeds City College again, as they expand on this theme of employer engagement, discussing their position within the skills market and how they provide the skills needed to make a positive impact on the region's economy.