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Employer Engagement: Strategic Perspective & Continuum Approach. Sabine Hotho & Helen Smith Dundee Business School University of Abertay Dundee. Presentation Overview. Is there a need for taking a ‘ strategic perspective ’ ? How might one define a ‘ strategic perspective ’ ?

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employer engagement strategic perspective continuum approach

Employer Engagement:Strategic Perspective & Continuum Approach

Sabine Hotho & Helen Smith

Dundee Business School

University of Abertay Dundee

presentation overview
Presentation Overview
  • Is there a need for taking a ‘strategic perspective’?
  • How might one define a ‘strategic perspective’?
  • How can we make strategy happen?
  • Dundee Business School – a Strategy in Process
employer engagement imperative

Is there a need for a strategic perspective?

Employer Engagement - Imperative
  • Lambert Report 2003
  • “Universities could be doing more …”
  • Financial Times 2007, 2009 and various
  • “Universities fail to deliver …”
  • “Universities fail to meet employer demands …”
  • 2011 CBI / EDI Education & Skills Survey : “applicants for graduate jobs are failing to meet business’ high expectations – 70% say that graduates need to be better prepared for the work place”
employer engagement imperative1
Employer Engagement - Imperative
  • CBI/NUS 2011 Survey: Working towards Your Future – Making the Most of your Time in Higher Education
  • “The pressure will be on institutions to show how their courses can help students achieve a return on their investment by securing good employment”
  • “There are responsibilities for business too. Employers are going to have to get better at communicating skills needs, and expanding opportunities for students to gain experience – and work with Universities to help them deliver relevant courses…”
checking on research
Checking on Research
  • Mixed results
    • Maher and Graves observe that “the relevance [of employability activities] is often missed by students” (Graves and Maher, 2007)
    • Barrie (2002, 2003) and others note little impact because of tutors’ scepticism, the lack of shared understanding, and lack of conceptual clarity
    • Little (2004) notes that there is “little evidence of systematic thinking about how best to achieve this [embedding employability] let alone any model” (Little, 2004)
what academics think a world divided
What academics think… a ”world divided”
  • “the majority of students still believe that the courses are actually doing this -the certificate that they get at the end is actually what makes employable”…
  • “I suppose employability involves .. The subjects I teach …”
  • “its been an ongoing battle … of making people understand…”
  • “the biggest thing that we can do […] is do more with employers to get stronger links with University courses etc”
  • “I think we have this community placement module, but I don’t really know what Dave does with it to tell you the truth..”
employer engagement imperative2
Employer Engagement Imperative
  • “much is already underway. The challenge is to do more and to do it better” (CBI/NUS Report, 2011)
  • “Universities could do better” (Lambert Review, 2007)
employer engagement contested terrain
Employer Engagement – Contested Terrain?
  • Sally Hunt, general secretary, University and College Union (2008)
  • “The most effective way for universities to contribute to our society and economy is by allowing them to retain their principle missions as places of research and scholarship.
  • “Affording the private sector a major say in the curriculum today will mean less innovation and invention for tomorrow as university staff are forced to prioritise policy that focuses purely on the numbers game.”
employer engagement
Employer Engagement
  • Conflicting messages
  • Interesting debates
  • Progress patchy
  • Conflicting stakeholder interests yes or no
  • An overwhelming multitude and diversity of (subject specific) case studies and best practice examples
  • A lot of initiatives and funding for projects
status quo
Status quo
  • Research concerned with effective models of employer engagement (e.g. work-based learning, work placement literatures)
  • Prescriptions and models concerned with ‘embedding employability’ with role of employer as ‘sponsor’ of work experience
  • Typologies of employer engagement (Lambert Review: “work force development”, accreditation, student employablity, involvement in curriculum design”)
  • Case studies
much less talk about
Much less talk about ….
  • Employer engagement is a ‘process’ not an episode, act or action
  • Employer engagement requires a strategy or it remains a solo initiative (or composite of solo initiatives)
  • Employer engagement requires an understanding of collaborative partnership building
  • Employer engagement is a management task for senior managers (heads of school, department, service)
  • Employer engagement is a change management task if it is to be implemented and sustained
dbs a live case
DBS - A ‘live’ case …
  • “Exemplary” result in programme/subject review for subject X for creating linkage between industry and student experience
  • “Winner” of Employability Teaching award
  • Events management module
  • Business simulation
  • IBM challenge and European Masters Cup challenge
  • Student consultancy scheme
  • NHS Insight scheme
  • Case study project
  • A business incubation ‘live’ case study (online gift service)
  • Local research links into business and public sector
employer engagement1
What we have

Many activities

Keen local businesses

Keen students

Staff champions

Increase in ‘external engagement’

What we do not yet have

A linked up approach

A systematic strategic audit

A managed approach (that reduces ‘dependence’ on individual initiative

A culture of employer engagement

The power to leverage employer engagement strategically

An understanding of ‘managing EE’ (=resourcing EE)

Employer engagement
taking the strategic high road
Taking the Strategic High Road …
  • The purpose of the Dundee Business School is to produce graduates, research, scholarly and practical outputs that enable organisations to achieve excellence in their management, development, innovation and performance capabilities.
  • The vision of the Business School is to be known for
    • A student experience defined by authentic industry engagement, practice focus and academic rigour
    • A commitment to research and scholarly activity defined by needs of industry and exchange with industry
    • An approach to teaching, learning and research in which employer engagement is pervasive
  • The outcome = graduate employability
making strategy happen a strategy audit
Making strategy happen – a strategy audit
  • How and where is the mission reflected/can it be reflected?
  • How can we define our overall approach to deliver?
  • Who is accountable for delivering this?
  • What are our ‘performance’ targets?
  • What conflicts might arise?
  • How can we keep motivation going?
  • What ‘culture change’ do we need to bring about?
  • How can be build quality relationships with employers?
strengthening partnerships in a competitive environment
Strengthening Partnerships in a Competitive Environment
  • Quality partnerships with employers are a centrepiece in this strategy.
  • Quality partnerships are defined as partnerships which are
    • long-lasting (to enable planning)
    • informed by a clear sense of mutual benefits
    • informed by an understanding of business needs
    • professionally managed
    • based on trust
    • reviewed and refreshed
    • symbolically recognised
  • Quality partnerships can form the core of a ‘community of practice’ and a continuum of partnerships will serve this
the n step approach to building long lasting partnerships
The N-step approach to building long lasting partnerships
  • Establish the common ground and value of the partnership
  • Establish the desired outcomes of the partnership with reference to the three key stakeholders
  • Establish the benefits each party enjoys.
  • Establish functional roles and ownership
  • Establish communication
  • Establish what constitutes ‘success’ of the partnership
  • Establish what might constitute conflict and how it will be resolved
  • Start the partnership with a pilot
  • Establish ways of ‘value-for-effort’ evaluation
  • Establish mechanisms for celebration of success, closure and authentic feedback
the case of event management
The Case of Event Management
  • Charity sponsored brief
  • Student presentations for assessment and feedback from charity
  • Celebration of winning team
  • Trophy, shield and return next year
responsiveness to interface enquiries
Responsiveness to Interface Enquiries
  • Responsiveness
  • Offer of choices from the menu
  • Three way feedback
  • Presentation
  • Celebration
  • Reputation
insight nhs
Insight NHS
  • Regularity
  • Easy arrangements
  • Established process
  • Careful selection
  • Self determined
  • Certification
  • Feedback
from serendipity to strategy
From Serendipity to Strategy
  • Communicate the strategy
  • Find the mechanism for anchoring the strategy (programme review, cross school ‘buy in’)
  • Identify ‘employer engagement’ as part of the job and the objectives set for the year
  • Address reservations about the ‘mine-is-mine’- issue
  • And how about the culture thing?
how about the culture thing
How about the culture thing?
  • It’s the leadership challenge
  • Create opportunities
  • Be grateful for initiatives
  • Encourage staff
  • Clear resources