6 top tips for effective employer engagement

The ETF’s Employer Engagement Coordinators (EECs) support providers by engaging employers and establishing strong relationships, in order to provide industry insight opportunities. We have spoken to one of our EECs, Dawn Edwards, about her top tips for engaging with employers.

A lot of employer engagement is common sense, however it has been a challenging year and this has impacted on the number of companies able to commit to supporting T Level placements. Here are some of my top tips for employer engagement for the coming months…

  1. Remember employers aren’t T Level literate and a T Level placement is not an extended work placement. Your first job might be to educate employers about the differences and the advantages of taking a T Level learner on a placement. Building up employer relationships takes time and you’ll never start engagement too early when you have to get them up to speed on T Levels as well.

  2. Keep your positivity up! The last year has been challenging and at times keeping motivated will have been a struggle, but your positivity spills into the relationships you are trying to build. Take the time to celebrate those successes when you get them, because they will be well deserved. Overall, be positive, be an expert, be responsive, be confident!

  3. Have a two-way relationship with your curriculum area leads. Your T Level learners will develop some baseline skills in college. Ensure you know what these skills are, so you can make companies aware of how useful these placement students can be to a company. In return, if you discover that companies need certain skills, make sure the curriculum area lead is aware, so they can better prepare students for placement.

  4. Consider an industry insights placement as a way to connect with industry yourself and see what students will face when they go on placement.

  5. Make sure you invest in useful relationships. This goes for attending networking events and forums – put your efforts in where you get the most rewards. Sounds logical, but it’s easy to get sucked into activities that end up going nowhere. If you have a good relationship with an employer, always consider: what else might they be able to support you with?  

  6. Use the hero model, sometimes known as the story telling model in sales/marketing. Where you enable an employer to solve their own problem by firstly putting their problems as the focus, then helping them to by offering solutions, finally giving them the confidence to solve their problem. You would do this by giving examples or success ‘stories’, such as a T Level students filling a skills gap and demonstrating the positive outcomes from their placement. This might be difficult when you are new to T Levels, so it’s worth attending ETF networking events to speak to those that have had positive experiences, so you can share others’ successes until you have your own.  

Colleges should be engaging employers in proactive ways and employer needs should permeate into the curriculum. In the coming years, successful colleges will be those that reimagine employer engagement and create truly dynamic relationships with industry. The questions to consider are: how will that look for your college and your employers, and how can you keep engagement rewarding for your employers when demands on industry are at a premium?

Most importantly, stay positive!

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