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5 insights to shape student engagement

19 September 2019

5 insights to shape student engagement

Rob Lancashire of U-Explore took to the stage at our annual student recruitment survey launch to share the findings of their latest study on how school and college students approach careers.

This year’s Start Annual Student Survey was a partnership between U-Explore, The Guardian Jobs and ISE members using the careers platform Involving more than 13,000 11-18 year olds, it collects in excess of 680,000 answers to questions about careers, study and skills. 

Data is aligned to a set of personas to improve understanding and interpretation of the survey findings, building a bank of useful insights that can help employers fine tune some of their messages for school and college students. Here we share five key insights:


1. Reduced interest in apprenticeships 

Staying in education was still the most popular pathway and apprenticeship popularity dropped: 

  • Further and higher education remained still first choice 
  • Interest in starting an apprenticeship has dropped from 11% of students in 2018 to 9% in 2019 
  • Only 29% of students thought that their parents would be happy with them doing an apprenticeship. Importantly, 54% answered that they “don’t know” – which is a much higher proportion to those considering higher education.


2. Industry interest and awareness is narrow 

Students generally consider a narrow set of industries for their preferred jobs, which are influenced by what’s popular on television and the occupations of family and friends.

They identified their top jobs as designer, business manager, doctor or nurse, which were closely aligned to their top industries of health and social care, creative and media, and education.


3. Students are prepared to travel for their careers

Students were more willing to travel the higher their qualification aspirations were. This means that regional engagement strategies will be more effective for GCSE-level positions while national engagement strategies will be more effective for degree / masters-level positions.


4. Employer engagement increases confidence

Engagement comes in a variety of forms – from work experience to careers fairs. The survey found that amongst the group of students that had not taken part in any form of employer encounter, only one in three felt confident about their future job prospects. This figure rose to two in three for those students reporting at least six employer encounters.


5. Money talks… but it’s not everything

When it cam to what motivated students in their career decisions, salary came out as the number one priority, but a good work/life balance was also very high. We found that this balance was more important for our ‘Creative’ personas, so tailoring messaging is important.  

Rob will explain this study in more depth in the autumn issue of The Student Employer, out in October.