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What we learned from the ISE Recruitment Conference 2019

11 July 2019

SE Chair Deborah McCormack

Our summer recruitment conference offered collaboration, community and inspiration. ISE Chair Deborah McCormack reflects on what she gained.

We all attend a conference like this wearing a number of different hats. But whether you’re an employer, educator or supplier, we are all delegates investing some time away from our day jobs to learn, contribute, and I hope, be inspired by the ISE community.
 
Although I attend in my role as ISE Chair (for the first time this year), I also take a ‘delegate’s eye view’ of the content. And increasingly, as a parent, I’m also thinking of what’s relevant for my children’s future. 
 
Over the last two days two common themes emerged to myself, as well as others I have spoken to, namely, collaboration and community.


Conference highlights

‘Challenge your natural tendency to ‘familiarity bias’ and step out of your comfort zone of competence’, was the gauntlet thrown down by world-record holding adventurer Mark Beaumont as he told his amazing story of super-human endurance. Mark’s not aiming for the incremental, marginal gains, he’s smashing it, and encouraged us to do the same.
 
Mark rightly pointed out that whatever our role, we can add value, not just by what we do, but by who we are and how we go about our business.
 
In the context of constant and dynamic change, and the role the ISE has in supporting members to make some sense of that change, Mark’s point really resonated.
 
As the ISE we can be greater than the sum of our individual parts when we come together as the voice of our industry on something as complex as apprenticeships or to share best practice on diversity and inclusion strategy.
 
Mark reinforced many of the points touched on by Tom Ravenscroft from Enabling Enterprise and also the educator and employer panel.
 
Our panellists discussed the right mix of academic results, soft skills and motivation. BecomingX founder, Paul Gurney, added ‘attributes’ and ‘relationships’ to that mix.
 
While the exact recipe may be slightly different for each organisation and role we recruit into or for, we need to be cautious not to lose sight that our early talent are not the finished article.
 
By definition interns, graduates and apprentices are hired to learn and develop. While it’s right that we have high expectations as they make that shift from education to the work place, it’s also right that we continue to influence our organisations and government to invest in their development longer term.
 
Entrepreneur Mo Issap talked about career being a lifelong journey, and that we should be less transactional and more organic in our approach to careers advice and learning and development.

 

Wider implications

In his opening session on HE policy, Andy Westwood from The University of Manchester, illustrated the impact failure to invest in our talent is having on the UK’s productivity, employee engagement and economy when compared to our global counterparts. 
 
If his insights were fairly depressing to most of us, to quote Yazz, ‘The only way is up!’, and our sector is well placed to positively influence increased engagement and productivity if we recruit and develop from a more diverse talent pool.
 
Social mobility and skills were touched on by many of our speakers, and there was agreement that common terminology and metrics would be useful best practice to adopt. 
 
As mentioned by Tom and Mo, if we all speak the same language on skills development and if we all agree on the measures we should use to identify disadvantage, we can demystify these areas and stand a better chance of expediting progress. Collaboration is key to making that happen and the ISE is well placed to steer that conversation.
 
In an uncertain political and economic climate it is right that we are pragmatic on both a macro and micro level. We should be linking education policy and the industrial strategy far more directly and proactively. 
 
As employers and educators we should be collaborating even more effectively in the educational career journey of tomorrow’s talent and there were many inspiring examples offered at conference that I will be considering back at base. We will be sharing some of these in the ISE magazine and blog over the coming months. 
 
For me, collaboration as part of the ISE community is how we will create the ecosystem of opportunity and realise the individual and organisational potential that we are all striving for in our day jobs and personally. 
 
I’m inspired that when we come together we can learn a great deal from each other and have capacity to develop even more creative collaboration within our ISE community. 
 
Until next time, please get involved with our online community by logging into the member area of ise.org.uk and we hope to see you at our next event coming up in the autumn.