Employer Engagement

Employer Engagement – Employers are from Mars, schools are from Venus

Employer Engagement - Employers are from Mars, schools are from Venus

Friday 18th July 2014

Yesterday I attended a meeting/workshop which was a gathering of representatives of careers guidance stakeholders. There was a vast cross-section of people. Corporate HR/talent management, companies that provide services for the needs of schools, head teacher's associations and those with the ears of the government. I'm sure I missed some sections out simply because I didn't meet everyone in attendance.

I had a very interesting conversation with one particular lady I met, (I did warn her that she might well be the subject of a blog) which revolved around the needs and expectations of employers and schools when undertaking joint activities. She is involved in a local enterprise partnership (LEP) and had a whole raft of stories to tell which basically boiled down to schools want things all their own way. Thus followed a discussion on schools feeling that employers don't understand school's needs and thus schools think employers want it all their own way.

We countered each other with examples.

  • Being left in reception for over an hour and then being told they'd forgotten she was coming
  • Being left totally alone with a mildly uncooperative class with no staff present
  • Not having emails requesting details of arrangements or requests for information responded to


  • Employers that expect to be able to organise visits or speakers within totally unrealistic timeframes for schools. (How about this Thursday?)
  • Last minute cancellations so that the speaker can visit a client. (No we understand that you need to make money but we'd like more than an hour's notice)
  • Unprepared and boring speakers who have no interest in being in the school but have been told to attend.

So this conversation stirred an idea that's been floating around my desk on a post it note with the words EMPLOYER ENGAGEMENT written on it for a number of weeks. It's been fairly near the top of my to do list for a while but the sheer amount of work that I'm doing for schools and companies has made sure it's not quite got to the top of the list.

I've kept this section deliberately loose as I'd be interested to know what thoughts people from both sides of the fence would see as good practice when arranging employer engagement sessions. I'm pretty sure that if there were a simple toolkit to be used when organising sessions then both schools and employers would find the process easier.

Identify what you, and employers want from the employer engagement session

  • Format - visit, workshop, talk etc
  • Subject
  • What are your objectives for both parties?

What are the participant roles?

  • Employers are not teachers & shouldn't be expected to be, but how can schools support effective delivery without over burdening employers?

Physical preparation

  • Do all parties know where, when, duration, how many attendees and what tech is available/needed?
  • Are room booking, refreshments and toilet facilities in place?
  • Child protection requirements addressed?


  • What systems are in place to ensure communication is briefly consolidated in one place to save misunderstandings? (I hate having to scroll through emails to remind myself of arrangements)

What happens after?

  • Evaluation by school staff, pupils and employers
  • Thank you arrangements (They didn't have to do it did they?)

So come on. What would you add. take away, include?