How can technology help institutions attract and retain student talent?

SPONSORED: Malcolm Paice, Managing Director of Keystone Talent Bank, explains how modern technology can accelerate an institution’s drive to nurture, develop and retain their student talent

Universities are increasingly turning to technological innovations to improve the employability and retention of their student base.

Now, perhaps more than ever before, higher education institutions are committing greater time and energy to augmenting their academic offering with employability services and other added-value offerings to help retain their students while also providing them with more real-world skills and competencies.

Helping students ‘earn while they learn’ is, of course, a key part of student retention – providing additional funds and boosting their employability and work experience in one fell swoop. There is a reason so many universities are choosing to offer as many temporary work placements as possible to their own students as opposed to using agency staff.

If students know they have multiple opportunities throughout the academic year to undertake paid research work, student ambassador and other on-campus roles, then they are more likely to stay the distance, while simultaneously improving their employability skills upon graduation.

Online talent bank
Of course, with thousands of students on campus, a myriad of opportunities and issues such as worker compliance, tracking hours and monitoring activity to manage it can appear a daunting task. This is where technology kicks in to do the heavy lifting.

An online talent bank makes it easy for students to register for opportunities across campus that match their skills, interests and studies. Automated compliance tools, online timesheets and working hour controls make light work of ensuring the whole process is accountable, compliant and not labour intensive. Placing the whole solution online and available 24/7 meets student expectations of such services being available digitally and conveniently, wherever they are. Engagement needs to be simple, intuitive and accessible.

Accessible and measurable
Aside from making student employability and retention more accessible, technology makes it dramatically more measurable. Never before has it been so easy to report on every single piece of engagement, with complete granularity on which students are engaging in work experience, where, when and at what rates.

Interested in understanding how Widening Participation students are engaging with work experience opportunities versus other groups? Need to get a greater insight into the different behaviours of seeking and engaging with work opportunities among different study types, gender or equal opportunities groups? Want to know how interested big employers are in your STEM students due to graduate next year? Need to measure the retention rate of students who gain work experience versus those who don’t? It is all just data. And not only can data help shape your student retention activity, it can also enrich your prospectus and demonstrate in tangible terms just how engaged your student talent is and how that improves their chances of employment post-graduation.

If student employability activity is being handled via spreadsheets, pieces of paper and other such analogue tools, it is most likely far harder to gain an empirical understanding of who is doing what, where and when and what the outcomes are. It will almost certainly be a huge manual effort to gain that insight, which is why having all that data in one place and available in rich, granular management information can radically change the way an institution approaches student employability and retention.

Keystone Talent Bank comprises a complete online set of services for universities to offer on- and off-campus work opportunities to students with a full suite of compliance, management and reporting tools.

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