Our ‘Take 5’ employability campaign – which aimed to attract and prepare university students for our internship programme – was prompted by my awareness that employers felt that students were lacking in skills, while the students didn’t understand what skills they were expected to have.
When I was on campus a couple of years ago, students were saying: “I don’t know whether I’m able to apply – I don’t know if I’ve got the skills you need. I’ve had a part-time job, but I’ve never had an internship.”
We needed to create a more informed dialogue between students and employers and to give students a greater self-awareness about the skills they had, in addition to their degree. We were looking at where their other experiences could be matched with our competencies to complement their academic experiences.
It was on that basis that we decided to build a campaign that we thought would be of some substance on campus.
The campaign is about students taking five minutes to learn something new, and to understand that new experiences can enrich their application. It’s about them reflecting on their experiences. Hence the theme of employability, and in particular, the booklet on Ten ways to improve your employability.
On the campaign website, there are six employability videos, so that students can match their own experiences to our competencies. This means that when they’re asked, for instance, for examples of when they’ve worked as part of a team, they can answer.
We appreciate that not every student we try to get the message across to will apply to work with us, but as a responsible employer, we feel that we want to work with universities, and with students, to raise the bar in terms of their skills.
We launched the campaign in October 2008. Since then, applications have risen by 42%, and attendance at campus events has doubled. According to feedback, we are still the employer of choice for most students. Anecdotally, students are finding it useful. And we’ve noticed an increase in the quality of the candidates, and the responses they’re coming back with. We think the campaign has helped them.
Why it worked…
We listened to our stakeholders
We planned our campaign to suit them
We thought long-term
Sonja Stockton, head of student recruitment, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers UK