AGR Student Recruitment Conference 6th – 8th June 2017

BPP have recently attended the latest AGR conference that took place last month. Some topical themes that arose from the day included social mobility and diversity of learners.

Caroline Evans, Head of Client Development at BPP attended this session said “It was a great day, with a diverse mix of employers and providers in attendance.  The subject of the student experience on Degree Apprenticeships was covered in some depth and many different perspectives shared.  Amongst the key discussion points were the challenges of managing the wellbeing of young learners in the workplace and how providers and employers need to work together to make sure this is a priority for any programme, as well as the subject of whether and how a Degree Apprenticeship should strive to echo the “traditional” university experience. The consensus was that this is, in fact, not what learners are looking for from the programmes and that learners who choose the Degree Apprenticeship route often do so precisely because they are looking for an alternative to the traditional academic route.  We also discussed the challenges of Degree Apprenticeships from a provider perspective, amongst which were the need for HEIs to manage multiple, complex stakeholder relationships that are inherent in the delivery of DAs, and also the complexity of the application process, and whether there should be a centralised service to support this, like the traditional UCAS system.  All in all, it was a very useful day and an opportunity to share experiences, challenges and ideas around the delivery of these very exciting programmes”

Other highlights include:

1# There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Baroness Floella Benjamin brought delegates to their feet with a personal and emotive speech on facing adversity followed by a rendition of Nat King Cole’s Smile.

Becoming a household name by presenting Play School in the 1970s, Baroness Floella Benjamin went on to receive an OBE and BAFTA Special Lifetime Award.  Elevated to the House of Lords as a life peer, she now leads on children’s issues in parliament.

Baroness Benjamin opened day two of the conference with a call for employers and universities to engage with children at primary school to help build confidence and bridge the social mobility gap:

This conference is about a subject close to my heart – making a difference to my world, which means to be all embracing, to bridge the social mobility gap.

I see many of my Play School babies here today. During those days I learned the value of childhood. The early years are so important as childhood lasts a lifetime. We have to make children feel loved and wanted, have the confidence to make them be able to stand up for what they believe in and to take on the world.

Universities and employers have to go into schools to bridge the social mobility gap early, leaving it until sixth form is too late. Talk to children from primary school and into years eight and nine, when they are mapping out their career paths. Show them how to be work ready, how to feel good about themselves. 

We need to build confidence in our children. Confidence eradicates fear of the unknown and of failure. It is the main ingredient to success and happiness. We make a difference when we are confident about whom we are. If we don’t encourage all of our young people to reach for he sky, we're missing out on talent.”

2# Darius Norell talked neuroscience and called for delegates to reimagine recruitment as he led an engaging and practical session on the science of inclusion.

While we may feel more effective in homogeneous groups, we tend to perform better in diverse groups.”

Darius championed the benefits of diversity and shared a framework that is helping recruiters improve their processes, to recruit better people who stay longer and are happier:

The SCARF model (Rock, 2008) captures neuroscience discoveries about social interaction. Darius lead delegates through the model to encourage thinking about how it could be applied to reimagine recruitment and improve diversity in the workplace.


STATUS: Relative importance – less than or better than others

  • What can you do to create more equal status between you and the candidate?
  • How might the recruitment process be different if you gave the candidate higher status than you?

CERTAINTY: Ability to predict outcomes

  • How much clarity can you give about the process, timeline, what you are looking for and how you will be making the decision?

AUTONOMY: A Sense of control over events

  • How can a candidate exercise their autonomy?
  • How could you give the candidate more control over the recruitment process?

RELATEDNESS: A sense of safety with others – in-group or out-group

  • How can you build the depth and quality of the relationships you have with candidates at scale?
  • What would a more human(e) recruitment process look like?

FAIRNESS: Perception of fair exchange

  • What would a fairer process look like?
  • How can you design a process that delivers as much value for the candidate as it does for you?