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What’s next for Further Education recruitment in 2017?

Friday, 17 February 2017

2017 is set to be the year of change for Further Education, as the government proceeds with its aims to solve the UK’s skills shortage with strategic training courses for 16-18 year olds.

In response to a desperate need for an alternative to the traditional academic university path, fit for the 21st century, Apprenticeships and Professional and Technical Education are set to be the revolutionary tools by which we empower our young people to succeed and fortify our economy for the forthcoming decades.

Much more responsibility too will fall upon the colleges and local councils as the Adult Education Budget is decentralised by 2018. So what changes should colleges be ready for in 2017?

Marketing will become a vital business function for colleges to attract students, corporate links and teaching staff.

By 2019-20 the Apprenticeships Levy is expected to have brought in £2.5 billion for adult education. All employers in the UK with a pay bill of more than three million pounds annually will have to pay towards the scheme. Not only will this compensate for some of the lost funding that currently comes from the European Union, but it will encourage the large companies themselves to offer apprenticeships to recoup their spending and grow talent from within.

For colleges, marketing will become a more critical business function as they work to attract students, links with large companies and the high-quality lecturers and teaching staff needed for the job.

Marketing teams and recruitment teams will continue to overlap and work closely, marketing to candidates more strategically. It’s no secret that recruitment marketing has arrived, and within a candidate-driven marketplace, recruitment has become a proactive driver rather than a reactive business function.

AS colleges merge they will need expert recruitment and HR support.

Colleges are expected to decrease in number but increase significantly in size this year as a result of mergers. Richard Atkins, the FE Commissioner stated that he expects around a third of the current FE Colleges to be absorbed into larger organisations, leaving round 170 College groups or trusts.

We can also expect sixth form colleges to take advantage of the tax exemption of converting to an academy, slashing their VAT bill by an average £317,000 each annually[1]. Many will move into existing Multi-Academy Trusts or form their own to benefit from shared resources and centralised recruitment and marketing functions.

As a result, colleges, academies and trusts will take on significant new recruitment and personnel responsibilities to manage their restructures, using expert HR advice to minimise inefficiencies and ensure cost effectiveness.

Colleges who have anticipated this business need by investing in specialist advice and technology can compete more readily for the best lecturers and teachers. Competing establishments with strong employer branding such as a career site, electronic application options and candidate management systems will be able to move quickly between interview stages and secure their new team member quickly. The ease and quality of the job seeking experience will bear strongly upon which school ultimately secures the most valuable talent.

Part of this investment will result in a shift to online and mobile recruitment for staff, in line with admissions for students.

Investment in technology will increase

Technology is cost effective threefold for colleges firstly because it allows for helpful streamlining of infrastructure functions such human resourcing. In this web-based career market, HR software and technologies can play a large part in improving the efficiency of attracting and acquiring the right candidates.

Secondly, technology facilitates the networking required to share resources between MAT and group partner colleges, to align processes and save money.

Thirdly, it opens the college up for online courses and blended delivery courses - a critical offering if colleges are going to compete for corporate links and professional students.

So insightful results will be a budgeting priority

“Big Data” has already consumed a number of business departments, and internal processes such as recruitment are next.

There is now such a quantity of historical data about the results of college spending on necessitates such as recruitment that it is possible to quantifiably evaluate the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of every talent acquisition strategy thus far, and use it to inform future budget decisions. ATS platforms, such as School Recruiter for the education sector, which calculates the return on investment for each advert or the cost-per-head of the talent acquired, are expected to be a sought-after necessity in the coming recruitment era. To protect budgets, it would be difficult to make new HR decisions responsibly without the influence of those results.

In April 2017 the Institute for Apprenticeships will evolve into the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, which will be responsible for overseeing the quality of Apprenticeships delivered. Ofsted has also indicated that it may consider beginning inspections for ‘Outstanding’ Further Education Colleges again to rigorously maintain the expected standards of output during such a time of growth. It is therefore more important than ever that colleges take control and apply expert knowledge and advice to business functions where they can.

At the speed at which Further Education is evolving, it’s more important than ever to have an effective recruitment strategy. FEjobs.com is a great place to start.

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