Placer: diversifying the workforce through work experience
For many employers, improving workforce diversity and inclusion has become a fundamental long-term business objective. Yet, to tackle the issue of diversity head on, employers need to unlock opportunities for young people and build a diverse workforce from the outset. This all starts with work experience.
Breaking down barriers
Research from the National Centre for Universities and Business reveals organisations cite word-of-mouth as the key channel to accessing work experience applicants. With internships or work placements being the key ingredient to developing work-ready graduates, businesses taking this approach exclude students without family connections, outside of exclusive networks, or based in remote locations. This method also risks diminishing the pool of talent at this critical first rung on the career ladder.
Confronting this problem is what Placer is all about. The National Centre for Universities and Business, Jisc and Unite Students, have come together in partnership to develop a work experience app and platform which connects employers offering work experience opportunities directly with students. By creating a platform where businesses can advertise placements publicly and transparently, we can offer access to a diverse pool of student talent and help better ensure young people are recruited on merit rather than on a ‘who-you-know’ basis.
Opportunities for all
Using matchmaking technology, Placer also reduces unconscious bias by matching students with employers based on their interests and skills alone.
Placer does this in two ways; firstly, it levels the playing field for the student as employers’ shortlist candidates based on their potential, not their past. Secondly, presenting employers to students in the same way, it enables students to look beyond familiar big brand names, and learn where their skills and interests fit with employers and SMEs they may not have previously heard of or considered.
Recruiting diverse work experience talent also benefits young people, enabling a wider range of students to develop essential workplace skills. Work experience exposes undergraduates to a workplace culture, shapes essential employability skills such as communication, self-motivation and time management, and builds vital employer relationships. And using Placer, employers can carve out a work experience offer that’s right for their organisation.
It’s encouraging to see more and more employers recognising the business benefits of having a range of voices around the table but there’s always more work to do. While many businesses are recognising that talking about diversity is not enough, all employers need to act to implement work experience programmes that attract and retain a diverse talent from the outset, or risk falling behind.
If you’re an employer looking to offer work experience, or you already do, find out more and register with Placer placer.co.uk/employers
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About the author:
David Barker, social entrepreneur and Project Director of Placer, has long been a supporter of improving social mobility. As one of the UK’s first internet entrepreneurs, David has carved out a successful career in tech over the years, however his latest project – Placer – combines his passion for tech and innovation with his personal interest in widening opportunities for young people. The goal of Placer is to engage with students and employers, at scale, to create better access to employment opportunities and level the playing field for the next generation, through the power of technology. Born into a working-class background in Manchester and having to rely on state benefits to survive, David is acutely aware that the work-based opportunities he’s had helped him find freedom from poverty.