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The employer conundrum: reaching a more diverse group of students

31 / 03 / 2021Fiona Doherty

When it comes to early careers programmes, engaging with and hiring a diverse range of students is a priority for the majority of organisations in 2021 and beyond. Here at GTI, we have seen first-hand how difficult it can be for employers to target – and successfully reach – a specific demographic of students, particularly those who are in the minority. For example, government figures published in October 2020 show that Black, Asian and other ethnic minority students account for just 22.6% of the student population in further education. 

We won’t lie to you: it’s not as simple as ticking a box and sending a quick email on your behalf to all of the students in our database who belong to the demographic you’re trying to reach. Students do not always want to disclose personal details, such as their ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability, when they register with careers websites such as ours.

Despite these challenges, GTI has seen some success in connecting our clients with a diverse range of students through our careers platform TARGETjobs. Take Cummins, for example. Between October 2020 and February 2021, 72% of all click-throughs from TARGETjobs through to their advertised vacancies were from Black, Asian and ethnic minority students. And 40% were from female students – a particularly high figure for an engineering and technology company. 

How did we do it?

We think Cummins’ success with these students on TARGETjobs is a result of three things coming together:

  1. GTI’s large reach – with over 1.4 million student members and 11 million unique visits to our websites each year, we can tell you with confidence that GTI supports the largest network of students in the UK and Ireland.
  2. Cummins’ openness about its diverse and inclusive history – from the awards it has won, to its former chairman marching with Martin Luther King, to its Global Leadership Representation programme, that supports the development of female and minority employees.
  3. The expertise and support of GTI’s customer success and content teams – we arranged weekly catch-ups to provide progress reports and offered suggestions on how to best get Cummins’ messaging across (see below for more details).

How can we help others replicate this success?

It’s safe to say we have a continual conundrum on our hands: the disconnect between employers that want to attract and retain diverse talent for their organisations and students who a) often do not want to be targeted in that way and b) are more perceptive and, dare we say, sceptical than ever before. You can count on students reading diversity and inclusion statements with a critical eye.

However, we have some services and products that will help – including white papers, webinars, virtual events and market research.

  • The customer success team at GTI is here to guide you on your messaging. For Cummins, that meant recommending student-facing webinars and events run by TARGETjobs for them to participate in; advising on the wording of their diversity statement; producing a series of ‘Life at Cummins’ videos on their behalf; creating bespoke, co-written articles around their core values; and supplementing all of the above with social media posts and emails. 
  • We run a number of TARGETjobs events each year, connecting students and employers. These are often aimed at specific demographics, including IT’s not just for the boys! and Future Female Engineers, which help employers to meet more female STEM students. Our event for Black heritage students, Aspire, will be held for the second time on 23 April. 
  • Our quarterly Breakfast News event for early careers professionals tackles a different topic each time. In July 2020, it was ‘An Issue That Matters,’ delving into what the student recruitment industry can do to support racial justice. You can read the full write-up of this event here.
  • Our student market research team, Cibyl (formerly known as Trendence), can help inform employers’ diversity and inclusion strategies – whether that’s using information from its annual national surveys or creating your own bespoke research project. Most recently, Cibyl delivered a webinar on increasing diversity in the tech industry. And, as the research partner for GTI’s Breakfast News, it ran a survey on racial justice and student recruitment for the July 2020 event. 

To learn more about our products and services, along with how we can help get in touch here.


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