Lower Sixth Gain Graduate Recruitment Insight in Transform Society Day

Getting top graduate jobs takes a lot of effort, and learning about the processes that recruiters use is one of the key parts of our Sixth Form careers education and transition programme. James Darley, who has over 25 years’ experience in graduate recruitment and is widely recognised as one of the leading figures in the sector, led the Lower Sixth through a ‘Transform Society’ challenge, simulating some of the activities used by graduate and degree apprenticeship recruiters.

The context for the day was addressing the issues of homelessness in our society, while undertaking tasks typical of graduate/internship recruitment assessment centres and developing transferable skills that employers look for in the process. Some 250,000 people are currently experiencing some degree of homelessness in the UK; this clearly represents a profound societal challenge.  

After an introduction to some key trends in graduate and internship recruitment there was a thought-provoking presentation about the socio-economic factors impacting homelessness from Ben Scher, a DPhil student at the University of Oxford undertaking research in this area. Ben prompted the students to consider the complex web of factors that push people into homelessness and the extreme practical difficulties of bringing help to often marginalised people. Students then worked in House teams to develop solutions to a challenge brief set by one of three invited charities: Crisis, New Hope Watford, and Wycombe Homeless Connection. In the afternoon, students also attended a session where they road tested some of the ‘gamified’ tools that are used by companies to shortlist applicants.  One student reflecting on the day said In a world with greater and greater competition for jobs, the day provided some valuable insights on employability prospects and what recruiters are looking for. By being asked to come up with solutions to issues around homelessness, we refined the “soft skills” that are so vital to life in the workplace. A particularly interesting part in the afternoon was understanding the increasingly important role of online assessments as a result of student access to AI in CVs and covering letters”. 

A substantial chunk of the day involved the teams developing a presentation in response to a brief. The teams held information-gathering meetings with the charities’ representatives as they worked to further their understanding of these complex issues and devise practical solutions. All this occurred whilst being observed and assessed on a range of transferrable skills demonstrating organisation, communication, creativity, problem solving and research. Finally, each team made a presentation and fielded questions from an expert panel who whittled the teams down to two finalists. After a final round of presentations, the winner, Walter House, was announced. 

Feedback from the students on the personal impact of the event indicates it has significantly increased their awareness of both the reasons for and solutions to homelessness. They felt that their awareness of the processes employers use to recruit for university internships and graduate jobs had improved, as well as increasing the number of boys who would be likely to consider a career in the public services sector. 

“Friday's Field Day was truly inspiring. One of the highlights for me was working on the campaign addressing homelessness and advocating against the criminal justice bill. It was a powerful experience to have real-life contribution to such an important cause and see the passion and dedication of everyone involved. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of it.” 

“Working alongside delegates from charities like New Hope and Crisis Watford, our Field Day provided a nice overlap between exploring ongoing issues in our local area, as well as developing and showcasing our interpersonal skills. We thank those who made the day possible.” 

We would like to send huge thanks to James Darley, to Ben Scher and the amazing charity representatives for their support in making this such an impactful day. 

Mrs S Grice ( Head of Careers)

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