• EDT

Dr Wai Yi Feng partners with EDT Education Director to measure the Impact of employer engagement pro

Young people require good quality education and careers advice when making informed decisions about their future so that that they can be inspired and explore future possibilities, as well as have enough time to obtain the skills that they require. As a result, employers play an important role when creating partnerships with schools and colleges to raise ambition and achievement. While employment engagement programmes have been pursued over the years, there has always been some difficulty in demonstrating benefit to the student and to the company involved.

Dr Wai Yi Feng has been undertaking research at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education to shed more light on the impact of different programme designs, and to help schools and companies decide which design of workplace experience-based employer engagement might best suit them. For much of the practical testing, Dr Feng has been working closely with our Education Director, Mark Williams.

The research consisted of two stages. Stage 1 of Dr Feng’s research was around a framework for understanding ‘STEM enrichment’ as well as a typology of ‘enrichment impact’. Focusing on the impact of enrichment on participating students, the outcome can be split into five broad types:

1) Support for learning in school 2) Enhanced understanding of STEM topics or disciplines 3) Development of skills and learning processes 4) Personal and social development 5) Gaining insights into STEM related study or careers

In stage 2 of Dr Feng’s research, she has demonstrated how a questionnaire can be developed to explore the impact within these five areas in order to summarise the amount of impact attributed to each individual facet, and to each of the five impact types. This enables an impact profile for the engagement programme to be developed.

Implications

Dr Feng’s research shows comparative impact of programmes as well as having practical implications such as whether students of different gender or background report different experiences from participating in the same programme. This will enable companies to look further into diversity issues and whether it is being addressed appropriately. Also, some programmes are run in different locations, so student’s experiences may not be the same even though they have taken part in the same programme. This can offer companies the opportunity to benchmark delivery of a single programme across different locations, and to see how different locations or mentors affect the impact of the programme.

Mark Williams says “The results from Dr Feng’s STEM diagnostic tool gives invaluable insight and information to schools and employers about the impact of curriculum enrichment programmes and how to further develop and modify activities to maximise skills development and enhance careers awareness. Young people deserve all we can do for them to ensure they realise their potential and are empowered with the knowledge required to make informed career pathway decisions.”

Dr Feng’s research is still in the early stages, but this is a great start to the development of a better understanding of how employer engagement programmes deliver impact. Having the ability to quantify impact from programmes offers many benefits to companies and careers advisors in schools and colleges, and results in HR professionals within companies to demonstrate the value of employer engagement programmes.

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