Attracting, developing and retaining talent
On graduating, 46% of our students remain in the North West and we work closely with our own ‘top 100’ employers, over half of whom have offices in LCR. We saturate our programmes with opportunities to enhance student employability using a three-stranded approach: curricular provision of employable skills, working for employers and employer connections.
We have been instrumental in setting up ULMAS, a Department for Education-funded sixth form Mathematics specialist school located close to the University. ULMAS has recruited 80 A-level pupils to study subjects such as Maths, Further Maths and Physics, and is the third such school in the UK, the first in the North West, and a hub for the most able young mathematicians in our region. Student recruitment is guided by our Widening Participation team and will offer opportunities to gifted and talented students from underprivileged backgrounds. ULMAS will also work in partnership with local schools to boost maths standards across the region and will provide professional development programmes for maths teachers.
Curricular provision of employable skills
Our Education Strategy supports our students as they become creative and culturally rich graduates, with the capacity to find employment that will enable them to be agents for change in a connected world. We set tasks to mirror those of a graduate-level professional, and work closely with employers to provide real-world projects and problems. Assessments incorporate skills that employers value, and we run industrial liaison boards with representatives from local companies to keep up to date with employer needs.
Skills development is embedded throughout our programmes. For example, in Computer Science a first year module is delivered with North West digital companies including Ivanti, Ambersail, Sci-Tech and Cleversteam. The employers set authentic assessments, inform teaching and deliver lectures. In an increasingly globalised world, we help prepare our first year Mathematical Science students for working remotely with technology and honing communication skills to overcome language barriers. Students speak with their counterparts at our sister University in China, XJTLU, to understand each other’s currency and develop a computer programme that allocates the correct change following a cash transaction. The Chinese students join the University of Liverpool for their second year so this activity supports integration and the development of global citizenship.
Working for employers
Final year Mathematics students work closely with Liverpool-based Shop Direct who set projects relating directly to their own strategy and business needs, allowing students to apply their mathematical knowledge to solve real-world problems. One task involved data from customer website interactions. Students analysed the data to identify behavioural trends and make recommendations to gain more ‘high value’ customers, which they formally presented to senior Shop Direct figures.
We are one of only three Universities to receive undergraduate sponsorship from Scottish Power (who are committed to Zero Carbon Communities in Liverpool). First year students can apply to the Power Academy, and successful applicants are financially sponsored for their remaining years of study, and are guaranteed summer placements and entry to the Scottish Power graduate scheme. All of our current sponsored students are from the North West region.
We offer a range of summer placements in collaboration with local employers such as Alder Hey Children's Hospital, where students have devised new methods of labelling vials, an app for junior doctor shadowing and an app for finding medical equipment.
Our ‘Year in Industry’ programmes include up to 15 months spent working in companies, many of which are in our region.
Case study: Computer Science graduate Jake James
BSc (Hons) Computer Science graduate Jake James spent a year working in the University’s Computing Services Department, with a focus on project management. He currently works for Liverpool SME Yozu and contributes to University events aimed at potential and current students.
“There are so many good things I could say about my industrial placement,” says Jake. “Having the opportunity to get a flavour of working in the industry gave me the motivation and drive for my final year of study. Alongside developing new skills and meeting a variety of people, my placement enhanced everything I’d learned throughout my course, equipping me with industry specific knowledge and a greater understanding as to how I could apply what I’d learned to real-life projects. The knowledge and experience that I gained was invaluable, giving me confidence in my abilities and preparing me for the industry. Shortly after graduation, I started a new role as a Project Manager with a software development company in Liverpool. Without that one year placement, I wouldn’t have the experience, confidence or skill to be working in this role at this stage in my career.”
All of our students can access interactive employability summits and events, involving alumni and recruiters from local companies. These generate internships, placements, joint real-world projects and graduate opportunities.
As part of the national EEF/Wellcome-funded ASCENTS project, 53 of our undergraduate students mentor pupils in local schools. These weekly one-to-one sessions provide subject specific support to raise attainment in GCSE science and our students become STEM role models within the community, and simultaneously master a suite of skills highly valued by employers.
Case study: Mechanical Engineering with Management graduate Megan Stammers
Megan Stammers (MEng Mechanical Engineering with Management 2018) is a Graduate Engineer at Rolls-Royce. She founded the University’s annual Engineering Alumni Networking Event, which this year saw more than 200 students engage with recent graduates.
Megan worked with School of Engineering staff to create the event, and says that she wanted to “bring together engineering alumni to educate, inspire and showcase the careers that are available to University of Liverpool Engineers.” Representatives from over 40 companies attended in the first year, including Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems and Aston Martin (featuring a concept car).
Since graduating, Megan has mentored and assisted current students in organising the event, and attended to represent Rolls-Royce. In her role at Rolls-Royce, Megan has represented the company at Careers Fairs, STEM events and team events. She says: “Without the experience I gained at University, I wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to be selected as one of the eight graduates worldwide who organised the Rolls-Royce Excellence Awards, our annual awards ceremony held in London to celebrate the achievements of employees globally.”
Science Jamboree project
In November, students from across the University deliver science related sessions for 300 Beavers, Cubs, Brownies and Rainbows from Merseyside and Cheshire. These sessions allow the young visitors to gain their science-related activity badges. Involvement in the project allows undergraduates to flex their imagination, develop their self-management and communication skills and gain an entry into their Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).