11 July 2024 YU Conference: Overcoming employer challenges and championing graduates across Yorkshire

What are we doing (or could we be doing) to create an environment graduates can thrive in, and contribute towards the economy of Yorkshire? How are we responding to challenges and opportunities together? What works?

At the 11 July conference, we’re focussing on the uniqueness of Yorkshire Universities’ (YU) mission, positioning, networks, and partnership activity, designed to support local and regional economic development policy and strategy that can have an impact on the opportunities available for graduates. We’re inviting:

  • Employers and employer organisations to speak about their experience incl. the challenges and the barriers they are facing as well as the successes they’re having when acquiring talent and working with universities in the region.
  • Students and graduates to speak about the successes and difficulties they’ve experienced when engaging with employers and what helped.
  • Professional staff and leaders from higher education & local/combined authorities to speak about how they’re creating opportunities and developing solutions together to enable graduates to stay and thrive across the region.

This event showcases the work of YU’s Graduate Talent workstream that is in the second year of operationalising the shared priorities of the Supporting Graduate Employment and Employability in Yorkshire report. The conference aims to encourage further collaboration among the key stakeholders in order to shape the future work of YU. Find out more about the YU Graduate Talent workstream here


09:30 – 10:00 Arrivals & registration

10:00 – 10:15 Opening message and welcome to Sheffield Hallam University

Professor Liz Mossop, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University and member of the Yorkshire Universities Board. Liz’s opening message will note the value of graduates to South Yorkshire, and more widely to the Yorkshire & Humber region. She will reference the distinct set of institutions who are members of Yorkshire Universities, their profiles and profiles of students across the region.

10:15 – 11:15 Panel one: What are the challenges businesses face when hiring graduates?
Chaired by Professor Tim Thornton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield and Chair of the Yorkshire Universities Graduate Implementation Group (GIG)

The Graduate Implementation Group (GIG) is an oversight and advisory group that was established to help operationalise the shared priorities and recommendations as agreed in the Supporting Graduate Employment and Employability in Yorkshire report. Where possible, the GIG aims to build on existing activity, amplify common messages and advocate for shared learning among the YU member institutions.

Panel speakers:

  • Martin Dickson, Leeds Business Improvement District (BID)
  • Paul Thorpe, Employer Engagement Advisor, Aura Innovation Centre, University of Hull
  • Ben Louden, Head of Studio at Viridian FX in York
  • Adam Bennett, Founder, Stick & Glass Ltd.
  • Esther Kent, Director of Employability and Student Futures, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Rory Duncan, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation, Sheffield Hallam University  

Audience Q&A

11:15 – 11:30 Break

11:30 – 12:30 Panel two: How can we retain international graduates who come to study here?
Chaired by Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice-Chancellor of York St John University and Chair of the Yorkshire Universities Board

Karen has led the multi-stakeholder task and finish group who produced the Supporting Graduate Employment and Employability in Yorkshire report and supported the production of YU Statement on International HE. The refreshed YU Inclusive Recruitment Guide for Employers will be relaunched during this panel.

Panel speakers:

  • Helen Bradley, Careers Consultant, University of Bradford
  • Barrie Grey, Head of Student and Graduate Employability, York St John University
  • Becki Hart, Regional Director, Yorkshire & Humber, Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
  • Fatima Khan-Shah, West Yorkshire Mayoral Inclusivity Champion
  • Sally Alington, Founder & CEO, Ethos Farm 

Audience Q&A

12:30 – 13:15 Lunch & networking

13:15 – 14:15 Round one: Parallel breakout sessions

  • Session topic 1: Supporting Creatives

Focus: Going from the linear world of education to the non-linear world of creative careers: How do universities prepare students for their transition into employment? How important is space for creatives?

  • Session topic 2: Connecting supply and demand of graduates in Yorkshire

Focus: What are the regional key strengths to emphasise? What are the key opportunities to better connect? What is the impact of flexibility (in the development of students career thinking) on supply and demand of graduates? What are the challenges when it comes to employer perceptions for connecting supply and demand of graduates?

  • Session topic 3: Devolution across Yorkshire

Focus: What are the levers of devolution that can support graduate opportunities? What are the levers of devolution that can support graduate opportunities? What can we do together as a region?

  • Session topic 4: The revised YU Inclusive Recruitment Guide in practice

Focus: How does this guide help you in your role? What are the challenges / success you’ve had? What’s working well in delivering impact? 

14:15 – 14:30 Break & join next session

14:30 – 15:30 Round two: Parallel breakout sessions (topics repeat from round one)

  • Session topic 1: Supporting Creatives
  • Session topic 2: Connecting supply and demand of graduates in Yorkshire
  • Session topic 3: Devolution across Yorkshire
  • Session topic 4: The revised YU Inclusive Recruitment Guide in practice

15:30 – 15:40 Resume in plenary

15:40 – 16:00 Afternoon keynote by Martin Edmondson, CEO of The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS)

Martin has more than 20 years’ experience working across university employability and early careers. After starting out in recruitment and higher education, Martin founded and led the social enterprise Gradcore for 18 years before joining AGCAS. He has served as a Director of the Institute for Student Employers (ISE), advised governments on policy, writes for a range of publications, and speaks at conferences around the world on student employment and employability.

16:00 Finish & followed by networking


Register to attend here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/overcoming-employer-challenges-and-championing-graduates-across-yorkshire-tickets-909713737277

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