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Turning the tables (and chairs) on employers

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Published on 26 February 2024

Kym Drady welcomes employers and academics taking the chair for Employer Voice
Kym Drady welcomes employers and academics taking the chair for Employer Voice

A group of University of Sunderland academics have turned to popular TV talent show The Voice to inspire an innovative collaboration. 

The Employer Voice event is designed to connect Business School students seeking employment with regional employers who are actively recruiting in a fun and innovative way.

After developing a short, elevator-style pitch which highlighted their qualities, skills and experiences, students were invited to deliver their pitch to the employers involved. Similarly, to the TV show, employers sat in swivel chairs with their backs to students. When they felt the student demonstrated what they were looking for, they turned their chair.  

Follow-up interviews between the employer and the student then took place, enabling the students to find out more about the employer’s recruitment opportunities. All students who took part in pitching were also provided individual feedback to help them reflect on their strengths and areas for development.

Participating employers included Tombola, Born Good, re:production, and the University’s HR team. 

Amelia Beaumont, the University’s Talent Acquisition Coordinator, who took part in the event, said: “This event is a fantastic way of connecting local employers with our talented students who got to showcase their talents in an innovative way. A huge well done to the students for having the courage to pitch themselves. We hope they have not only taken away some job opportunities but the confidence and feedback to utilise their experience in real life situations.”

Jade Finlay, Emerging Talent Partner at Tombola, said: “A massive well done to all of the students who were brave enough to take part and pitch themselves. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and I had some great conversations with students off the back of it.”

The Employer Voice event took place in the TV studio in the University’s Media Centre, St Peter's Campus, thanks to a collaboration between the event organiser Kym Drady, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management, and Dan Makaveli, Programme Leader in Media Production. A team of final year Media Production students facilitated and filmed the event in the TV studio. Business School students and colleagues from the University’s Centre for Graduate Prospects were also part of a live studio audience.

Kym and Dan are two of the University’s Academic Champions for Employability & Enterprise (ACEEs), who work closely with the University’s Centre for Graduate Prospects to further integrate employability and enterprise within academic programmes. Kym said: The HR staff team are very proud of our business students who pitched- it takes real courage to put yourself out there. I am also very appreciative of our local employers giving their precious time to support the event. The employer feedback was excellent with several students maintaining a dialogue and meeting the employers who turned for them going forward. I have already had one of the employers requesting another event, this time in Digital and Information Technology. A special thanks goes to Dan Makaveli, Susan Perryman and her amazing Media Production students who filmed the event and brought it to life in the studio.”

Despite being a co-curricular event for Business School students, the Media students involved in filming on the day will be reflecting on their work as part of their upcoming assessments, demonstrating how ACEEs are collaborating across disciplines, within and outside the curriculum. Dan said: “This event acted somewhat as a pilot, for future similar events, and I am delighted that it was such a huge success on all fronts, for students from both faculties, staff, and external colleagues. It was a bonus that we were able to both spot and take advantage of an opportunity, to also tie the event into a piece of in-curriculum assessment. I am a huge proponent of forging collaborations and partnerships of all forms, provided that all involved stakeholders genuinely benefit, and this was such a great example of that!”

Find out more about the Centre for Graduate Prospects and how the ACEEs working in your faculty can support you to enhance existing and develop new employability and enterprise opportunities.