Located in Somerset, England, Weston College is the 11th largest Further Education college in the UK. Judged as Outstanding by Ofsted, the main regulator education inspector in the UK, it offers over 500 courses and 70 apprenticeships to nearly 30,000 learners yearly.
Weston College noticed that young people often applied to a variety of very different courses, which reinforced the concern that these learners lacked the kind of highly specific careers guidance that would help them make more informed choices. In order to drive recruitment and engage potential students, the College remodelled its applicant journey into a four stage approach, starting with a careers assessment. To fulfill this stage, the College needed a data-backed tool that provided students with a solid overview of the labour market, which they could use to discover potential career paths and courses based on their interests.
Using Career Coach to improve student recruitment
In 2016, Weston College partnered with Lightcast to use its Career Coach solution. By filling out a questionnaire about personality and interests, applicants can discover suitable careers based on their responses, and dive even further to explore job profiles in each industry including median salaries, range of education level required, and the courses Weston College provides to get them to that career.
The results are based on Lightcast’s granular and regional Labour Market Insights, which is pulled through Career Coach via an API. The assessment is completely embedded into Weston College’s website, its biggest asset for student recruitment. In 2018, the College acquired one of Lightcast’s Further Education data tools, Course Analyst, which complemented Career Coach in providing more detailed regional data about courses, in-demand skills, and employment opportunities.
The impacts of Career Coach on student recruitment
Integrating Career Coach into Weston College’s website has been vital for applicant engagement and recruitment. 1,061 career assessments were completed In the academic year of 2021, and 76.2% of those were by local students. Furthermore, out of those that took the assessment, 98.9% said that the College provided them with enough information to make their application, and there was a 49.2% reduction in multiple offers, which has been increasing year on year.
Career Coach also significantly increased Weston College’s outreach in in-person events such as its 2021 week-long careers showcase, “What Next,” which had 500 young people in attendance, and over 50,000 engagements on social media. The tool was used to build programmes for 14 different sectors and create videos which were shown throughout the events.
Commenting on the success of Career Coach among applicants, Ben Knocks, Assistant Principal for Students at Weston College, said:
“There has been a lot of positive impact coming out of having Career Coach on our website. It plays a vital part in empowering our applicants and learners to have the confidence and tools to explore careers.”