Analysis of job adverts and of students' reading of job adverts to identify barriers to students applying for jobs
To explore whether student perception of and preference for STEM sector entry routes and the language used in STEM sector job adverts for graduates and researchers create a barrier to the effective working of the STEM labour market.
• Careers Practitioners find that many students focus too readily on highly visible ‘graduate training schemes’ and are often unaware of the importance of creative job hunting or networking which helps them create opportunities for themselves. Yet there is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that students will avoid graduate training programmes as they find them to daunting and outside their comfort zone, leaving them with no perceived alternative routes into STEM roles. The language of adverts may well compound this by creating the wrong impression on STEM graduates and researchers and particularly women who are less well represented in the STEM sector.
• Careers Practitioners often find that academics from STEM subjects have limited knowledge about the recruitment process.
• By analysing this objectively, we can work out whether these assertions are indeed correct and if so provide the results to UK STEM who can communicate them to relevant employers, academics, agencies and professional bodies in order to improve the accessibility of the sector and ensure that students and researchers are not put off applying.
• The recent Universum Student Survey 2010 (UK Edition) produced some interesting findings about the perceptions and preferences of natural scientists at the University of Reading and this provides a sound base for us to continue to investigate potential labour market barriers in this area.
Objective 1: To conduct a survey amongst 50 final year STEM students to gain an understanding of their awareness and preferences of different student entry routes into the STEM sector and to analyse how this compares to the real entry points for the South East as captured by DHLE.
Objective 2: To conduct interviews/surveys (10-12 for each of chemistry, physics, engineering and maths) whereby students will be presented with advertisements and asked to feedback the impact they perceive from the advert and their critical assessment of it.
Objective 3: To meet with approximately 24 STEM recruiters (six for each of chemistry, physics, engineering and maths) to capture the intentions they have for their job advert in terms of target audience and impact intention.
Output 1: A report outlining students’ levels of awareness of different entry routes and a preferences ranking for each of the entry routes and how this compares to reality. This data will be analysed by gender.
Output 2: To produce a written analysis of how student perceptions of and employer intentions in relation to job advert language compares. This will also be analysed by gender.
Guidance document and final report.