Frontline is a unique social work charity that aims to ensure that all children in England are not limited by their social circumstances. To support this mission, Frontline recruits talented graduates, with a keen interest in social work and the wider society, to provide support to the children who need it most. Frontline offers a 2-year graduate programme, which offers graduates the opportunity to become a qualified social worker and complete a Masters degree, while gaining practical experience of working with children, young people and families.
Despite receiving a high number of applications from York students, the conversion rate from applications to offer numbers in 2019 was low. Frontline identified that students displayed a lack of understanding about what a career in social work meant and were unable to articulate their interest during the recruitment process. We were able to work closely with Frontline to establish a strategic plan to support them in their mission to recruit graduates and engage students in a career in social work.
As a strategic partner, the University of York Careers and Placements Service provided Frontline with a Partnership Manager, who would act as their main point of contact and work through proactive steps to tackle the challenge of the low conversion rate for York students.
Frontline’s Partnership Manager facilitated a conversation between Frontline and a lead from the Social Work Masters programme at York to develop a strategic relationship, and to work together to inspire more students towards a career in this sector. From this, we worked with Frontline and the Social Work Masters programme to design an event that was specifically about increasing the awareness of the impact that graduates can have in this sector. The event provided a positive insight into social work, in order to challenge the negative bias towards this profession, through some myth-busting activities. The event also gave students the opportunity to hear from both experienced and trainee social workers about the rewards and challenges of their role, and to ask questions about the profession.
Alongside this bespoke event, Frontline has been involved in a variety of careers events, including our Careers Fairs, our Transform Society Panel Event and our Assessment Centre Experiences. Frontline also identified that our students needed to practice showing empathy and developing positive relationships in simulated conversations at assessment centres. To support this, we worked with Frontline and the Transform Society Alliance to deliver a role-play assessment centre activity. This enabled students to engage in a simulated conversation and receive personalised feedback to help them succeed in this activity.
As a result of our work with Frontline over the last two years, York students are better able to articulate their interest in social work during the recruitment process and our students are now performing better at assessment centres, with York students achieving a 63% pass rate compared to the national average of 44%.
Over the course of the year, Frontline and York have developed a successful partnership. The bespoke events and activities have resulted in the conversion rate of applications to offer numbers increasing from 10% in 2019 to 43.4% in 2020.
We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Frontline and continue to meet regularly to support their recruitment needs.