As STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is becoming a big focus in the United States for both our current college graduates and those who are deciding which path to take, I connected with Melissa Murray Bailey (President, Americas, Universum) who is actively working with the talent management teams in over 3000 companies across the globe in employer brand management, employer surveys, what the market needs are, and the talent gaps companies aspire to fill. Universum's research and market data analyses help bridge the gap between the talent supply (recent college graduates) and the market needs.
"Each year, in over 50 + countries, the Universum Talent survey is delivered to millions of students, graduates and professionals. Strong partnerships with over 2200 universities and academic institutions ensure that our preference data reflects the areas and fields of studies that businesses are hiring from. Our unique multi-year data allows businesses to look at preference trends in the past and project these to future opportunities to communicate with talent effectively. At Universum, we believe that bigger, better data gives our clients a distinct advantage when building their talent attraction and retention strategies."
"Each year, 3000 companies are nominated in over 57 markets as preferred employers by students and professionals. Employers from this selected list of nominees are included in Universum's Employer Study that reaches millions of active and passive job seekers. Talent participants choose which employers they are aware of, would consider working for, who are ideal and who they would apply for. The data forms the internationally recognized rankings released each year by Universum."
ZJ: How has Universum surveys and studies helped both the employers and their future workforce (students)?
Universum's survey gives students a voice in a space where they haven't always had one. Corporations are often seen as scary, immovable forces that don't care about people, but if that was true, it's certainly changed. Corporations are realizing that it's crucial to their business objectives to be intentional about bringing in young talent to grow into leaders and high performers long-term. Universum's survey gives students the platform to inform how companies are tailoring and communicating about their workplace and career opportunities in order to be attractive and engaging to their target talent.
For companies, our data has been essential in shaping their talent acquisition strategies. We help HR departments understand the long-term implications of building a strategy based on what students want & that has been the primary challenge. Once that has been accomplished, it's easy to see the best-in-class companies are attracting more top talent, having more positive engagements, and retaining the people they've invested in.
ZJ: What trends have you seen in terms of students picking Engineering vs. Business? Why pick one option over other?
There's increased emphasis on STEM degrees in general in the U.S., but we've witnessed only marginal growth in engineering degrees, which is still not enough to fill the growing demands for them, especially among minority groups and women. Currently, almost every company is trying to hire engineers or computer scientists in order to keep up with growth opportunities. Companies are utilizing the technical minds and thought processes of engineers in untraditional roles in order to develop efficiencies that were not there before. All of which goes to say that there will always be demand for the skills business majors bring to the table, but engineering is certainly more marketable currently.
ZJ: Does the survey by Universum influence the students to make a better choice on the Engineering Program they should pick?
This isn't really what Universum does because we're surveying students that are already in school. Freshmen and sophomores taking the survey may be influenced to switch majors if they're thinking about what they can do to be more attractive candidates to their ideal employers. But the main impact of our survey on students is how it makes them think critically about their career path and what they want in a job after school. This is something that is very important in a tough economy and at a time when college skills and workplace needs have drifted apart.
ZJ: Who is leveraging your data analytics solutions? Who is your end client?
We work primarily with HR departments at Fortune 500 companies, but it varies. The challenges we help overcome are C-suite level, so we end up working across departments like campus recruitment, talent acquisition, marketing, and social media. Our ideal clients are those who have leadership support to address issues that every company has, but most are unwilling to spend on short-term in order to save long-term. Those are the companies that work with us to dig into trends and develop strategies that allow them to be market leaders in attracting and retaining talent.
ZJ: What's the next step for helping our students make better choices and still be marketable?
The next step is improved and open communication. Companies are putting more effort into effectively communicating through channels that are comfortable for students. Social media is a very important tool that most companies still haven't even fully tapped into yet, but the market is headed in that direction. Companies are also learning to do a better job of communicating what they want from the students they hire, as well as investing in programs and curriculum that supports and promotes the skills needed to succeed in the job market. With the market continually changing, it's most important for students to be adaptable, eager and motivated, but having demonstrable technical skills is such a plus now, even if it's not derived from a college degree.
ZJ: Thank you for sharing excellent insights, Melissa.
Universum's Global Ranking - Business vs. Engineering
2014 US Students' Survey Results
Employer Branding Webinar