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The problem with conferences and what we are trying to do about it

Gradcore Team, Last updated 21-Feb-17 11:51

Lately, it feels like barely a week goes by without someone running a conference or event on graduate recruitment and employability. Eyes can tend to glaze over when you suggest such things. In that context, it can be hard to know which ones really add value and offer a useful day away from the office.

As well as the frequency of conferences, there are certain speakers and content that pop up at every event, often down to the fact that many of the events are not run by people with an interest or passion for the subject – but by dedicated conference companies who advertise buzzword topics and then hoover up the ticket revenue.

There is also the tendency to not gather a diverse range of speakers (in every sense), which as the recent Northern Powerhouse conference showed (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/19/northern-powerhouse-conference-organisers-issue-apology-over-lack-women-speakers ), can result in a lack of diverse perspectives and well-rounded debate.

In this context, as our conference approaches its 10th birthday it feels important to restate what makes our conference different.

The Graduate Employment Conference has some core principles that try and deal with this:

  • Put content on that we’d want to go and see
  • Get beyond the obvious – in terms of speakers and content
  • Capture the wisdom of the room as well as the speakers at the front
  • Reflect something of the place in which we are hosting the conference
  • Ensure no-one leaves without having got some useful intel on what they came for
  • Finish with drinks

In line with all of this our programme for GEC17 is the most exciting we’ve managed to put together including a Paralympian talking about resilience, a panel that will help us understand how Graduate Recruitment and HE can cope with the current flux around the world, Universities and Graduate Recruiters talking about how they foster resilience, and highly topical content around apprenticeships, DLHE and tech recruitment.

In terms of reflecting the place the conference is hosted, Nottingham is well represented in the content. As a city, it is making some major strides to become a brilliant graduate city as well as a great student city – and the two universities and councils will be speaking and attending.

Finally, our afternoon unconference has a series of discussion tracks where the attendee contribution is as important as that of the track leaders. This discussion based format, inspired by the likes of Bill Boorman, allows everyone to chip in, get their questions answered and build new networks. So if you work in graduate recruitment or HE and fancy a change of conference scene then come and join is on May 18th in Nottingham: http://bit.ly/GECBook

Martin Edmondson

CEO - Gradcore

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