Micro-communities: building a successful careers engagement programme
Let’s get straight to it. This blog will explore what micro-communities are, why they matter, and explore ideas for how you can get started.
What are micro-communities?
“Micro” has quickly become a macro topic in social media marketing. To break through the clutter of the noise, going smaller and narrowing your focus can often be the way to go big. This trend is as relevant to careers education as it is social media. There is something for Career Leaders to learn.
A micro-community is a segment or segments of your wider audience that share similar motives. In the case of careers education, most people want to support students.
Micro-communities are essential because it makes up the community of stakeholders that support individual schools. These will be parents, local employers, LEPs, training providers, universities, and colleges.
A macro-community is the totality of the careers education community. The macro-community is essential but not as important as the micro.
Why do micro-communities matter?
There are several, but we think there’s three that we must share.
There’ll be a significant shift in attitudes of the local, regional, national and international labour markets over the coming years. The markets will be tested and challenged in ways which we cannot predict. We can infer that attitudes towards globalisation and the environment might impact career decisions. There are possibly more questions than answers at this stage. You know your students best, do you think they’ll benefit from understanding their local labour market over national? If so, start to network with people within reach of your school. This is your micro-community.
Historically, careers has been a dry subject. Do we need to ask why the engagement problem has existed within the profession? Could it be that students have to find information, but they’ve been conditioned on information finding them? Or because it was the semi-retired PE teacher delivering the careers education not that long ago?
We now have Gatsby Benchmarks. Things are improving. However, the sector will never be free from problems. New government policy, economic conditions or even changes in student attitudes will mean new issues arise. The profession will have to adapt quickly to keep up with the needs and wants of students. There’s one thing that Careers Leaders can do immediately, which would have a positive impact on engagement. Start building a micro-community that reflects the needs of your students. Survey needs and wants not just because it is an expectation of Gatsby but because it’s the way to attend to need.
The two points raised earlier are related to the needs of the students and a common theme within the professional identity of careers personnel; adviser or leader.
The final point is critical and is perhaps the one that brings micro and macro together. That is, the UK Labour Market.
In the words of the Prime Minister, Boris said “Our economy has been shaken by COVID, and in the hand-to-mouth scrabblings of the pandemic, the shortcomings of our labour market and our education system have been painfully apparent,” – September 2020.
On the whole, the UK labour market is weak and is not as productive as our now European step-cousins and other parts of the World.
How to build micro-communities?
Here are three ideas for when you start your micro-community.
1) Understand your audience (s). You must ask your students what they want and give them the ability to change that as they move through the years. This will improve engagement. Other key stakeholders e.g. Enterprise Adviser, while you can’t pay them for their time there are other ways to support reward them. This is covered in our next webinar.
2) Choose the right platform. We cannot comment on any other platforms in the careers education market, but we can say, we designed the Careers Calendar with this emerging trend in mind. We accept that some Career Leaders won’t understand what we are doing. That’s because we are drawing the line. Delivering a platform that provides value to three stakeholder groups is difficult to understand, yet simple in practice. The Careers Calendar is a platform that you must consider for delivering on a modern-day engagement plan.
3) Share experiences and stories. Your students will love you for creating a series of speakers who share their career journey. With everything that has happened in the last 6 months, a good Careers Leader will have some of this organised or will have the intention of running something along these lines. It’s time to inspire through story telling.
The Careers Calendar enables you to build your communities in minutes as well as plan a series of events.
It’s now a question of when will you develop your micro-communities, and how will you manage them?
Want to give the Careers Calendar a go? Sign up here.
Find out how we help you to build and keep connected to your community here: Tune into Careers Calendar Live, our monthly webinar series dedicated to careers engagement.