When I joined the Digital, Data, and Technology (DDaT) Emerging Talent team in September 2020, one of the first projects I became responsible for was to work with the GDS Marketing team to build a short term marketing plan, which covered the time that the Fast Stream campaign was open between September and October 2020.
Whilst the application process for the 2020 Fast Stream intake was ongoing, I started to think of the types of attraction tools we could use for the 2021 application process. It was important to understand what attracts a graduate to join the DDaT Fast Stream scheme and to look at how our competitors attract the best talent too.
How we gathered our information
To understand what attracts the best talent to join the DDaT Fast Stream, I thought it was really important to ask those who have made the important decisions about their careers in the last 12 months, they are of course our first-year fast streamers.
The first step in the process was to ask them to complete a questionnaire which covered topics including:
- motivations to join the Fast Stream
- on-campus recruitment
- the Fast Stream website
- our social media presence
- diversity and inclusion
The questionnaire was completed by 28 Fast Streamers and gave some great insight on these topics.
The next step in the project was to take an in-depth look into the responses and to ask the first-years about them. This was done in the form of a 1-hour workshop, which took place at the beginning of November. Here they shared comments and ideas of how we could attract the top talent.
What did we learn from this information
There were a number of different themes that came from both the questionnaires and workshops, one of these themes included understanding what attracts graduates to the fast stream. One of the main reasons the fast stream scheme is so popular is the recognition that it is the leading graduate scheme in the UK and that there is a clear career path for graduates to work towards achieving.
We also learnt that campus activity is incredibly important to graduates and that any activity shouldn’t be restricted to just final year students. A number of the fast streamers had already started looking at career opportunities either before starting university or during the early years at university, so it is important that we engage with these students a lot earlier in their university journey. The Fast Streamers also told us that they would like more activity i.e employability sessions, Q&A’s and the opportunity to gain a better understanding about the digital environment within government.
One topic that all the participants from the workshop agreed on was around offering DDaT placement opportunities, particularly to university students in their 2nd year. They thought it was a great opportunity to provide an insight into the DDaT profession and the types of roles applicants could be doing if they joined the DDaT Fast Stream. School outreach is also something that they thought could attract students to think about DDaT earlier in their university journey.
The information we gained from both the questionnaire and the workshop will help the DDaT Emerging Talent team to focus on how we can support departments to continue to attract the best talent. The Fast stream will once again open for applications in early open.
I would like to thank all of the first-year Fast Streamers for their support with this project and for providing a great insight to their application journey - the information that they provided will help to support continuous improvement.