Earlier this month, jobs.ac.uk had the pleasure of attending and exhibiting at the prestigious UPA Conference held in Belfast from 12th-15th May; which despite the current economic outlook, attracted a record crowd of over 200 delegates.
At a time of massive shake-up for universities as a result of economic competitive pressures and growing pessimism over funding levels, the key theme of the UPA conference was about measuring performance, looking at future developments in higher education and how HR needs to evolve to meet future challenges.
The conference was a timely opportunity to hear inspirational keynotes from top industry consultants and experts in the sector including Deputy Director-General of the CBI, John Cridland CBE, Professor David Grayson, Director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield and Fiona Anderson from change management specialists, ValuingYou.
Some of the key themes explored in the conference were:
- Employer engagement
Of all the keynotes and workshop sessions, one of the most thought-provoking topics was that of ‘employer engagement’ and engaging with business for mutual benefit i.e. building strong workforce skills for the future & improving students ‘employability’
To meet growing economic challenges (e.g. funding pressures, increased competition for students etc), experts at the conference cited that universities would have to become more innovative, flexible and focus more intensely on collaborating with businesses to survive the downturn.
A positive outcome from the credit crunch has been a renewed focus on leadership within HR. Long-term leadership and commitment are key to keeping the wheels of regeneration turning and ensuring that the sector is ready for the economic upturn whenever it comes.
- Employer branding
As competition continues to increase and the economy shrinks, both globally and within the UK, institutions need to harness their employer brand to attract and retain the best staff, major funding and investment. A brand isn’t just a logo but an organisations ethos, way of working and a differentiator from competitors – and importantly something that HR can drive.
The conference was also home to UPA Exhibition Hall, which played an integral part of the conference and is also where jobs.ac.uk proudly set up camp.
Reflecting the theme of the conference, jobs.ac.uk exhibited to promote ‘How to make your recruitment website more effective’; a new research report which examined the effectiveness of 50 UK universities and provided useful checkpoints and practical steps for universities to improve their own website – and therefore ultimately save time & money.
Visitors to our stand received a free USB stick with a sample of the research report but readers of this blog can also download a sample here.
The close of the conference was marked by a glitzy gala dinner and awards ceremony at Queens University in Belfast which also saw the unveiling of UPA’s new brand identity, UHR or Universities Human Resources.
Overall jobs.ac.uk had a great time at this years UPA annual conference. The conference and exhibition was a fantastic opportunity to meet our customers, network with experts from the sector and we thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the many delegates who took the time to visit our stand.
It was also encouraging to see that despite the current economic outlook, the conference still attracted a record crowd of over 200 delegates all eager to learn, network and inspire others.
Hope to see you all at next years UHR Conference.