How our Advanced Reporting tool is transforming the way Newcastle University Careers Service tracks its progress
Thursday, February 20, 2020

The problem: current reporting not showing the full picture

Careers advisers at Newcastle have a link within each school, but it is harder to engage with students at some of the schools than others. We wanted to be able to track how students were engaging with the Careers Service in an operational, systemic way – the number of appointments being made, the reasons students were visiting, the kind of careers activity they were seeking help with etc – and then to be able to identify the schools with low engagement so that they could better meet the demands of students. The Careers Service had reviewed its operational progress in the past, but it was looking for something that would provide ongoing reporting, that could be linked straight in, and that would ultimately improve the university’s statistics and league tables.

The solution: TARGETconnect’s Advanced Reporting module

The user demo from GTI’s TARGETconnect team made everything quite straightforward for us, showing us how to connect and bring in the data from the tables. Being able to link straight in using the software package Power BI was really helpful, making it easy to get the basics up and running and to analyse data.

The Advanced Reporting module allows the Careers Service to track so much useful data, for example:

  • the number of appointments
  • the types of appointments (eg CV adviser, careers adviser, info officer, careers officer or business start-up)
  • the students’ presenting needs (eg career planning, revamping a CV, talking about work experience).

The Careers Service is not yet tracking the outcomes of appointments – for example, the advice given – but that is next on our list of things to do.

You can get visuals of the data quickly and there are options to use different types of chart, varying how the information is displayed. So far I’ve used it at a very basic level but I suspect there’s a lot more that I can – and I’m sure I will – do. It’s a bit like Excel but a lot better!

The result: a thumbs up!

Our employability leads in each school have had access to the reports we’ve generated. We’ve created reports not only on the operational side but also on the opportunities side, such as a vacancy map that displays the vacancies available in each postcode. We’ve also pulled in our career readiness and work experience information. Here, you can see two examples of reports generated.

The Careers Interactions summary: interactions with students and graduates in the Careers Service

Appointments can be assigned a category and a sub-category to record the nature of what has been discussed with the student. The filters along the top allow the user to specify:

  • start and end dates
  • school (shown as ‘department’) and course
  • type (undergrad, postgrad taught, postgrad research or grad)
  • year of study.

Multiple schools have been selected here so it doesn’t just give the detail for public viewing. It’s also possible to filter by appointment type by clicking on the relevant bar in the chart.

Vacancies map: geographic location by postcode

Coloured circles represent the different categories of opportunity. It’s possible to filter by an individual job type by clicking on the row in the table on the right-hand side. Hovering over a circle displays the employer name and postcode of a vacancy. You can zoom in and out of the map to view regions in greater details. It can also show worldwide locations depending on the quality of the address data provided.

Feedback from our demo to the schools was really good – they liked what they saw – and Careers Service staff have been impressed. Marc Lintern, the Director of the Careers Service, is very happy with it, and Naomi Oosman-Watts, Assistant Director (Career Management), is finding it useful day to day and when working with the career guidance team. There’s a real desire in our Careers Service to use this information to inform our decision making and improve service and communications between schools and the Careers Service.

Next steps

The next step for us is to get a full year’s data in for review and discuss how we can build and improve on the reporting we have. We’ll sit down with all the different teams in the Careers Service to gather more feedback: their general impressions, what they’ve found useful, where they think it can go etc. From a tech and data side I could continually produce new reports but I’m keen for demand to be led by the people using it.

At some point in the future it will be interesting to link Advanced Reporting up with graduate destinations data – we’re currently waiting for the Graduate Outcomes data to come out. I’d like to analyse comparable groups of students and hopefully demonstrate that we can improve employability; that students who visit the Careers Service – who engage with us, take our advice and attend our events – ultimately do better in the employment market.

For anyone considering the Advanced Reporting module, or just starting to use it, I recommend first identifying a handful of reports at the highest level and then getting something visual up to give people an idea of what the module can do. Then you can review the data, improve your tech skills and build on that… but it’s important to keep it simple at first! You can easily demonstrate what it’s capable of without getting bogged down in all the technical details.