AI as a tool for successful recruitment and retention of staff — webinar

Artificial intelligence can help employers tackle problems with recruitment and retention of staff, the latest in a series of EDUCATE Ventures webinars heard this week.

The events, led by Professor Rose Luckin, examine ways in which AI can help schools and organisations to run more smoothly and efficiently by providing important operational and practical data.

The webinars for educators, on June 2 and businesses, June 4, looked at some of the challenges facing both sectors with a focus on recruitment, and particularly so in education which was currently experiencing long-term staff shortages.

Karine George, a former primary headteacher and adviser, described how schools were often confused and unclear why their efforts at recruiting staff were attracting few, if any, applicants.

She said that schools often didn’t have the time to investigate recruitment practice or to plan an appropriate induction pack for new members of staff that responded to their individual needs and interests.

She added that, as a headteacher, she had kept data on staff longevity, the names of those who had moved on and who had been employed, and which staff were placed in what role, because the success of these decisions might impact on their retention. She also examined the phrasing of adverts and monitored how neighbouring schools worded theirs to see what could be learned from others.

Ms George said that one of the issues often not considered by schools were the hidden costs of recruitment — such as staff cover for interviews, trial lessons or tours of schools — in addition of advertisement in newspapers and radio.

Meanwhile Keiron Sparrowhawk, the founder of EdWard Level-2 winning MyCognition, one of EDUCATE’s most successful alumni, told the webinar for businesses that information about potential employees and recruitment practices were often kept in emails or various disparate files and needed to be collated into meaningful data which might show patterns of activity.

He said his company currently needed to employ people to take on marketing and sales roles, which were outside his areas of expertise, and with which he needed help and advice.

Professor Luckin said that AI had the capability to help both sectors with recruitment practices. This may require accessing and/or collecting additional data, for example regional data about staff recruitment, job particulars from similar vacancies (Ms George) and audio of conversations with potential staff members and potential customers (MyCognition)

Among the data that can be useful for AI, Professor Luckin identified written language, body language and facial expressions, which could provide insights into what was being communicated and how this was being received, as compared to the intention of the conversation. This could then be used, for example, to frame the wording of job advertisements to make schools and companies more attractive to prospective employees with the skills and expertise required, and aide the process of inducting them into organisations to make them feel their needs were being met, and that they were valued and respected members of the team.

The third in the series of EDUCATE Ventures webinars on AI Readiness will be held on June 16th for educators and June 18th for businesses. For further information and to follow EDUCATE’s events, visit our organiser profile.

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Dorothy Lepkowska

Dorothy is the Communications Lead on EDUCATE Ventures, and former education correspondent of several national newspapers.