Key Takeaways from the AAGE Conference 2023 - Unconventional Pathways, Limitless Potential

Posted by Ben Kirk

And that’s a wrap! The AAGE Graduate Recruitment and Development Conference for 2023 has come and gone. And what a conference it was; sold out, 500+ delegates, a packed ball room for the AGRIA’s (AAGE Graduate Recruitment Industry Awards), inspirational speakers and informative sessions (plus some great dance moves!).   


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This was my first AAGE Conference and my first major graduate event since joining GradConnection. It must have been good as I’m already looking forward to the next one where I’ll be able to reconnect with a lot of the delegates that I met at the conference. 

I would like to congratulate all the winners, and in particular those that pipped us to the post in the two awards we were shortlisted for, ‘Most Popular Exhibitor’ (congratulations to Brightworks) and ‘Supplier of the Year’ (congratulations to The Career Conversation). 

Although I have said this before, I am continually blown away by the passion, openness, and collaboration in grad recruitment. You’re all competing for the same talent, yet you are happy to share strategies and what is (and isn’t) working for you. This was abundantly clear at the conference where delegates weren’t connecting with one another as competitors or even peers, they were connecting as long-term friends all with a shared passion and goal. 

Grad recruitment is being seen less as a stepping stone into a business; it is seen as business critical, a career, and associations like the AAGE are spearheading this change in perception.  


Key Conference Takeaways 

I was asked what my key takeaways were from the conference. You’ve already read my number one takeaway earlier in this article, however I would like to share what was most spoken about during the breaks between sessions: 

  1. What do employers need to do to ensure they are ready for Gen Z and Gen Alpha, who will make up 50% of the workforce in 2035? How do we connect, empower, support and retain these generations? What drives their passion? 
  2. AI – an understandably hot topic at the conference. AI has been developed to help humans – and in recruitment it’s all about the humans. How can AI help an employer with ad writing (e.g. ask AI if an advert is gender neutral), screening, letting applicants know they’re unsuccessful, keeping hires engaged? And how much has AI helped the students with their applications - does it matter, can you determine if AI was used anyway (typically you can’t)? Simply put, it’s time to embrace AI. 
  3. Pre-load professional etiquette training so grads are well prepared on day one. This also helps to keep the grads engaged during the time between accepting a role and their first day. 
  4. Hybrid working is still the preference for graduates, however, there has been a swing from majority of time in the office in 2022 to majority of time at home in 2023. With the steady increase in employers promoting/expecting more in office time, grads are heading the opposite way. 
  5. And finally, make sure you keep your cool! – you have excellent suppliers to help with attraction, selection, retention and training. The economy is not as bad as a lot of media outlets would suggest, unemployment is rising but only very slowly, retrenchment rate is staying steady, the job market has stabilised and student search is still healthy! 

Go well with your recruitment and make sure you keep connected with your grads starting next year! For more grad recruitment insights, see our 2023 Student Sentiment Report – now available to download. 

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