Inspiring Young People: Members of Tomorrow – A Successful Spring Conference


We had a great turnout at our spring conference, held in central London at the Royal College of Nursing! We heard from some fantastic speakers across the sector about innovation in young member engagement.

Mark Farrar from the Association for Accounting Technicians (AAT) was our charismatic chair for the day. We also heard from AAT’s Head of Professional Development, who communicated the organisation’s value of “earn as you learn” with some great video case studies of young people benefiting from their alternative to University. AAT launched a suite of 9 new accounting qualifications in September 2014, which has proved a great boost for their engagement with young people and helping them into employment.


PARN Spring Conference
Our chair Mark Farrar speaks with AAT’s Head of Professional Development, Adam Harper, before we get started


Our keynote speaker Toby Peyton-Jones, Director of HR at Siemens and Commissioner at UKCES, started the morning by talking about professional standards. He recognised that problems with getting young people into employment developed before the economic crisis took hold. Apprenticeships, he believes, could give young employment a great boost as long as professional bodies and providers work together to define the standards for their industry: the sector needs to define what it means to be an apprentice.


PARN Keynote Speaker
(Left-Right) Toby Peyton-Jones from UKCES, our chair Mark Farrar of AAT and PARN CEO Andy Friedman


Meanwhile, the Institution for Engineering & Technology (IET) showed us a choice example of a great marketing campaign to engage with university students. Their initiative, IET On Campus, has a strong identity and a unanimously popular space hopper campaign. It’s as mad – and brilliant – as it sounds.



Later on our CEO Andy Friedman and Head of Research Rob Denny led 2 workshops on how to recruit apprentices and convert student members to full members – we only wish there had been more time for discussion! We know that lots of you who attended would’ve loved to be at both. Don’t worry; we’ve sent everyone who came along the key learning points from both workshops to take back to your organisation.


PARN Spring Conference


Before our panel discussion we had an inspiringly off-piste talk from the British Exploring Society on behalf of our headline sponsor and long-term partner, Silverbear. The Society does important work with young people to get them out working with nature and finding their independence. Their spokesperson Lieutenant General Andrew Graham left us with some food for thought: “In this era of content overload it is important to take the road less travelled”.

On the panel: we had individuals from professional bodies, non-profit organisations and supporters of apprenticeships: Blane Judd from EngTech Now, Phil Pyatt from Education & Employers campaign Inspiring the Future and Andy Stephens, Membership Development Officer at the Institute of Physics.

Listen to Blane Judd answering the question, “What can we do to ensure that the stated outcome of professional registration for trailblazer apprenticeships programmes is not lost post-election?”



The day came to a close with a heartfelt talk from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) who stressed that, with 1 million more schoolchildren by 2023, professional bodies from similar industries will need to work together to lobby Government and raise awareness of what our young people need. Look out for more from the CIOB’s talk on the blog!

Following some great infographics from the Chartered Management Institute, the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) took us into their re-brand and the future of young members. They explained how ‘Generation Z’ (whom CIPD define as those born from 1997-2014) require instantaneous communication, and suggested that professional bodies need to create a perfectly timed ‘membership journey’ for young people.


So, what are our key learning points for engaging with potential young members?

  • Introducing accredited qualifications for young people can be a great way of proving that you’ll support them through their career
  • The professional body sector needs to help providers define what it means to be an apprentice and, ultimately, a professional
  • Think outside the box when it comes to engaging with young people – whether that be a space hopper campaign or understanding how your audience uses digital
  • Professional bodies should work together to influence Government and get young people’s needs heard
  • Don’t forget about ‘Generation Z’: they are technology, and professional bodies need to understand how they communicate


Thanks to our headline sponsor Silverbear, as well as our sponsors Sterling, ASI, Core and Jenison for their support of this event!


PARN Research Apprenticeships
Take away: a snippet of PARN research on apprenticeships!

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