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GDPR IS COMING, It's not a problem look at the opportunities

By Jerry Lipman | 24th January 2018

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For many in the FE and vocational training sectors, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) represents a further overbearing compliance exercise for a sector that is already heavily burdened.

Many view the requirements as onerous, costly and potentially damaging to their organisation in terms of valuable lost data. It needn’t be; embracing GDPR and all that it stands for could help you connect more authentically with your audiences and really grow both learner numbers and employer engagement.
Coming as it does a year on from the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy, GDPR represents the second ‘once in a generation’ change for those delivering apprenticeships in a little over 12 months. FE Colleges will from necessity never be the most agile of organisations, so coping with two seismic shifts in such a short space of time could be said to be (at best) challenging. However, used properly, both of these events could be seen as opportunities and present a way to get ahead of your competition by building more meaningful relationships with your audiences than ever before.
GDPR is forcing training organisations from both Private and Public sectors to take a long, hard look at how they are collecting, storing and using their learner and employer data. But for those prepared to invest in the necessary tools, be innovative in their approach and use manageable, repeatable and agile based processes, GDPR can actually be used to understand your customers better, improve communications and engagement, increase revenue streams and provide a demonstrable ROI.
We know it sounds hard to believe but let’s look at the “problems” and balance that with the opportunities.
1. GDPR is designed to create transparency and consent for the consumer in how their data is collected and managed.
Compliance will allow your organisation to build high-levels of trust with customers through transparent, authentic communication policies. Showing your customers how much you value their data and how you will keep it secure will demonstrate a level of respect and accountability within your organisation that all customers want.
2. GDPR is designed to limit or stop entirely the number of unwelcome messages a consumer receives and limit the way their data can be shared or used.
Where companies have failed to gain proper consent in the past, your organisation can demonstrate it knows its audience and can provide valuable insight into future career decisions, appropriate training and sector knowledge. Where poor communicators will see a large percentage of opt outs, you can generate significantly more opt ins!
3. You will disengage from a large proportion of your database
Whilst there will inevitably be a reduction in the size of your database, this needn’t be a negative. When you audit your variety of data sources, realistically, how many latent or past customers still respond to any of your marketing campaigns? How much time and money do you waste on Direct Mail campaigns that are returned or remain unopened? Instead, let your marketing and admissions teams create appropriate clever, targeted campaigns to a smaller more receptive audience. It’s all they ever want! Segment your audience to make campaigns more customer centric and you will see a much better return on investment.
Whilst there is no silver bullet to achieving this there are fundamental steps organisations must take to implement best practice.
First do a thorough data audit.
This will generally result in the need to use an integrated data capture, storage and communications tool – in short, a decent CRM system with inbuilt robust, rule based business process and workflow management.
A good CRM system and GDPR have a lot in common
Both are designed to build deeper trust and loyalty with new and existing customers through the professional handling of personal customer data. CRM should be in the frontline of your GDPR compliance. It should capture all data and manage the process from initial contact, capturing enquiries and application through to enrolment. By the time the contact or organisation is engaged with your organisation you should have an auditable and chronological list of all touch points with data validated at appropriate points that can be shared with any of your other systems.
Focus on Business has been working with FE Colleges for over 10 years and has designed in partnership with funding agencies and sector providers the unique JustApply Software.
JustApply not only provides Colleges and Training Providers with a branded Professional Recruitment solution that can be quickly added to any website, but also a back end Dynamics 365 CRM system that captures, processes and matches employers vacancies, candidates and applications all in one system.
With the increasing importance of having clear visibility of customer preference information, storing it in one place alongside other customer data will be crucial to demonstrate GDPR compliance  JustApply offers just that. 

Not only can it be used as an end to end recruitment tool for managing courses and Apprenticeship vacancies, it can post directly to popular jobs boards and integrate with employer client processes. The web portal is a data capture mechanism that can manage complete processing compliance from application to sign up.
Through JustApply applicants can upload their relevant data and create a unique profile. This is a secure, permission-based system that can be updated at any time. They can then use their unique profile to apply for a traditional FE course or apprenticeship application. which is stored within an FE mapped version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (CRM). This consensual upload will provide the ‘opt in’ to your system. Applicants then have full access to their profile, which they can manage themselves, ensuring both transparency and accuracy of their data stored at all times.
JustApply is also a data management tool, allowing Colleges to grade applicants, store preferences and through its integration to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system allow Colleges to re-market to applicants through built in automation. By managing an applicants’, preferences in terms of hearing about their course or alternative apprenticeship opportunities, should they be unsuccessful with their first choice, this can form the double opt in required for complete compliance.
As well as compliance, JustApply means recruiters and admissions teams can improve efficiency, saving time and costs in processing vacancies, matching applications, arranging interviews and course capacity. Data entry is minimised, profiles can be graded, shortlisted and screened with key questions. Apprenticeship vacancies can be posted to NAS, UJM, Twitter, Facebook, and your own branded JustApply Recruitment Portal and all applications and candidate profiles are created automatically in your CRM system.
Once shortlisted, CVs or profiles (which can be edited according agreed policies) can be shared with employers directly, after initial assessment testing. Successful candidates can be allocated interview slots with employers and workflows created to automate repetitive or time related tasks. Reminders can be sent to all parties via email or SMS.
If you are concerned that your current system won’t keep you GDPR compliant, it’s not too late to see how JustApply can…. And help your business cut costs and grow.
Let us show you. For further information:
www.justapply.co.uk/contact
Please call: 0345 2300 447
Email: jerry.lipman@justapply.co.uk
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