Telling the truth about SME life today

Taking on a business student could benefit employers

Despite 89 per cent of employers suggesting that embedding work experience within business courses would make students more employable, only 22 per cent offer job placements or internships to business school students.

The statistic is shocking given the fact that 51 per cent report difficulties in recruiting high calibre managers with the right skill set.

Indeed, the report reveals that employers do not naturally look to business schools as their preferred source of interns or permanent recruits; only 17 per cent of employers recruit directly from business schools. Instead, more than a third use business schools to train and develop staff focusing on executive education rather than recruitment.

The report also finds that employers have low awareness of the innovations that have taken place in recent years, with 40 per cent of employers unable to say if business schools did or did not understand the needs of organisations like theirs. Some 47 per cent could not say whether or not business schools in their area were well-connected with the local business community. 

These outmoded perceptions mean that 31 per cent of employers do not think there is a business case for working with universities. However, evidence shows that business and management education provides 3.25bn of revenue to the UK and that businesses that are physically located nearest to business schools have better-quality management.

The report also recognises that professional bodies have a complementary role to play in recognising and accrediting professional management skills within the business school curriculum. Some 75 per cent of employers agreed that more graduates should seek professional qualifications alongside their academic achievements to give employers evidence of their practical/applied skills. 

Ann Francke, Chief Executive of CMI, says: Stronger collaboration between business schools, employers and professional bodies will result in a better generation of leaders and also help lay the groundwork for greater innovation, management capability, and growth. Its a win-win situation because employers get professionally trained, practically-skilled managers who can deliver results from day one while graduates boost their career and progression prospects and universities improve student satisfaction, attracting more and better candidates.

It is further recommended that business schools work to develop stronger relationships with SMEs. The survey shows that 68 per cent of employers believe that business courses are too focused on the agenda of big business rather than preparing students for working in SMEs. Given that SMEs equate an estimated 4.9m in the UK, employing 24.3m people, the report recommends that this can be tackled by business schools and universities forging closer working relationships with SMEs, through routes like the new Small Business Charter and by working with Local Economic Partnerships.


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