Does the use of social media within universities promote employability?

This blog discusses whether the inclusion of social media within university courses is supportive of higher education’s employability agenda, and if so how can it be assessed?

The Department for Education forecasts a professional and technical skill gap which will rank the UK in the lowest quartile of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries by 2020.  The demand for graduates in the workplace remains high and is forecast to increase in the professional sector despite employers being dissatisfied with graduate employability skills, particularly in literacy, problem solving and work experience. The issues of graduate employability are further pronounced within the financial professional sector with nearly a third of employers requiring subject specific degrees. Conversely one fifth of graduates remain in long term nonprofessional employment.

So if the skill gap presents the largest challenge for Higher Education, how does the integration of social media within teaching help our students?

The increasing use of social media in all walks of life has clearly also impacted on the lives of academics and  students alike. The term ‘social media’ is often used to describe the variety of technology based platforms (online and offline) used to communicate and collaborate.  It is sometimes also used when discussing technology in general terms.

There is an assumed duty within higher education that students should be exposed to the technology which is in use in the workplace but this presents problems in that such technologies are cyclical and often become unpopular over time.  Given the planning timescale for course and module design within universities, it is therefore important that the teaching and assessment of social media should be generic in nature with the focus on the functionality and benefits of such technology.

In order to make an informed decision as to the arguments for the inclusion of social media for the assessment of students from an employability perspective, we need to understand the value of this medium to industry.  Communication, Collaboration, Problem Solving, Social interaction and networking are often regarded as work based competences which are highly valued by employers and therefore it is important that these are incorporated into the design of social media teaching and assessment, methods of testing, regardless of what technology is used.  In the modern workplace, the practical use and familiarly with technologies such as online conferencing and collaboration, webinars and Microsoft and Google packages is equally important and there is a case for assessing these skills alongside academic competences.

Although often impractical in large universities, a flexible course design to accommodate a variety of industry sectors will unquestionably benefit the student.  For example the successful launch of the BA (Hons) Esports degree at Staffordshire University has resulted in a tailored programme of study specifically including the use of social media for marketing and event design in the gaming sector

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) adapts a real time problem based approach to their assessment to ensure that students have sufficient depth of knowledge to apply to real industry problems. The technology itself is inherently part of the assessed activity in that if students are not familiar with the technology then they will be unable to complete the assessment. This has the potential to be expanded through the use of social media itself as a method of assessment.

So the ultimate question is whether the use of technology is appropriate and beneficial both to the student and the employer.

Mark Wordley is Lecturer and Course Leader for the Accounting & Finance Courses at Staffordshire University and is responsible for work placements within the Business School.

Free training for over 50’s!

Have you got to that point in your life where you feel its time for a change, a new direction, new job or new career? Well self-employment can offer a more flexible form of working, that may allow older people to stay in work for longer. Age UK says that older workers are more likely to have a higher chance of success with over 70 per cent of these businesses lasting over five years.

Still not convinced, well one of our Silver Worker trainees is a lady who through illness had been unable to work for the latter part of last year. She says it made her think about where she was “after over 60 years on life`s highway” and where she wanted the next part of her journey to take her.

She signed up for the Silver Workers free business start up training and has now taken the next steps in achieving her goal. She said:

The Silver Workers project has been catalytic and came at just the right time to help me to look at what transferable skills and talents I have.  It started my development of ideas that could become a new business and build on my previous work and experience”.

 “I have been to three sessions so far and I have started to answer my own question, `who am I` by listening to other people in the group, speaking about my ideas and using the Silver Workers platform.  Even today I am still working with my ideas and as with any creative process there is a developing sense of where I am going but I don’t think I am fully there yet.”

 “this also helped me to understand not only my strengths but also areas that I need to work on.  My confidence is not always so good with networking and talking to people about myself and what I do, so albeit I shy away from this I know it is an area for development as I journey on with my business”

 “Thank you, Hazel, Tom and Marzena for helping me to understand that even being over 60 I can be creative and have something valuable to offer”

Staffordshire Business School have developed this project which includes face to face sessions and on-line support allowing people to work at the pace that suits them. This course will suit anyone looking to develop skills to either set up a business or looking to get back in to work The course can help to develop both the confidence, mind-set and skills in this area.

If you would like to participate in this free training, then please contact Hazel Squire at h.squire@staffs.ac.uk  or Marzena Rezska at Marzena.Rezska2@staffs.ac.uk

 

The Meghan Markle Effect

Some of us will view the nuptials of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle as an excuse to celebrate a royal event and share the day either watching on television, online or with friends & family. Others will prefer to save their energies for the FA Cup Final later in the afternoon. Whatever your views on the Royal Family, Meghan Markle is not only entering one of the most famous families in the world but also one of the most successful global brands. The Royal brand generates annually upwards of £1.8bn to the U.K. economy (Brand Finance 2017) and Meghan herself is expected to generate £150m for British fashion brands over the next year (Ibisworld 2018).

St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, the venue for the Royal Wedding

Yet the Royal brand is not just a twenty-first century invention. Previous generations of royals have used their brand to leverage value in some less orthodox ways. Queen Victoria is hailed as championing the Scottish Highlands as the romantic tourist destination of well-heeled Victorians of the nineteenth century. Prior to that George III, raised the profile of Brighton as the Regency destination of the eighteenth century. More recently the current Royal brand has adopted a more overtly commercial stance extending their franchise to include multiple product lines from tea towels & cushions, celebration china & visitor experiences to the royal palaces. However, it is the secondary brand associations that generate the most income. When the Duchess of Cambridge steps out in a new outfit, within minutes the product line can be sold out, due to the speed and interest on social media.

So what value will Meghan bring to this hugely successful global brand? Interestingly she brings to the brand something that many commentators of the wedding of the year have overlooked. Unlike her contemporaries & predecessors, past Duchesses and Princesses, she brings a highly successful acting career. With the ageing population in the UK, the Royal Family needs to reconnect with Generation Z (16-25 year olds), and Meghan may be the person to do this. A quick chat with members of this generation shows the chasm in comparison between Meghan and her royal contemporaries. Views such as Meghan’s successful career and her broader life experiences, her ethnicity and her obvious contemporary beauty connects her with this generation more strongly perhaps than her future sister-in-law. So this is her brand strength. She is strong articulate and intelligent. Unique and authentic.

So what are the dangers this Royal brand could face? One is over-exposure, which always devalues a premium brand. The other is over extension into excessive product lines and mass commercialisation and linked with this a lack of exclusivity and authenticity. If Meghan wants to become more than a fashion icon she will need to navigate these brand waters carefully.

Official Engagement Photo https://twitter.com/kensingtonroyal/status/943813005770395648

On Saturday Meghan will enter this world. She will step out in a wedding dress worth thousands of pounds and instantly Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp & Facebook will go into overdrive. Images of the first glimpse of the dress will go global across the digital stratosphere and Meghan will become one of the most talked about human beings on the planet. Whatever your view on the Royal Family, the firm is now a brand. Managing this Royal brand online and off will be a challenge, but with her experience in the commercial world of TV and media Meghan should be better placed than most to deal with this – we wish her and her future husband well, health and happiness and a full & meaningful life growing the Royal brand.

 

Vicky Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Staffordshire Business School

Consent to using cookies is “baked” in the GDPR

Recently, you may have noticed when you log onto a company’s website or an Application (App) like Google or Twitter, there are alerts that their terms and conditions have been revised, or their privacy policy has been updated. You might also be inundated with requests for your consent to the use of cookies when visiting their site (refer to the examples below).

Example 1: ”Cookies on JohnLewis.com

Source: www.johnlewis.com accessed 3 May 2018

These types of notices are likely due to the fact that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP), which was passed by the European Union in 2016 and is coming into effect on May 25, 2018.

Example 2 of www.Barbour.com/uk request for consent to using of cookies on their website

Source: https://www.barbour.com/uk accessed 3 May 2018

The GDPR is a new digital privacy regulation which standardizes different privacy legislation across the EU. It is a legally binding regulation. Ignoring it could lead to fines of 4% of a company’s global turnover, or fines up to £17.6 million (20 million Euros) whichever is higher.

Explicit and informed consent is now required if a company wants to collect any personal data about a European citizen. This is not just having individuals check a consent box on the company’s website. A company will have to inform individuals exactly where their data is going. As well, individuals always have the right to say “NO” to their data being collected, that is, a company can’t stop an individual from using its website just because the individual does not consent to the company’s collection of his or her personal data. In the past, individuals would likely agree to a trade-off, that is, you can collect my data if I can use your site or use your app. That has now changed.

The GDPR provides individuals with the right to access their own data that the company has collected and individuals also have the ability to request that their data be deleted. Companies will be limited in the amount of personal data they can collect to that which is actually needed for specified and legitimate purposes.

Example 3: www.Cadbury.co.uk’s “Accept the use of cookies”

Source: https://www.cadbury.co.uk accessed 3 May 2018

Interestingly, even if a company is based in Australia, for example, the rules of the GDPR apply to them if a European citizen visits the company’s website or uses the company’s apps. So companies will need to be compliant with the GDPR even if they are based outside of Europe.

There is also special protection for children’s personal data. Companies who offer online services to children may need to obtain a parent’s or guardian’s consent in order to collect the child’s data, unless the child is 16 or over (although this may be lowered to 13 years old in the U.K.).

GDPR Basics for Marketers:

  • Ask for consent every time you collect data from someone, including tracking cookies – if you do not get consent you cannot track or collect it. Develop a way to track consent.
  • If people supply personal data on your website, then you need to make sure you have a way to provide this data back to people if they ask for it.
  • You will need a way to delete data, if requested to do so.
  • You may need to put systems in place that can verify individuals’ ages and a method to obtain parental or guardian consent, if required.

*For more information on the GDPR, please see Information Commissioner’s Office website at: https://ico.org.uk/

*Be sure to obtain legal advice. This content is meant only for educational purposes

Fatimah Moran, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

Undergraduate courses

Postgraduate courses

A trip to Iceland for Tourism and Events students!

Staffordshire Business School lecturers Paul Dobson and Carol Southall took the Level 5 Tourism and Event Management students to Reykjavik for 4 days as part of their Tourism and Events Service Operations Management module.


The students visited the Blue Lagoon, took a trip to see the Northern Lights and a city tour. They also attended a presentation by María Björk Gunnarsdóttir at Promote Iceland’s head office in Reykjavik, exploring the exponential growth in tourism in Iceland over the past 10 years and the marketing campaigns undertaken to facilitate this growth.

Additionally, both events and tourism students were tasked with analysing Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, following a fascinating tour and presentation by Edda Austmann, Harpa’s Marketing Manager.

www.staffs.ac.uk

Click here for more information on Tourism and Event Management degrees

 

Sarah Willingham visits Staffordshire Business School

As a lecturer, nothing gives you more pleasure than to see your students shine. On Monday 19th March I could not have been prouder of our students, as we welcomed honorary doctor of Staffordshire University, Sarah Willingham to the Business School, as one of the judges of our Willingham’s Winners competition. Sarah has a string of accolades for her contributions to business and in 2016 was named one of the Sunday Times 500 most influential people in Britain. She is probably best known for her appearance on Dragon’s Den, but there is nothing dragon-like about her – a “Stokie” born and bred, Sarah is down-to-earth, full of good advice and a business role model for students.

Six teams were shortlisted to present their business ideas in the finals, pitching to a panel of four judges; Sarah Willingham, Ben Dyer from the Ryman National Enterprise Challenge, Mark Blackhurst CEO of DigitalNext and Professor Liz Boath from the School of Social Work, Allied and Public Health. The panel commended all students on the professionalism of their pitches, giving constructive feedback to support student development.

Following an enlightening conversation and Q&A session with Professor Rune By, Sarah announced the winners of the competition as Crafted. The winning team presented a business idea described by Sarah as “absolutely on trend”, with a flawless, professional pitch, offering a range of delicious cakes catering for the health and wellbeing needs of people with gluten intolerance.

It is not often that undergraduates have the opportunity to gain the advice of such an influential panel of judges and despite nerves, I’m proud to say that all the finalist teams represented Staffordshire Business School superbly – they most definitely did shine.

Angela Lawrence, Senior Lecturer
Staffordshire Business School

http://www.staffs.ac.uk/news/dragons-den-star-puts-business-students-through-their-paces-tcm4296104.jsp

Success in Accounting and Finance!

Rose Dawson, a level 6 student due to graduate, has been awarded the Association of Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Martin Grieves Memorial Scholarship. There is only one awarded each year. Rose got £9000 towards here final year and after graduating her first year is supported to gain the CPA qualification. She applied after a recommendation sent out from her award leader. Rose has also secured a job with Hawsons Chartered Accountants.
 

Dr Syed Zaidi, lecturer in Staffordshire Business School,  has had a paper submission to a three star journal and completed his VIVA
 

Dr Souad Moufty, lecturer in Staffordshire Business School,  is part of a successful ERASMUS project KA2 Strategic Partnerships funding. With a successful bid for work on Adoption of Sustainable Accounting Practices for Reporting. The project receives a share of € 293,650.00.

Our Masters students have secured some great jobs highlights include:

  • Andrew Holder – BurtonBeavan  (Accountancy Firm) Chartered Accountant training position
  • Anamaria Bobos – Burberry Financial Analyst
  • Precious Atienza – Coop Bank
  • Conor Howard – Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Investment

 Mark Wordley, lecturer in Staffordshire Business School, has had an article published in the Innovative Practice in Higher Education Journal. Mark has also been taken on as an external examiner for the University of Sussex 

 

The accounting department received Charter Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) accreditation, resulting in 7 exemptions. This now makes the award triple accredited.

Karl McCormack, lecturer in Staffordshire Business School, has been awarded the Personal tutor of the year, proud to be staffs award 2017. He has also received the Commitment to excellence award at the Business, Leadership and Economics Pride awards. Karl had an article published in the Innovative Practice in Higher Education Journal. Karl also presented at the staff conference in September 2017.

The Accounting Accelerated award received 100% satisfaction and out of 27 metrics 20 of them were 100%. The three year degree has 92% satisfaction with 16 of the 27 metrics in the top 20 accounting courses and 10 in the top 10.

86% of the Accounting and Finance Accelerated students achieved a 2:1 or first.

The Next War!

Environmental degradation has featured widely of late in the news channels.  

Following the scandal over auto-manufacturers ‘fixing’ of emission tests we have had widespread reporting on deterioration of air quality around our major cities associated with particulate concentrations associated with the large number of diesel powered vehicles we were all encouraged to purchase.  Although diesel vehicles have certainly taken the brunt of adverse publicity – resulting in a very significant drop in purchase of both new and second-hand diesel-powered vehicles we must take note that their petrol-powered cousins are no angels. They might not emit harmful particulates, but they are very capable of emitting a noxious cocktail of other harmful agents which accumulate in the atmosphere with potential for adverse impact to health.  Just this last week we have seen headlines posting the rise in incidence of lung cancer in non-smokers, overtaking other forms of the disease for the first time – where cigarette tobacco was always previously posted as a primary causal attribute.

More recently we have also been inundated with the threat of plastic contamination. We are advised that of the c.15bn tonnes produced, mostly used in such as disposable products and packaging that despite our attempts to reduce consumption of plastic bags and our increasing attempt to sort and therefore recycle – we in fact learn that very little, perhaps as little as 5% is actually recycled due to contamination.  Not all plastics are the same – there are over 50 different types.  Capacity to recycle is still wholly insufficient.  We still generate c.300 million tonnes/annum where most ends in land-fill and the oceans.  Plastic waste now appears to have infiltrated every corner of the planet from our beaches, where school children in the Scottish island are busily engaged in tidying up.  One pupil produced a crisp packet of a vintage not used for c.20 years!  We know the oceans have become increasingly contaminated with micro-size plastic fragments. They have infiltrated the food chain in which we place so much reliance as the world population increases.  The arctic region has now been highlighted as contaminated as has the deepest reaches of the oceans. 


Another consideration is that of shipping – a key facilitator of world-wide logistics and supply chain operations without which the global economy would slow or stall.  A vast quantity of waste products generated by the immense heavy oil powered engines in such vessels inevitably finds its way not to what often prove to be expensive collection and recycling facilities but inevitably into our oceans.  Slowly but surely the oceans around the world are showing signs of increased stress.

And so it goes on.  Intensive agricultural techniques & practice over many years has increasingly saturated soils with harmful nitrate compounds which then seep into the water table.  We even hear of the vast amount of debris floating in orbit around our planet which take centuries to degrade or at best plummet at some point back to earth.  

The challenge is inevitably complex and hence so are the potential solutions.  The relentless adoption of free market economic policy around the world is in direct conflict with efforts to protect and sustain our environment and planet.  New economies such as those of China & India seek to take their place at the top table and hence exacerbate the challenge.  In 2010 it was estimated that over 30bn tonnes of Co2 or greenhouse gas was added to the atmosphere.  By 2020 it is estimated that Co2 emissions since the start of the century will have surpassed those of the entire previous century and it is still increasing despite the rhetoric.  We have now reached Co2 emissions of c.40bn tonnes/annum.  In 2014 the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) stated that in order to reverse this trend our entire reliance on fossil fuels may need to cease by 2100 otherwise we could experience irreversible climate change such as sea-level rises of over 1m coupled with melting of the ice caps and ocean acidification affecting the food chain, crop failure affecting c.3 billion people, catastrophic extinction events and rising temperatures. The highest recorded temperature ever recorded was reported in Death Valley (appropriately named) – a staggering 57.6 degrees C on 10.07.13.  We are also witnessing a hitherto unprecedented increase in world population where having reached c. 1bn around 1800 – just over 200 years ago we have grown to a staggering 7.5bn today adding the last 1bn in just over 10 years.  We are on course for c.9-10bn by the middle of this century.

An EU survey conducted throughout member states recently was aimed at determining general awareness of what were perceived to be the top 10 global challenges.  The survey revealed that a significant proportion simply did not know or have a view.  What it did reveal however was that the top concerns were climate change, poverty and lack of food & water. 

Despite our knowledge, experience and advanced technology, evidence would suggest we have not advanced very far in addressing these challenges.   

The clock is ticking!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Hirst, Senior Lecturer
Staffordshire Business School
Staffordshire University

Time to fix the broken windows…and other sexist stories

On the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave women in the UK the right to vote for the first time, many questioned why women’s rights haven’t progressed further over the last century. Women still earn less than men across the board and are the subject of sexual discrimination and widespread industry assault – so is the key to equality ensuring more women are employed at the top?

The Representation of the People Act added 8.5 million women to the electoral roll but only those over 30 who owned property or were graduates were included. The Act also gave the vote to 5.6 million more men after their voting age was lowered to 21, and the property qualification abolished resulting in the general election in December 1918 consulting an electorate three times the size of the one before it.

Yet progress for women has often felt painfully slow. When a 32-year-old, pregnant Harriet Harman was elected in 1982 there were still only 19 female MPs. The 2017 election was the first time more than 200 women were elected, 208 out of 650 seats.

Beyond the UK, there are female leaders dotted across the globe, and ‘dotted’ remains exactly what they are. There are currently only 28 female heads of state out of 146 world nations, most of which have never had a female leader. And while having a woman in charge doesn’t necessarily make a party’s policies more feminist, it sends a hugely important message to the next generation of women.

The issue of equal pay was brought to our attention by the media in October last year when it was revealed that men working for the BBC earn an average of 9.3% more than women. According to Director General Tony Hall this is more favourable than many organisations which average 18%.

What followed was a widespread campaign, promoting the fact that male presenters were willing to take a pay cut to bring them in line with their female colleagues.

In January, the boss of Luton-based airline EasyJet announced he is taking a pay cut to match the salary of his female predecessor. His salary of £740,000 will now be reduced to £706,000. Furthermore, it was recently revealed women’s hourly pay rates are 52% lower than the men at the airline.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42859853

In the latest research from The Chartered Management Institute more than four in five (85%) of women report that they have witnessed gender-discriminatory acts at work.

The Blueprint for Balance: time to fix the broken windows report, which surveyed 856 managers, found that the majority of organisations are still struggling to make a meaningful difference to achieving a gender-balanced workplace.

Worryingly, according to CMI’s new report, only 19% of junior and middle managers believe their senior leaders are committed to the target of gender balance in their organisations – this despite a recent study by management consultants McKinsey showing that the most gender-diverse businesses are 21% more likely to financially outperform their peers.

The new CMI research also found that, despite the introduction of new pay transparency reporting regulations in April 2017, only 8% of managers know the size of their organisation’s gender pay gap.

Furthermore, more than two in five surveyed claim that their organisation does not have a gender pay gap, even though the research found the average difference in pay between male and female managers to be 27%.

Yes, female leaders have worked hard to smash many a glass ceiling and indeed fix the broken windows, but there still appears to be a long way to go.  Here’s hoping the next 100 years address the balance.

Rachel Gowers
Business Leadership and Economics
Staffordshire University

Find out what over 1,000 employers want from graduates

On Wednesday 21 Feb the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) revealed the outcome of their research with employers about what makes a 21st Century leader, and it makes great reading.

The report highlights five abilities employers want in new managers:

  • Taking responsibility (60%)
  • People management skills (55%)
  • Honest & ethical (55%)
  • Problem solving & critical analysis (52%)
  • Collaboration & team-working (48%)

62% OF THE MANAGERS SURVEYED EXPECT NEW GRADUATE RECRUITS TO HAVE PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT SKILLS (CMI 2018)

This is great news for Staffordshire Business School that is launching all new courses for 2018. The focus is moving away from knowledge towards skills; skills that are learnt from industry experts, developed in the classroom and practiced through active learning. By the time you are ‘let-loose’ on work placements in your second year, you can feel confident in your abilities to be an effective manager.

The new modules can be found in all of our courses:
BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance
BA (Hons) Business Management
BA (Hons) Event Management
BA (Hons) Marketing Management

Look out for the new modules that you’ll be studying on all courses:

Professional Toolkit
You will learn how to create your own personal brand and develop the skills you need for successful study and prepare you for the jobs of the future. From giving you the digital skills you need to be the next generation of manager to developing your social media presence this module has everything you need to be an effective professional that everyone would want on their team.

Business Creation and Innovation
Entrepreneurship and innovation are the life blood of any business, whether a start-up or a well-established organisation. This module combines the practical requirements and theoretical constructs to inspire enterprising, entrepreneurial and innovative thinking, equipping you with the tools to develop and initiate a new business.

To find out more about our new courses visit us for an open day or if you’ve already applied (wise choice) come to our next offer holder day – you’ll be getting an invite soon.

Keep an eye out for the follow up article coming soon on the Business Blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean