Sustainable Food and Drink Tourism

‘Tourist choices are increasingly influenced by sustainability considerations’
(UN World Tourism Organisation – 2012)

The UN regards food as an ‘intangible cultural asset’

Food is part of a destinations ‘persona’

Source: World Food Travel Association, 2016 FoodTrekking Monitor

Food sustains life; without food, humans cannot survive. It is, therefore, important for our future to protect the natural resources that supply food. However, what people eat not only matters for individuals and their environment, but for the economy and society in general. At the same time, food is an important component of a holiday. For hotels and cruise ships, good food has the potential to become a competitive advantage while bad food can damage a hotel’s or cruise ship’s reputation for years. This is why it is of great importance for tourism businesses to manage food in a sustainable way.

Sustainable food consumption is a growing field of interest. One reason is the constantly and rapidly growing demand for food in a world whose population is expected to grow to over 9 billion people by 2050. At the same time, food producers around the world often do not get a fair share of global food trade and in many instances work under poor conditions. Additional pressure arises from the greenhouse-gas emissions caused by food production, which play a crucial role in climate change. Furthermore, the health aspect of food is a major concern, especially in modern societies. Finally, rapid socio-cultural changes in many countries raise the question of the protection of food cultures and traditions.

Food and drinks consumption is seen by most tourists as an important part of their trips and tourism often takes place in ecologically, socially and culturally sensitive destinations. Through food consumption, it is not only possible to support your health and well-being while on holiday, but also to interact directly with the ecological, social and cultural resources of a destination.

Some key facts

  1. For 44% of traveller’s food is one of the top three criteria they consider when deciding where to travel.
  2. 1 in 5 international visitors to Europe are involved in gastronomic activities on the trip.
  3. Food and drinks is the second largest spend by tourists (after accommodation) whilst on holiday. 

At the same time, unsustainable food consumption has the potential to cause harm for tourists, local inhabit- ants, and destinations in general. Over use of scarce resources, excessive food waste and poor labour conditions are some examples of areas, where touristic food consumption has negative consequences for a destination. Understanding and managing food in a holistic, sustainable way is therefore one key for the future success of tourism businesses around the world.

Dimension: Local Food

Local purchasing supports a destination’s economy both directly through payments and indirectly through the creation of jobs. Also, from an environmental point of view, local sourcing makes sense, since it lowers transport emissions and packaging waste. Local sourcing also helps protect local food cultures and might provide healthier options of less-processed and -preserved food.

The primary challenge to tourism businesses in holiday destinations is, therefore,
to find access to local produce and to build up a reliable food supply. However, there is no official definition of what local food actually means. For example, the Green Restaurant Association (USA) defines local food as food that comes from a distance of below 400 miles (643 km) away, while Viabono (Germany) regards food from less than 60 miles (96.5 km) away as local.

What is considered local also depends on the destination: for a hotel on a small island, the local radius is probably smaller than for a land-based hotel in extensively populated areas. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, you should look for the closest food supply you can get.

Local ingredients and food seem to play a key role, when it comes to customers attitudes. More than 60% of German package holiday travellers prefer local dishes to familiar ones and strongly agree that food and drink are a good way to become acquainted with other cultures.

So what can you do?

 You have to understand the growing importance of food and drink in the tourism industry and its importance to your customers. Than, identify and apply actions to address customer needs and promote your business using sustainability as the message.

We have created a free online tool to help you develop this area. Our training tool was developed by and with the tourism industry. This free online training covers 11 modules to complete with short quizzes at the end of each module. This tool helps you to design your own strategy in relation to your individual business needs.  All you need is an internet connection.

Click here to register and start your free online training today:  http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Marzena Reszka, Staffordshire Business School.

Reference

UN World Tourism Organisation (2012). Annual Report. [Online] Available from: http://www2.unwto.org/publication/unwto-annual-report-2012

World Food Travel Association (2016). Food Trekking Monitor. [Online] Available from: http://www.worldfoodtravel.org/articles/world-food-travel-association-2016-annual-report

Useful links

https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2017/04/10/service-quality-in-tourism-the-road-less-travelled/

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What Next After Graduation?

Now you have completed an important journey of your life! It is truly a milestone and whether you have done it for yourself or for parents’/partner’s sake, the dedication, commitments and challenges have been great and will live with you for a very long time to come. From now on, anything that you wish to set as a target or challenge is within your reach! Some of you will be looking for jobs and others will make a decision whether to set another educational goal. A master’s degree perhaps, a PGCE or professional qualifications? Any and all are within your sight and sky is the limit for you! Whatever you would like to do, you are now the expert to confirm to yourself, yes, I can and I will do it…

Just to let you know that Staffordshire Business School offers a wide range of Masters degrees, just to mention few: MSc Accounting and Finance, MSc Digital Marketing Management, MSc International Business Management, MA Human Resource Management and MA Strategic Human Resource Management. Most of which attract a student finance loan of £10,280 to pay for the fees and your living costs. Because the University wanted to make it easy for those who wish to further their study, it set the Masters fees so low! Therefore, the £10,280 student finance loan is more than enough to pay the fees and goes a long way to cover significant part of your living expenses. For example, the fees for the MSc Accounting and Finance is £6,200 (for Home and EU students). The recipients of £10,280 from student finance will be left with £4,080 after paying the fees which they can use towards their living expenses!

Remember, if you are still finding it difficult to make this strategic decision about your future, your ‘former’ personal tutor, course leader and all other staff who taught you are only too pleased to discuss this with you. Of course the Postgraduate course tutors are there too to provide further details about their particular course.

Being the Connected University, the message is simple, do not hesitate to get in touch!

Arshad Hussain, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School.

www.staffs.ac.uk

Sustainable Supply Chain

Operating ethically and operating profitably are no longer mutually exclusive concepts. Leading companies are “walking the walk,” balancing the goal of achieving profitability with gaining social and environmental advantages.

Companies stuck in a mind-set of “what’s the minimum I need to do” are missing out on opportunities to use ethical business practices as an integral part of what makes them unique.

Achieving responsible and profitable supply chains is about gaining a triple advantage creating a clear business case for organisations, as well as benefits for the environment and society. Those focused on this “triple advantage” is supply chain operations can increase competitiveness through increased revenue and brand reputation while decreasing cost and risk.

To sustain competitiveness, companies need to recalibrate their strategies towards ethical behaviour—moving from a focus on compliance to differentiation. Companies engaged in responsible supply chain efforts often refer to their “license to operate.” That implies they’ve established trust with local governments and society by complying with regulations and establishing health and safety programs that give them tacit permission to do business.

So you may think what is a supply chain?

Supply chains are present in every economic sector – they are made up of connections between suppliers of all the goods and services that go into the delivery of products to consumers.

A sustainable supply chain is one that involves the incorporation of socio-cultural, environmental and economically viable practices placed into the full lifecycle of the supply chain. The full lifecycle of the supply chain means all the steps from product design and development, to selection of appropriate materials, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, storage, supply, consumption, and recycling.

What are sustainable tourism supply chains?

In the context of the tourism sector, a sustainable supply chain includes all suppliers of goods and services;

–        either contracted straight from tour operators and associated ground handlers

–        or via suppliers including accommodation providers

A holiday is the end product most commonly purchased in a tourism supply chain.

Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) encapsulates the trend to use purchasing policies and practices to facilitate sustainable development at the tourist destination. Most research has focused on environmental aspects of manufacturing, while other aspects of sustainability or the challenges for the service sector are largely ignored. Yet SSC is particularly important for tour operators, as the product depends on the activities of suppliers such as accommodation, transport and activities. Therefore, tour operators’ contribution to sustainable tourism will be more effective through the definition and implementation of policies that acknowledge responsibility for the impacts of suppliers.

Across tourism supply chains, research has suggested that the process of implementing sustainable practices is most challenging in the area of transport, and most straight forward in accommodation. Attempt to generate sustainability at the scale of a destination need the combined efforts of the widest partnership of stakeholders.

It is therefore important, when supporting and connecting to a local destination, for businesses to have a strong grasp of the whole holiday experience and the type of advice that will be useful for customers. Each destination has its specific setting, but a general summary of links looks like this:

© 2003 Richard Tapper, Environment Business & Development Group

The Benefits

So why might a business wish to apply a sustainable tourism supply approach – what are the principal benefits?

All supply chains can be optimised using sustainable practices. Sustainability in the supply chain encapsulates a number of different priorities:

  • Environmental stewardship
  • Conservation of resources
  • Reduction of carbon footprint
  • Financial savings and viability
  • Social responsibility

Managing supply chains in a sustainable manner can help businesses in not only reducing their total carbon footprint, but also in optimising their end-to-end operations to achieve:

  • Improved credibility, visibility and brand reputation
  • Improved access to markets
  • Greater operational effectiveness leading to cost savings and profitability

We have created a free online tool to help you develop. Our training tool was developed by and with the tourism industry. This free online training covers 11 modules to complete with short quizzes at the end of each module. This tool helps you to design your own strategy in relation to your individual business needs.  All you need is an internet connection.

Click here to register and start your free online training today:  http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Marzena Reszka, Staffordshire Business School


Reference

Accenture Consulting (2017). Walking the Walk Driving Competitiveness Through Ethical Supply Chains. [Online] Available from: www.accenture.com

Useful links

https://blogs.staffs.ac.uk/business/2017/04/10/service-quality-in-tourism-the-road-less-travelled/

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Is a voice command system safe (or private) enough for you?

I love shopping online; the ease and convenience of shopping without the hassles of trying to find a parking spot and dealing with the crowds at the mall makes it attractive for me. Recently, one of the biggest online shopping events took place on July 10. It was an Amazon’s Black Friday-like sales event called Amazon Prime Day. One item that caught my eye was Amazon’s Echo.

Echo” is a smart speaker with a microphone and “Alexa” is Amazon’s voice command system that resides within Echo. Amazon is not the only company offering a smart command system. There is also Google Now and the latest Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana. These personal voice command assistants have downloadable “skills” which allow you to verbally tell them to do certain things, such as obtain weather reports, create to-do list, play your favourite songs, make phone calls, and write and send text messages, order take-away food from Deliveroo or UberEat or even shop online.

The ease, speed and convenience of these voice command assistants is that you no longer have to speak into your phone, as Apple’s Siri requires.  Essentially, when the voice command assistant hears its wake-up word (a word users set to prompt Alexa to action), the voice command system responds to your voice command/s as long as you are within earshot of the speaker’s microphone. It is always on ready standby for your next command.

However, as with all things, there are limitations with these voice command systems. For example, you can only give one command at a time to the voice command assistant and may get mixed-up if you use more than one device or if you set the same wake up word for each device it could then get confusing for both the system and the user. These voice command assistants may also have unforeseen or unintended consequences for the user.

For example, if like to eat corn chips or are an early riser then Alexa will know this because it helped created your grocery list and it helped to set your alarm to wake you up each morning. Thus, Alexa collects data from its users, sends this information to the cloud and presumably captures and uses the information for marketing purposes. You might think to yourself that this data collection is not a big deal but what is the big deal?

The big deal is that Alexa, in this case, is owned by Amazon – one of the largest online shopping sites in the world. Think about it. Once awaken, Alexa hears (and saves) everything unless you push the mute button or delete the information from the voice command assistant. You might soon start to notice that you are now getting suggestions from Amazon as different brands of corn chips available at Amazon’s website or other suggestions for books on the early bird getting the worm.

These voice command systems offer the consumer an innovative way to communicate with their environment and this may be the wave of the future, but at what cost will this come?

Here are six things to think about:

  1. What are the ramifications if Alexa being “on” and it overhears a conversation you are having with your house guest? There is an interesting case in the United States where police demanded that Amazon turn over information from a murder suspect’s Echo. You need to think of the possible ramifications of personal privacy once these voice command assistants are turned on and installed in cars or home appliances.
  2. What are the limitations placed on companies when collecting, using or disclosing consumers’ personal information? How much control will you be willing to forego over the use of your personal information?
  3. Do these companies re-sell, barter, or disclose the information to other companies or governments, and under what circumstances?
  4. Do consumers actually read a company’s privacy policy? Generally, most people simply “accept” the privacy policy without much thought.
  5. Should consumers be paid for the information they provide via these voice command systems or is the opportunity to use a company’s services enough compensation for you? Information is a valuable commodity after all and personal information collected about you may be invasive.
  6. Are the privacy concerns regarding the collection of personal information by these companies over blown? After all, there are ways to mute the voice command or delete the information from the system, right? Do you know if this is really possible?

Finally, you’ve probably heard a version of the “nothing to hide argument” which often gets cited in discussions around privacy and surveillance. It goes something like this: “I am not worried about being surveilled by X because I have nothing to hide.

Edward Snowden, the American ex-NSA intelligence employee, who copied and leaked classified information about global surveillance programs once said, “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

So, what are you willing to give up for the ease, speed and convenience of using these voice command systems? Perhaps you need to think about it a bit more before you let devices collect personal information about you?

Fatimah Moran, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

Click here for information on the courses available at Staffordshire Business School

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3 Skills & Attributes To Focus On In The 21st Century!

As always graduation day was a very enjoyable and special day full of smiles, congratulations and a sense of having played a part (albeit a minor role) in someone’s life. This year I listened to Sarah Willingham, a fantastic entrepreneur, and as it happens a very inspiring speaker. Sarah’s story and advice was brilliant, poignant, uplifting and heartfelt and one word resonated with me and it was ‘Resilience’. “Remain resilient”, Sarah said.

I recalled my thoughts on employability attributes and skills in the 21st Century and how I can play a role in ensuring my students gain them. These skills go beyond disciplinary expertise and standard attributes such as:

• Oral & written communication
• Collaborator & networking skills
• Agility and adaptability
• Empathy and global stewardship
• Professionalism and self-regulation
• Critical thinking and problem solving
• Curiosity and imagination
• Initiative and entrepreneurialism
• Vision for the future.

I feel that there are three more attributes that are not focused on.
• Resilience
• Hope and optimism
• Grit

Resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties: toughness. This ability to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever, not allowing failure to overcome you. But how do I impart this ‘rubber ball’ ability? I decided to myself 3 questions:

• Do I help learners see failure as opportunity for growth?
• Do I encourage and reinforce learners own innate resiliency?
• Do I ensure each and every learner knows “You matter”?

Hope and optimism – confidence about the success of something or about the future, the glass being half full rather than half empty. Winston Churchill’s famous quote describes it well “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Again, I asked some questions:

• Do I role model, teach, reinforce positive self-talk?
• Do I encourage a can-do attitude?
• Do I use examples that portray how others have succeeded or overcome adversity?

Grit – courage and resolve; strength of character. You’ve got to love that word, say it out loud. It’s about perseverance for long term goals and again highlighting this to students.

• How do I give learners opportunities to work on long-term, complex projects?
• Do I assist my students in identifying perseverance?
• Do I acknowledge the rewards of persevering through tough times?

Since asking these questions of myself I have starting to notice positive events, promoted seeking of new experiences, encouraged and role modelled the development of a positive attitude and self-belief and fostered a culture of listening. This has given a focus on my teaching. I have engaged in positive talk, maintained perspectives and developed a positive attitude.

So, what attributes and skills do you think are important and need to be added? How would you / do you develop them? What am I missing here? Let me know in the comments.

Karl McCormack, Lecturer – Accounting & Business

Click here for information on the courses available at Staffordshire Business School

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Here’s to the Man in Manufacturing

Did you know that Volkswagen manufacture over 10.3 million cars per year, employ 600,000 people world-wide, shape 2,600 tons of steel every day in their Wolfsburg plant, are 96% automated in their production, produce 32 parts per minute on their press lines, use 35 different kinds of steel and produce more of their own component parts than any other automotive manufacturer? Nor did I, but this week I accompanied a group of Staffordshire University Business students on a Study Trip to Germany. We visited the Volkswagen manufacturing plant in Wolfsburg, the largest car plant in Europe.

I have been on a few factory tours in my time, but to say that I was amazed is an understatement. Within an archaic looking 1940’s building we were exposed to the wonders of modern technology, watching row upon row of environmentally friendly Kuka robots dancing to the tune of production, moving seamlessly to and fro in a whirlwind of activity, that culminated in the production of a new car every 18 seconds.

It is amazing to witness, but what is sadly more amazing is the disappearance of the human element of production. The employees were few and far between, taken over by a mass of machinery. In fact, we were told that of the 70,000 employees at the huge manufacturing plant at Wolfsburg, less than a third of them work in production, the remainder are all office workers.


It is predicted that robots will take over most jobs within 30 years and the development of humanoid robotic technology is moving at a frighteningly fast pace. As consumers, the number of transactions that we perform without ever seeing or speaking to a human being is increasing day by day with the development of touch-screen customer service systems, automated telephone lines and a variety of apps that we now consider essential for day-to-day living.

Whilst we embrace this on demand, responsive service to our consumer needs, I believe there is still a need for the human touch. The irony is, the factory tour that our students enjoyed so much was enhanced by our visitor tour guide, Robertino. Even down to him obligingly taking a selfie with us all. So for now, let’s keep the ‘man’ in manufacturing.

 

Angela Lawrence, Senior Lecturer in Marketing

Twitter @iteroange Facebook @angelawrence

Find out more about Staffordshire University Business Management Awards

 

 

Do not waste your time with useless SWOT analysis

How to conduct a SWOT analysis perfectly to boost your business!

SWOT is a simple and popular tool for businesses – everyone knows it. Therefore you can find it in a lot of books, blogs or trainings – business students learn about it everywhere. Most entrepreneurs conduct at least one before launching their business, most of which are far from perfect. Most of which are far from perfect.

The secret of the perfect SWOT is the analysis. Which means that you have to invest time and effort. It is not an idea-generation tool. SWOT is a strategy development tool – therefore it is not enough to collect some ideas for each area. SWOT may be simple – but not easy.

Why does your business need a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a strategy development method – it is indispensable for any new business. Specification of the objectives of the enterprise, identification of external and internal factors that have an impact on the success and positioning yourself in the market – these cannot be achieved without SWOT analysis. Even if you do not write down you have (sort of) a SWOT in your mind. With identification of the strengths and weaknesses it determines every marketing decision.

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool, therefore it is a must before starting your business planning. It is not just for new businesses, it is a vital part of any marketing plan. The environment, the customers, the competition are constantly changing, therefore you should update your SWOT regularly. SWOT analysis is a perfect tool to assess the effectiveness and determine the future of the organisation.

When you diversify your business or enter new markets – you need a marketing plan for that. One market – one strategy. B2C/B2B, different countries, digital – the markets are different. SWOT is a tool for strategy development, therefore any new market means a new SWOT.

It is also a good feedback for your team (and for you), it can function as a starting point for team discussions about the future in a specific business situation. Though the factors are mostly factual, their evaluation may be subjective.

You may not always conduct SWOT, but when you do, do it right.

Steps of the SWOT
Identification of the factors. Or data collection. Every SWOT analysis begins with the examination of the company and exploration of its environment: you have to identify the strengths and weaknesses and spot the threats and opportunities outside. Most of the students stop here, but this is a mistake. Because there is one more step.

Scrutiny of the factors (aka analysis). You should evaluate and classify your findings. Are you able to answer these questions:
– Why is this factor relevant? What is the impact of this?
– How can we use this factor in our strategy?

Identification of the factors – sources of information for SWOT
1. Customer data and feedback. The number of prospects, contacts, leads, clients and repurchasing clients. The structure and the activity of your customers. Customer value (Do you know it?) as the most important one. The feedback from customers in any channels: from social media to formal complaints.
2. Performance indicators and team feedback. Production rates, growth, market share, RoI. Campaign indicators: reach, activity (e.g. shares), cost per lead, website data (unique visitors, bounce rate, time spent, shopping cart abandonment), mail/advertising response rates. Personal indicators of your team.
3. Your financial performance – sales results, income, value of the company, investment, or any other information about the financial background and resources.
4. Market research – collect customer information (primary/secondary, qualitative/quantitative). Check forums, blogs, social media. Conduct a questionnaire survey. You can also research the supply chain or any other stakeholder group.
5. Information from the competitors. Public information: price lists, homepages, social media sites, stores and web shops, advertisements, publications, financial reports. Request proposals, use their services.
6. Your mission, objectives, marketing and financial plans, previous analyses.

In the SWOT you summarise your findings by grouping them into four areas: strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. Threats and opportunities are mostly external factors and trends, while strengths and weaknesses focuses on the business itself. The result is something like this:

Click here to download a SWOT template!

Do not stop here. Your SWOT is not ready yet. The SWOT is an analysis, you still have work to do: the analysis itself.

Scrutiny of the strengths and weaknesses
To evaluate them, first you have to answer three questions:
– Is it a competitive advantage?
– Are you really good at this?
– What is the perception of the customers?

High quality products can be a real strength of the company, but if the competitors (or some of them) are producing the same high-quality goods then quality does not differentiate your business. Should you even classify this as a strength? Yes. It is important to understand if you are good at something. Your team also need feedback (Your sales have a 90% closing rate, your customer satisfaction is close to 100% – can you tell your team that they are not a strength for the company?).
However only competitive advantages can give you the upper hand against your rivals. When anyone can achieve this, it becomes a necessity for the market.

Even if you are the best you still can improve. It is essential to understand that you are better than the competitors, but if your customers are not satisfied, you should improve. Can a 40% repurchase rate be a strength? A 4% sales funnel conversion rate? An 85% cart abandonment rate?
You can classify it as a strength – you can be the best with them – at this specific situation. Temporarily. But the decisions should be different in the case of a real strength of the company compared to a competitive-only strength.

It is also vital to examine the perception of customers. An unknown, but existing strength requires different actions than an alleged but non-existent one. Customers can draw conclusions without knowing the facts, for example perceived quality of a product is highly related to its price, country of origin or the retailer. Perceived value (→ satisfaction) of a product is based on customers’ expectations. Cognitive dissonance distorts our perception, customers are not rational.

When you are ready with this, take a look at the whole picture.
Which are the most important strengths of the company? Which are unique? Where to improve, what to communicate? Can the business save money on some strengths?
Can you deal with all the weaknesses at the same time? Is it vital to improve any of them for the survival of the company? Can something compensate the weaknesses?
You can use ABC (Pareto) analysis to classify your factors.

Draw your conclusions for strategy – you can start thinking about the implications here. What are the consequences of these factors to the strategic level of 4Ps? Branding, pricing strategy, communication strategy, product portfolio, partnerships – most of them are determined by the strengths and weaknesses.

Do not forget to communicate / discuss this with your team. It can be important feedback for them, a recognition of their results. You can also set targets with them.

Scrutiny of the threats and the opportunities
As for the opportunities, the most important question is the prerequisites. What should you do to capitalise on them? How can you make full use of all the opportunities? Can you start working on them now? Do you need money, knowledge, licence – or any other resource before you can act? What steps lead the opportunity to become reality?

Threats are more difficult. You should know:
– the odds of their occurrence
– the consequences (potential impact of occurrence)
– ways of prevention / protection

Rank them by importance (multiple the odds and impact): those with high impact or high probability need immediate action (prevention or preparation). The identification of the most vulnerable points will influence your marketing. Focus the company’s resources to the critical factors, and do the easy and obvious only for the rest.
It is also important to examine what you can do. Some threats can be avoided, others certainly become reality sooner or later. The objective of the analysis is to be ready. To understand the options and start acting. Sometimes it is just monitoring the environment and setting up triggers (reacting behaviour) – sometimes it is leading the changes (proactive behaviour).

Do you really need to conduct a quality SWOT analysis?
The real question is this: do you need any marketing for your success? Sometimes business works without marketing or DIY.

But whenever you work with a marketing expert, a consultant or an agency, you have to make sure that they understand your business and goals. SWOT – a quality one – is a good starting point for cooperation.

Andras Kenez, Lecturer in Marketing

Any questions? Email Andras.Kenez@staffs.ac.uk

Esports. Is it a game changer for UK education?

Staffordshire University Business School has become the first British University to launch an esports degree. The course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events.

Staffordshire University has invested heavily in new facilities as part of a £40m transformation of its Stoke-on-Trent campus and academics feel the University is well placed to plug into rapidly growing sectors like esports which is the practice of playing video games competitively over the internet or via networked computers in venues and stadiums.

Already Staffordshire University has responded to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment’s (Ukie) white paper on esports by introducing a module on esports in their Games Degree.

Back in January, Dr Fletcher, Head of the Games and Visual Effects at Staffordshire University said:

“The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for esports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by esports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”

Other countries around the world have recognised esports as part of the curriculum for some years.  In South Korea, where the first esports association was set up 17 years ago, they have been accepting esports players onto their sports programmes for four years. At the Asia Pacific University in Malaysia, students can complete certificates in League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Norway,  the Garnes Vidaregaande high school pupils can opt for esports and can study for up to five hours per week, they focus not just on game play but also combine physical exercise in the mix.

One thing all these esports educators have in common is an agreement that esports provides a vast amount of transferable skills to the participants.

Top skills for esports:

  1. Teamworking
  2. Resilience
  3. Stamina
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Communication
  6. Endurance
  7. Decision Making
  8. Leadership
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Analytical

The students on Staffordshire University Business School’s BA (Hons) esports will also have classes in event management, digital marketing, the legal side of esports and streaming techniques. This will make sure that when they leave university they’ll have all the right skills to prepare them for a great career. With huge growth predicted in this area there are lots of job opportunities.  Many recruitment agencies, like Odgers Berndston have set up separate divisions to deal with esports careers and there are even some new sites that have sprung up like ‘esports Careers’ who are currently listing almost 500 vacancies.  The British esports Association lists over 12 career paths on its website, here are a few:

  1. Shoutcaster/host
  2. Coach/analyst
  3. Journalist/content creator
  4. PR/Marketing executive
  5. Community/social media manager
  6. Broadcast/production crew
  7. Event manager

To find out more about esports at Staffordshire University Business School visit the website staffs.ac.uk.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean
Staffordshire University Business School

 

So you’ve graduated – now what?

5 top tips for new graduates from Senior Lecturer Angela Lawrence

Three years of study have come to an end, exams are over, the university board has sat, results announced and graduation is looming. It can be a worrying and scary time for many graduates as the intensity of those final assessments has been all-consuming for weeks and months. All of a sudden everything is over. There’s quite a gap in your life that you need to fill and you may be floundering and wondering what’s next. If you were smart, you began applying for graduate jobs at the beginning of the year, but even so, you may not yet have bagged the job of your dreams.

Here are a few tips to help you to stay focused on securing the graduate employment that you deserve:

  1. It’s a numbers game

Statistics suggest that 39 graduates apply for every advertised graduate position. So you are up against around 38 ex-students who are applying for the same jobs as you. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a while and you feel like you spend half of every week filling in applications – it’s a numbers game, the more jobs you apply for the better chance you will have of securing the role that’s right for you. Keep believing in yourself and keep on searching through the jobs sites; sooner or later your time will come.

  1. Perseverance is key

Don’t give up – NEVER give up! You have worked hard to earn your degree and you deserve to get a graduate position. Okay, you may have to accept a job that is less than what you want in the first instance, to make ends meet, but do not stop seeking out and applying for graduate positions.  It took three years to get your degree so it may take three months or more to secure that job that you are after.

  1. Keep in work

Work, work, work…and keep working! You may only be working part-time, working to help out a family member’s business or working as a volunteer, but you must keep working. Having that evidence on your CV that you have a strong working ethic speaks volumes to potential employers. Furthermore, you are probably practising a multitude of transferable skills, whatever the role. Skills that employers want to hear about, such as good timekeeping, the ability to work independently or as part of a team, the ability to be trusted, accuracy and attention to detail.

  1. Ask for feedback

If you have applied for a job and had no response within indicated timescales, then ring the company up and ask them if they have shortlisted applications yet. If they have and you are not on the list, ask them if they would mind telling you what the criteria for shortlisting was, so that you know for next time. If you actually got to an assessment board or had an interview, but were not successful in being offered the job, you must ask for feedback. It may simply be that another candidate had more relevant experience, or it may be that you find out it was something that you were lacking, that you could work on before your next interview. It may be the way you interviewed, possibly nerves were showing. So practise makes perfect and you now have that knowledge to help you to prepare yourself better for your next interview.

  1. Network

The saying goes “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. This is never more true than in the game of job hunting. It is stated that ninety-three percent of recruiters use LinkedIn for recruitment. So if you haven’t got a professional LinkedIn profile, you’re missing a trick. Join your alumni LinkedIn group and network with alumni who know only too well how hard it is to find that all-important break in the job hunting market. But offline networking can be equally important. Check out the local networking opportunities with your local Chamber of Commerce, and seek out recruitment fairs in your local area or in the region in which you would like to work.

A final tip for Staffordshire University graduates – don’t forget that you have access to our online careers portal, eCoach following graduation. Our Careers Network services are available to you for as long as you need them. Your lecturers and personal tutors will be happy to provide you with references, so good luck and we know you’ll do us proud!

Teaching and Learning: International Cooperation

The Business School has been working with a number of international partners to support their efforts to upgrade the curricula and enhance the teaching and learning experience of their students for many years now. We have had partners in most Central and South East European countries as well as the Middle East. The Teaching and Learning Conference on 20 June provides an opportunity to invite some of our current partners to join us for a day of activities to consolidate the work we have been doing over the year.

Teaching and Learning has always been the focus of attention of our partners mainly because of the contrast between the traditional ‘talk and chalk’ approach, which had been common in almost all our partner universities, and the modern student centred learning or other alternative approaches. The idea of having students sit on different tables in one classroom, doing different activities baffled some of our visiting colleagues (I am sure it still baffles some colleagues in this country). Assessment in any form other than oral exams was dismissed as not sufficiently rigorous and not appropriate at university level.  Group work, presentation, poster making and other methods of assessing students’ work was treated as not serious.

However, over the years, as the relationship with Western universities developed and EU funded programmes aimed at reforming, restructuring and upgrading the higher education systems and studies were implemented, the university environment and attitudes changed too. The change agents were the younger, Western educated lecturers who gradually entered the higher education sector and began to use methods which they had been exposed to during their time at Western universities. In the meantime, the student numbers had soared too. Students had become very choosy and, being technologically more savvy than their teachers, they could access advanced knowledge and information easier than their professors.  Professors, therefore, had to change their attitudes and raise their games to meet the challenges of a larger number of demanding students and modern technology.

Staffordshire University played an important part in the transformation of the teaching and learning approaches in many partner universities, especially in Albania, Croatia, Kosovo and Macedonia. While working with universities in these countries to upgrade their study programmes and enhance the capabilities of their teaching staff, we also trained a large number of their younger staff on our MBA and MSc/PhD in Economics. Almost all of these young graduates have returned to their universities and are contributing to the training of the next generation of economics and business students. Over the years, around 150 young scholars completed Masters and PhDs at SU, constituting a critical mass of knowledge and skill in the region and in some universities. They have been instrumental in bringing new teaching and learning methods to their universities, something that has been particularly appreciated by students.

Currently we have two EU-funded projects working with 11 universities in Kosovo and Albania. Both projects involve supporting their teaching and learning practices and improving their curricula with the aim of embedding employability skills in the syllabi of different courses. We have hosted a range of staff (from Rectors and Deans to senior professors and new lecturers) and introduced them to the Staffordshire Graduate programme and how it is evolving in different schools – and they are very interested in this programme particularly because they face high levels of graduate unemployment in their countries. Some of our colleagues have also participated in either teaching or running seminars for staff on curriculum development activities. Dr Jana Fiserova from the School of Business, Leadership and Economics, Dr Mohammad Hasan from the School of Computing and Digital Technologies, and myself, for example, were recently engaged in these activities in Kosovo.

In the week beginning 19 June, we will be hosting young lecturers from three universities in Kosovo (University of Prishtina, Riinvest College, University of Business and Technology) and two universities in Albania (University of Tirana and Agricultural University of Tirana). Among other activities, they will be participating in the Teaching and Learning Conference on 20 June. They will be interested to learn about our efforts to improve students’ learning experience by using innovative methods, new technology and a variety of assessment methods that encourage student engagement with the subject and with the graduate attributes. They will also share with us their experience of a different group of students and different teaching environment. In some of these universities, staff have to deal with hundreds of students on their modules and, therefore, are eager to find out how we deal with large classes and how they can adopt some of these methods in their settings. At the same time, their experience of working in universities (and countries) with greater resource constraints would also be of interest to our colleagues.

We look forward to the exchange of ideas on 20 June.

Professor Iraj Hashi

School of Business, Leadership and Economics

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