The Importance of Employability Skills – Get Ready for Employability Challenge!

Without a doubt, one of the main challenges for students today is that different employers look for different sets of employability skills. However, it can be difficult for students to think about their employability skills whilst at university given busy schedules and pressure to meet assignment deadlines.

At Staffordshire University we take employability promise seriously. We want all of our students to graduate with the right employability skills and experience to enable them to follow their chosen career path. We promise our students to equip them with relevant employment skills and we deliver on our promise. We are proud about the fact that 97% of our graduates are in employment after graduating. When it comes to employability of our graduates, we are proud to be No. 1* in England for graduate employability. To achieve this, we work in partnership with many industry-leading organisations to help them tap into our home-grown graduate talent as well as helping students develop their employability skills through various initiatives and practices such as mentoring and work-shadowing. Global Entrepreneurial Week (GEW) event held at Staffordshire University every year plays the key role in equipping graduates with relevant work-related skills.

At Staffordshire University, we are committed to helping students maximise their employability and ultimately finding their dream graduate job, by offering a range of career-related events. In particular, GEW is an annual event at Staffordshire University that brings together a range of industry leading employers on campus during which students can meet and network with employers to find out about employment opportunities. Organised specifically for students, GEW and FutureFest event is designed to inform students about the future world-of-work. The Staffordshire University is committed to helping students maximise their employability, therefore the program is centred on topics that can help students succeed in every step of their career development process.

However, whilst we are committed to bringing leading business experts to share their expertise with students, there is also an expectation from students to actively participate in this event in order to get the most out of this unique opportunity for their career development. How to make the most out of this event? Network, network, network. Forward thinking students always have their CVs on hand to give out to potential employers. If you have never written a CV, you could get a professional help from the Career Office, who would assist you in writing a professionally looking CV, highlighting your transferable skills, and any work experience you have to date.

GEW and FutureFest event will provide students with an excellent opportunity to meet employers, discuss job opportunities, better understand career opportunities across various industries, get industry insights from recruiters, network with Industry leaders or simply get inspired. So, if you’re looking for your dream job or just looking to further enhance your employability skills, come along to GEW and FutureFest event held at Staffordshire University on November 13. We look forward to active participation of students in GEW and FutureFest 2017!

Dr Katerina Thomas, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School

www.staffs.ac.uk

 

*Joint with Bishop Grosseteste University, excluding specialist institutions. Source: DLHE 2017

Can we trust what we see?

What is ‘quality’- standards, atmosphere, experience, reputation, education, consistency and doing it right no matter what. In a forever changing environment how are businesses meant to keep up with quality standards, changing standards and awarding bodies. Ford cited in Andersen (2013) stated ‘Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.’  Is looking the same as seeing? And who can we trust when it comes to quality?

We have to get it right no matter- what, who, how many staff have phoned in sick or when the tea spoon fairy paid you a visit.  Quality is based on opinion and expectation rather than star rating, price or quantity. We have brand reputation and businesses are forever trying to encourage staff to not just meet expectations but to exceed! To stay on top you must stand out, and one way is to exceed customer expectations.

We are now living in a very ‘personal age’ it’s not just a burger it’s your burger. Your name is on products and services are tailored to your individual needs. Businesses need to get staff to understand what guest expectations are and to understand it’s the personal touch that guest will remember and share.

It’s really hard on a busy shift when we have to serve a guest, answer the phone and close the fridge door all at the same time! This is why is it harder than ever to actually see rather than just look! Guest have their own expectations and we have to try and surpass these without even knowing what they are! When I see a restaurant that has dirty plates on the tables, I think wow they’ve been busy. But others might see- staff aren’t being very efficient. Expectations and perceptions are different and very hard to manage.

If you want to try and understand how to manage guest expectations and find out more about quality and exceeding customer expectations  register and complete a quality module for free using our on line training tool. There are 11 modules to choose from: – Quality, Seasonality, Training and Energy Controls. Click here to register and complete for free: – http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Tonia Barrett, Staffordshire Business School

 

Reference

Andersen, E. (2013) 21 Quotes from Henry Ford on Business, Leadership and Life. [Online] Available from: – https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/05/31/21-quotes-from-henry-ford-on-business-leadership-and-life/#5dd7a464293c [accessed 19.07.2017]

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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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Winter Is Coming

Winter is coming, and I just can’t wait. I don’t mean log fires, mulled wine and snow on the ground – I mean Mr. Jon Snow on our screens! I’ve been looking forward to season seven of Game of Thrones since season six ended! This is just one kind of season I look forward too, closely followed by Spring, Rugby and Pimms season. Seasons are very important to our businesses, adapted from Corluka (2017) Tourism as an integral part of global business and are highly dependent on seasonal changes, economic activities as well as human behaviour and society in general.

Agricultural, Tourism, Hospitality, Sporting and Construction industries all have different peak seasons and the down time is equally as important to manage as the money making time. It’s not an easy task to manage fluctuations and imbalances of weather, guests, staff, stock or equipment. It is more than an art and a career to manage seasonality and all the impacts they have on different parts of your business.

Winter is not a season it’s an occupation – the hospitality industry really looks forward to Christmas when families, friends and business associates gather to celebrate the festive period. We rely on and look forward to serving the guests and we enjoy the busy demands of figuring out the master puzzle of where is the entire matching cutlery gone from last year! It’s a long, hard slog to get everyone served and to keep everyone happy. When the quiet New Year months arrive we can enjoy a hot drink ‘hot’ which is a real novelty. With our hot drink in hand we have time to look at the business and reflect on the successes and potential improvements to be made for next season. We need and rely on this quiet season to plan and conduct training and development, as well as rewriting and reviewing policies, procedures and making organisational changes for future successful seasons. Within the sporting world the best athletes are made during the ‘off season’ and this should be the same for us.

Our industry needs the down-time to reboot, recharge and regenerate and we must use this time wisely. So if this is your quiet season and you are actually waiting for the real winter season and the festive period why not get some training under your aprons! We have developed an online training website where you can choose from 11 modules to complete for free. All you need is an internet connection, there are short quizzes at the end of each module and they are designed around your individual business needs. It only takes a few minutes to register and log on and then you have 11 fantastic modules at your fingertips.  Some of the modules include: – sustainable food and drink tourism, Social media and marketing, Seasonality, quality and training. Anyone can use the system, it is designed around Tourism and the Hospitality industry and is 100% free to register and complete. Use this on line tool to spring forward!  Click here to register and start your free online training today:-  http://smartour.dcnet.eu/

Tonia Barrett, Staffordshire Business School

Reference

Corluka, G. (2017). Seasonality in Tourism- causes, implications and strategies. [online] Available from:- www.academic.edu [Accessed on 17.07.2017]

Useful links

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

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject/

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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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Free online training tourism tool now available – SMARTOUR

Thinking about going into the tourism industry ? Or maybe you work there already but have never had training?

We have a free online tool to help you develop. It was developed by and with the tourism industry – here is the list of topics available:

  • Accessibility – what is the scope and potential of this growing market for those with access needs?
  • Sustainable Supply Chains – what are the actions needed to get the most from your local supply chain?
  • Sustainable Food and drink tourism – how important is food and drink for the tourist offer? and what simple low cost actions can you take
  • Social media and marketing – developing your markets and guidance on social media
  • Seasonality – developing a plan for seasonality
  • Quality – what is service quality and how does it link to the visitor experience?
  • Training – planning and thinking about training for staff
  • EU Quality Principles – a simple and practical guide to EU Quality principles
  • Energy Controls – why you need to control energy
  • Interpreting Energy Bills – looking at energy bills and saving money
  • Indoor Air Quality – what affects customer comfort in rooms?

Each unit last between 30 mins and 1 hour – a simple test is available at the end of each module.

The tool can be found here smartour.dcnet.eu

and here is some guidance on the registration process to get started. Fill this out correctly and the tool will generate a certificate you can print out (depending on your results).

SMARTOUR Online Training Tool ppt 

Useful links

Project website – http://www.smartourproject.eu/

Twitter @tourismsu   #SMARTOUR

Facebook page -Sustainable Tourism in Europe https://www.facebook.com/smartourproject 

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19 great events for Autumn 2017

There’s always lots going on in the region, music, comedy, food and drink festivals. Here’s my personal pick

September

October

November

December

Keep up to date with events by following our twitter feed @tourismsu

You might like our guide to Key visitor information and recommended markets

Details of our Tourism and Events courses are here 

jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk  01782 294094