Staffordshire Business School adapt Digital Marketing courses to respond to business needs

Following the successful government-funded Small Business Leadership Programme, in conjunction with the Small Business Charter, Staffordshire Business School has enhanced the digital marketing courses to respond to identified business needs.

Issues emerged from the Small Business Leadership Programme

The programme allowed us to work with businesses nationally to understand their key challenges across business operations and provide guidance on how to survive and thrive in a continuously transforming environment. Naturally, businesses have their unique needs, however there were overarching themes identified which impact success. Whilst there have been developments in accessibility of training, digital marketing continues to be highlighted as a significant area with skills gaps. Particularly with the rise in e-commerce as a necessary approach for selling products and services due to the pandemic(Statista, 2020).

The Changing Consumer

It is no secret that in 2020 we saw accelerated changes in the way in which consumers engage with businesses. With 56.3% of the world’s population now on social media (We Are Social, 2021), changing customer expectations is not something that we can ignore. Operationally, we have learned that there is not the required time on a day to day basis to address those vast changes. The Small Business Leadership Programme enabled us to work practically with those businesses to ensure that understanding their audience is not something that is simply discussed in theory, but can be executed. This concept, coupled with working with businesses first hand, is embedded within course curriculum to ensure that the relevant skills are developed prior to entering the professional environment.

Attracting New Business

It is clear from the challenges caused by COVID-19, that if customers are not acquired and retained, business survival is put under great pressure (Hubspot, 2020). But how exactly do we use the right channels to attract new business? Through social listening, strategising against objectives and harmonising with business values, our connected business were able to ‘see the wood from the trees’ when striving for growth. As a digital society, we are inundated with options for promotion. This in fact has been a key barrier for our businesses, who found that perhaps too may options caused confusion of where they should be engaging.

Practical Ways to Plan and Rebuild for the Future

Overall, a general consensus across the five cohorts on the Small Business Leadership Programme was that planning for the future was most challenging, particularly with the reality of the changing environment often being faster than what they could plan for. We supported those businesses to think proactively, utilising guidance from our Entrepreneurs in Residence and to only use reactive approaches when relevant changes emerged for their business. We identify here that in order to support these business challenges, a flexible learning framework is key to any individual developing themselves within digital marketing.

Responding to the identified skills gaps, specifically with SME’s nationally, Staffordshire Business School provides a wide range of Digital Marketing courses focusing on industry expected knowledge, alongside fundamental skills needed to succeed in a professional environment. See our list of available courses below.

There are still places available on all courses, starting September 2021. Our variety of courses support a flexible approach to studying, with options for all experience levels.

New book – City Regions and Devolution in the UK

David Beel (MMU), Martin Jones (Staffordshire University) and Ian Rees Jones (Cardiff University) have a new book out.

About the book

Rich in case study insights, the book provide a critque of city-region building and considers how governance restructuring shapes the political, economic, social and cultural geographies of devolution. Case studies include Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Swansea Bay City Region, Cardiff Capital Region and the North Wales Growth Deal.

Book cover

To purchase the book follow this link

An open access EPDF and EPUB is available on this link

Martin Jones is Deputy Vice Chancellor and Professor of Human Geography at Staffordshrie University. He works closely with colleagues in Staffordshire Business School on regional industrial startegy and the political economy. He tweets @spatialityjones

What we learn becomes part of who we are

Tonia Barrett, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


Most students decide to go to University as they want to learn, experience university life, meet friends, improve chances in their career, and gain more independence. Our Foundation Degree in Visitor Attraction and Resort Management (VARM) students achieve all of this and so much more. They leave with memorable and life changing experiences, broader knowledge, in depth understanding, increased determination, the skills to overcome challenges, an improved level of responsibility and time management skills. Are these skills you want to improve? Are you ready for a new challenge? Fancy meeting friends that that overtime become family? What we learn becomes part of who we are, check us out.

Past and present VARMers who currently work at Alton Towers Resort. May 2021. [Department’s expedience include: – marketing, conference and banqueting, Scarefest, security and control, SeaLife, rides, product excellence, admission, finance, Food and Beverage, Health and safety, entertainments to name a few.]

I have the great pleasure to be part of a growing programme full of enthusiastic, energetic, innovative, creative, humorous, and imaginative learners. This educational experience isn’t going to be easy, but after 2 years of studying, and gaining employment at Alton Towers resort there will be no doubt in your mind that it will all be worth it. Our VARM course looks for quality over quantity, so you won’t be in a room with hundreds of other learners, just liked minded people like you. We don’t strive for perfection at every entrance gate, we train, teach, stretch, and individually challenge you to develop as for us we are looking for progression not perfection in both your academic studies and your employment experiences. While studying you will take part in debates, discussions, individual and group assessments, you will design your own Visitor Attraction business, you will investigate, read, research, and analyse current practices. This course is a unique and bespoke opportunity for you to grow personally and professional in a friendly orientated environment that is supportive and inclusive to all learners.  You will gain support from University specialists from a wide field of organisational areas to include Tourism, Events and Hospitality.

Tonia Barrett, dedicated lecturer, and author of the blog with Harry Peek who graduated VARM 2018 and then gradated with a Top up in June 2019.

The VARM adventure includes 10-weeks paid placement in the UK’s leading theme park, Alton Towers Resort. The greatest showman once wrote ‘The noblest art is to make others happy’ (P. T. Barnum) and through your employment opportunities in the resort you will find yourself engrossed in delivering outstanding customer service, you will be able to build your communication skills, problem solving techniques, teambuilding as well as your own personnel management skills. While on your rollercoaster adventure, you will have the opportunity to gain access in student lead meetings with the Senior Leadership Team at the resort as well other unique opportunities. The exposure to these career driven individuals, not only helps with the writing of your assessments but also helps with your own career, motivation, networking, and drive to achieve your own dreams.  

We are so much more than an educational establishment, we know through hard work, reflection, determination, motivation, and our support and guidance we can help turn your dreams into reality. As my favourite professor once said, ‘It’s not our abilities, but our choices that make us who we are.’ Dumbledore, Harry Potter.  Throughout the success of VARM, it has been evidenced that the more you put in, the more you get out. Read the testimonials below from current and previous students, and then ‘make the right choice’.

Year 1 students on placement May 2021. [Departments include: – rides areas, product excellence, retail, Food and Beverage, Human Resources, admissions, SeaLife, gardens, housekeeping, and water park.]

Testimonials

Matt. Street Performer/Dungeon Attraction Manager. Graduated from VARM June 2021, moving into BA Business Management in September 2021. ‘Staffordshire University has given me the freedom to independently gain skills and understanding of the leisure industry, supported by teaching of theories and processes which can be applied throughout my job robes at Alton Towers Resort.’


Cameron. Animal Information Host at Shark Bait Reef by Sea Life. Graduated VARM June 2021, Business Top Up planned for September 2021.

Varm has been Fun, Friends and Fulfilment in myself. I’ve gained independence whilst being at Staffs both in my studies and work life. Grateful for all the opportunities and have really pushed and developed myself.  A Clearer idea of where I want to work in the future thanks to the placements and working I’ve widened my network at Alton Towers.


Nick. Guest Relations Manager. Distinction achieved in Fda Visitor Attraction & Resort Management, graduated June 2020. Currently studying Business management BA top-up. ‘VARM provides students with the chance to learn, gain experience and make unforgettable memories. Personally for me delivering a wealth of knowledge, after six enticing placements around the resort.’


Harry. Retail Team Leader. Level 4 VARM student, progressing to level 5 in September 2021. “Throughout my first year on the VARM course at Staffordshire University I have gained skills within a professional, safe, academic environment which I have been able to display through my work placements at Alton Towers Resort



Student Placements

2nd placement for year 1 students in December 2019. Christmas event at Alton Towers Resort Hotel.
Tom, current student. Galactica’s ride area in the portal
VARM takeover in the product excellence team. VARM year 1s, 2s, BA top up students from Business and Events.

Does innovation determine how happy we are?

Ema Talam, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


Innovation is of great importance for economies, firms, but also us as individuals. In this blog, we are going to briefly discuss how innovation is impacting our everyday life.

Broadly speaking, innovation refers to new or improved products, processes or methods. Innovative products and services have greatly shaped our lives – the way we perform simplest of daily tasks, study, work or spend our leisure time. Think about how many of your daily tasks would be performed in the same way or differently a decade or a century ago. Would you prepare your food, keep up with your friends and family, undertake your studies or perform any part your job in the same way? It is likely that the answer to (at least some of) these questions is no! The extent of the importance of various innovative products and services (think about smartphones, computers, various apps, etc.) has been, even more than ever, apparent during the pandemic.

Innovation – e.g. development of the vaccine and availability of different technologies – has affected significantly how we coped with the pandemic and our way out of the pandemic. Economists suggest that our ability to work from home has prevented more catastrophic consequences of the pandemic on the economy (Bloom, 2021). In my previous blog, I wrote about how the pandemic has affected firms and in particular, how it affected innovation undertaken by firms. To be able to survive, large number of firms relied on innovation. For example, firms decided to sell their products online as they were unable to sell their products in any other way, or to introduce completely new products. These innovations may even have prevented some firms from closing and employees were able to keep their jobs.

Why does it matter for us if the firms operating around us are more or less innovative? Besides the obvious reason – availability of certain and potentially superior products and services – the research has shown that innovative firms pay higher wages to their employees (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002). Being employed in an innovative firm can benefit workers performing jobs that require different ranges of skills. Using the data for the United Kingdom for the period 2004-2016, Aghion et al. (2019) show that employees in some of the low skilled occupations employed in innovative firms earn more compared to their counterparts employed in firms that do not innovate.

Finally, does innovation have any impact on our quality of life or well-being? The answer seems to be yes! There are number of anecdotal evidences that might support this. Again, think about different technologies that we relied on during the pandemic. Additionally, the research has shown the existence of the link between innovation and our subjective well-being (Dolan and Metcalfe, 2012).

Steve Jobs once said that it is innovation that distinguishes between leaders and followers and this applies to many areas of life – not just business. Innovation is an ingredient without which the world would not be able to thrive and as we have seen, innovation impacts all of us and all spheres of life, including our well-being and quality of our lives.


References:

Aghion, P., Bergeaud, A., Blundell, R., and Griffith, R. (2019) ‘The innovation premium for soft skills in low skilled occupations’, CEP Discussion Paper. Available at: https://cep.lse.ac.uk/_NEW/PUBLICATIONS/abstract.asp?index=6763 (Accessed: 19 June 2021)

Bleaney, M., and Wakelin, K. (2002) ‘Efficiency, innovation and exports’, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 64(3), pp. 3-15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0084.00001

Bloom, N. (2021) Working from home is working. What it will look like post-pandemic?. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUByJJgPlAo (Accessed: 19 June 2021)

Dolan, P., and Metcalfe, R. (2012) ‘The relationship between innovation and subjective wellbeing’, Research Policy, 41, pp. 1489-1498. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2012.04.001

Webinar: Air Quality Inequity for Clean Air Day 2021

On Clean Air Day 17th June 2021, the Environment Agency will be hosting presentations and panel discussions on environmental equity and presenting interim findings from the ‘Joint Air Quality Health Inequalities’ project. Join us to hear the latest air quality and inequity updates with a focus on the ‘lived experiences’ of those most effected by inequity.

Date: Thursday 17th June 2021 Time 10:00 – 12:00

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84418088277?pwd=L09oU0grYkYraFBVeEVMbTJWTkp2QT09

Meeting ID: 844 1808 8277 Passcode: 7ARbT0

Overview:

At a population level air pollution presents the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Air pollution can lead to both short and long term health term issues for all, but impacts on some groups more than others, such as the young and elderly, minority ethnic communities, those living in areas of high deprivation, those with existing health inequities and those working in high exposure jobs. We know that the inequities gap is widening and that these inequities have been exacerbated by Covid-19.

Webinar 1# : Inequities, Challenges, ‘AQ Inequalities Project’ Summary & Review

Overview: Framing key issues and the main challenges that exist, as well as presenting interim findings from the ‘Joint Air Quality Inequalities’ project.

Time: 10:00 – 11:00

  • Presentation on ‘Joint Air quality Inequalities Project’ – Joe Swift & Julian Watkins (Environment Agency)

Webinar 2#: Lived Experiences – Outcomes/Actions/Solutions

Overview: NGO and community action and lived experience; exploring success stories; interventions and innovative projects.

Time: 11:00 – 12:00

  • Panel discussion

#CleanAirDay

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84418088277?pwd=L09oU0grYkYraFBVeEVMbTJWTkp2QT09

Meeting ID: 844 1808 8277 Passcode: 7ARbT0 Time 10.00-12.00 17th June

Author details

Jon Fairburn is Professor Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University. He maintains an air quality list on twitter here. You can access his publications here.

Email jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Clean Air Day 2021
#CleanAirDay 2021

Digital Entrepreneurship in the Wake of Covid-19

As part of Staffordshire University’s Innovation Enterprise Zone webinar series, Professor Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and Enterprise and Julia Roberts, Entrepreneur in Residence of Staffordshire Business School presented a webinar titled ‘Digital Entrepreneurship in the wake of Covid-19’ on 5th May 2021. The presentation explored and discussed a range of opportunities of the digital transformation accelerated by Covid-19 for digital entrepreneurship from both research and practice perspectives. (https://www.staffs.ac.uk/events/2021/05/digital-entrepreneurship-in-the-wake-of-covid-19)

Please email fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk should you wish to know more.

Waking up from a Pandemic: Some personal reflections and questions

Dr Jenny Gale – Senior LEcturer, STaffordshire Business SChool


One of the initial objectives of the incoming Conservative government in 1979 was to reduce the size (cost) of the public sector through a major privatisation programme.  This included British Telecom in 1984, British Gas in 1986, British Steel in 1988, Water in 1989, and Electricity in 1990 to 1991.  However, reducing the size and cost of the public services presented a more difficult challenge. As well as contributing to social stability, public services that are free at the point of delivery are politically sensitive, due to their value and importance in the eyes of the British electorate. Disposing of a free public good through wholesale privatisation would evoke too much hostility, risking serious social and political consequences. Furthermore, unlike other tangible products, public services cannot be stored, making the prospect of disruption of services highly undesirable. Consequently, attention turned to neo-liberalism including the ‘marketisation’ of the public services, as a way of  reducing their cost and drain on the UK economy.

The above is an abridged excerpt from my PhD, completed in 2008.  I revisited it recently during my personal reflections after a year of social restrictions and unprecedented government intervention to shore up businesses and peoples’ working lives.  At the time I wrote my thesis I harboured that familiar feeling of unease that something was lurking in our future.  Something that would force a re-think of these ideas and about how we should work and live particularly with regards to climate change and our provisions for managing future health crises. 

The debates relating to the value of public services-vs-being a drain on the economy, particularly with regard to health has been thrust back into the spotlight in a way that was, actually, not hard to imagine and was in fact predicted (but not really acted on).  Sure, there was always the possibility of a pandemic, after all they have happened before and during a time when the NHS didn’t even exist.  However, the 21st century, characterised by a complex technological and geographical inter-connectedness has intensified the pursuit of economic wealth accompanied by the sheer speed of capital, people (and viruses) moving around the globe. The pursuit of wealth and its continuing concentration into fewer, ever more powerful hands, was already argued to be a glaring betrayal of the needs of humanity – ‘Profit over People’ to quote the title of a publication by Noam Chomsky.   

Dame Vivienne Westwood and actor Ralf Little joined a march in London in protest at NHS underfunding. Photograph: Szymanowicz/REX/Shutterstock

In the UK, the media, public service employees and their unions have highlighted the lack of investment (often disputed by government ministers) in the NHS – OK, whatever.  However, neither austerity nor any supposed investment prepared us for COVID.  Like many people, I am now reflecting on certain questions.  Will the investment in scientific endeavour as a way of improving human health, equality and the planet increasingly morph into meaningful international cooperation on a grand scale?  Are governments going to press on with neo-liberal, free-market policies and consumerism despite their inability to build a prosperous and fair global society for most people?  Or, will we see a return to the Big State long-term and if so, what other problems would that create and for who?

Alternatively, are we heading towards a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism (circa 2030) where, apparently, ‘you will own nothing and you will be happy’, because you will rent everything from those who do? Note that the wealthy and powerful proposing this ‘alternative’ at the World Economic Forum did not say ‘we will have nothing, and we will be happy’.  Such a ‘Great Reset’ could further increase dependency on fewer but bigger and more powerful players providing our commodities – is this a solution, or a magnification of the existing problem?  

Anyway, our current political spectrum is unlikely to produce the necessary vision for business, health or the environment particularly while those with vested interests in the status quo keep calling the shots.  If the combined crises of a pandemic and global warming are not enough for us all to really ‘wake up’ and work collaboratively towards a new vision, nothing ever will be (apart from maybe an alien invasion or a very large meteorite!).

Is there a chance of rejoining the EU?

Professor Geoffrey Pugh, Staffordshire Business SChool


This blog considers the political potential for the UK to rejoin the EU in, say, the next ten to 15 years.

Before the 2016 Referendum, Leavers displayed most of the passion. Remainers tended to be lukewarm in their support for the EU. Yet, after the Referendum, there was an upsurge in commitment to “Europe” – displayed in hundreds of thousands marching and six million people signing a petition to cancel Brexit – with a consistent minority wanting to commit to rejoining. If remainers display the kind of commitment displayed by UKIP, so the argument goes, then over time the ground might be prepared for a similarly spectacular reversal.

Whether this perspective can gain traction depends on both (i) long-run demographic and cultural changes in the UK and (ii) economic developments in the UK but also in the EU. Rob Ford and Maria Sobolewska (https://ukandeu.ac.uk/demographic-change-public-opinion-and-brexit/) demonstrate that generational change and the increasing share in the UK population of graduates are steadily increasing the relative political weight of the more Europhile social groups.

Against the background of long-run demographic and cultural trends, the point of this article is to argue that economic developments in both the UK and the EU will also be a major influence on the politics of rejoining. My argument can be reduced to a 2´2 matrix highlighting four potential outcomes.

  1. Economic performance in both the UK and the EU continues to be “bad”. By bad, I mean average annual economic growth at around one per cent (so that a doubling of average living standards takes about 70 years). This is almost too slow to notice and too little to satisfy competing demands.
  2. Economic performance in both the UK and the EU proves to be “good”, which means average annual economic growth at around 2.5 per cent (so that a doubling of average living standards takes less than 30 years). This should be sufficient to address competing claims on national income (e.g. for both reducing regional inequalities and investing in green technologies).
  3. Economic performance in the UK is “good” but in the EU “bad”.
  4. Economic performance in the UK is “bad” but in the EU “good”.

In each of the four cells, I add the implications for a successful campaign to create momentum to rejoin the EU.

Post-Brexit economic outcomes (Bad or Good) and
prospects for a movement to rejoin (cell contents)

Next, I explain (i) the economic reasoning that makes each set of outcomes plausible together with (ii) the reasoning behind each set of implications.

1) EU “bad” + UK “bad”.

Productivity growth (as measured by, say, the value of output per worker per year) has been very low in all the developed countries since the Global Financial Crisis. If this “secular stagnation” continues, then the economic outlook for the EU and UK alike is “bad”. The UK has probably made a bad situation somewhat worse by weakening trade integration with the EU, which will reduce incentives for the most innovative and productive firms to invest, produce and employ in the UK.

For its part, the EU seems unable to resolve the macroeconomic imbalances and consequent growth constraints imposed by the single currency. For different countries to share a single currency, their economies need to be much more deeply integrated than is the current position in the Eurozone. For example, if some countries are experiencing trade deficits and recession (e.g. Italy) while others are in surplus and growing (e.g. Germany) then to compensate for the absence of independent monetary policy (which would enable Italy to reduce interest rates and depreciate its currency) there needs to be offsetting fiscal transfers (enabling Italy to contribute less tax outflow and/or receive revenue inflows). However, fiscal transfers on a significant scale require a federal state with a very large budget. This is why the UK and USA are successful monetary unions (in both cases, around 40 per cent of GDP passes through the hands of central government). In contrast, the EU is not (the EU budget accounts for around only one per cent of EU GDP, although this is set to double in the next seven-year fiscal period as a result of the Next Generation EU Fund).

In the medium to long term, EU members (or, strictly speaking, the Eurozone countries) will either move towards greater integration or accept a continued brake on growth together with divergence in the economic performance of member states. In this situation, the EU will have little to gain from the renewed membership of a country likely to resist deeper integration. At the same time, lacklustre EU performance will be a strong disincentive to the UK to rejoin.

2) EU “good” + UK “good”.

Technological progress resulting in new fields of productive investment, high-wage employment and growth could provide a favourable context for pursuing different national growth models. In the UK it is possible that Brexit will administer a shock enabling useful reforms – e.g. under the banner of the now fashionable “industrial policy” – that will enable productivity growth to recover along with wages and output. For its part, the EU might achieve greater political integration and, on this platform, underpin the single currency with a transfer union, thereby enabling macroeconomic imbalances to be resolved and better advantage to be taken of the single currency for trade and investment. In this scenario, political pressure for the UK to rejoin is likely to be muted within the UK and to find little support from within the EU.

3) EU “good” + UK “bad”.

In this scenario, the EU establishes the political prerequisites for a single currency and sustained growth, while the UK experiences the downside of Brexit with few offsetting benefits. Faced with a thriving EU and the steady drip-drip effect of bad news about the UK economy, the apologists for Brexit may find their excuses wearing thin. The appeal of “sovereignty” may fade in the face of lack of tangible outcomes and with the passing of the generation for whom the idea of sovereignty signifies much of importance. Conversely, an increasing number of younger voters may be attracted by the relative success of the EU.

4) EU “bad” + UK “good”.

In the event of continued political and consequent economic failure in the EU combined with a successful model in the UK, re-joining a failed EU is likely to have little attraction outside the ranks of the ideologically committed.

From these four scenarios, only the third – EU “good” + UK “bad” – reinforces favourable long-run demographic and cultural trends with an economic environment in which a “rejoin” movement might gain traction. So how likely is this scenario? To answer this question, we calculate a probability for each cell in the matrix. This involves making some big assumptions; however, these can be adjusted for different judgements and thus different numbers.

My assumptions are as follows.

  • For the EU, “Bad” and “Good” economic outcomes are equally likely (remember, the Eurozone did survive the last outbreak of the euro crisis and the will among member states to make the EU work is greater than typically recognised in the UK). So, we assume that both outcomes have a probability of 0.5.
  • For the UK, let’s say that the “Bad” and “Good” economic outcomes are also equally likely, each with a probability of 0.5.

These are my preferred assumptions, because – in my view – long-run forecasts about the relative performance of economies do not permit any greater precision. However, many will disagree. On the one hand, Europhiles might prefer the following indicative scenarios and corresponding probabilities: Britain is most likely doomed to decline outside of the EU (80% chance of a “bad” outcome for the UK); and the EU will be economically successful as it progresses towards an “ever expanding union of the European peoples” (80% chance of a “good” outcome for the EU). On the other, Eurosceptics might reverse these probabilities: seeing great opportunities for a Britain freed from the deadweight of inflexible regulations and an EU endlessly preoccupied by attempts to reconcile the contradictions of a doomed single currency. Allowing for caricature, such views are common among the hard cores of the respective camps.

According to my 50-50 assumption, each of the four outcomes depicted in the matrix have a probability of 0.25 (0.5´0.5=0.25, i.e. a one-in-four chance). If you are not a gambler, then odds of three to one against a favourable economic environment for rejoining – i.e. EU “good” + UK “bad” – might be discouraging.[1] Yet, for revolutionaries, these are rather good odds.

The “hard core” in both camps will take comfort from different assumptions:  on the indicative 80-20 assumptions,

  • Europhiles will see overwhelmingly favourable economic terrain for re-joining (an 80% chance of a “good” EU outcome and an 80% chance of a “bad” UK outcome jointly suggest a 80% ´ 80% = 64% probability of Outcome 3, favourable to re-joining, while
  • Eurosceptics will see a 20% chance of EU “good” and a 20% chance of UK “bad” outcomes, hence 20% ´ 20% = 4% probability of Outcome 3, so virtually no chance of a future case for re-joining on economic grounds.

Europhile assumptions suggest an increasingly supportive economic context for rejoining, and even for European federalism, should Britain prove unable to turn its new found sovereignty into economic advantage. Yet the EU’s trajectory towards, and economic need for, a deepened “union of the European peoples” currently has little support in the UK, even among remainers (Rob Ford and Maria Sobolewska note that “60% of Remain voters in the 2016 British Social Attitudes survey also wanted to see the EU’s powers reduced”). Consequently, even in a political environment in which demography, cultural change and economic developments create opportunity for undoing the UK’s current “hard Brexit”, political agency will be decisive. If a “rejoin” movement succeeds in winning hearts and minds, thereby moving European Federalism into the political mainstream, then a majority may be created for the UK to rejoin a future, more deeply integrated EU. Conversely, if the argument is conducted on the basis of an instrumental balancing of costs and benefits, then the outcome may well be prolonged renegotiation leading to closer cooperation – heading towards a “Norway” type of relationship – rather than to renewed membership.


[1] Each outcome has a probability of 0.25 (i.e. a one-in-four chance). Three outcomes (cells) thus have a joint probability of 0.75. One cell (say, Number 3) has a probability of 0.25. Hence, the odds of any single outcome are 3 to 1 against.


Change is Inevitable: Adapt to Survive

Dr. Mohammad Ali Wasim – Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


In the last year we have all come to realise that whatever plans we had cannot bear fruit. It may be surprising to know that it was not just individuals who faced this conundrum but also businesses, small and large, including societies as a whole. We keep hearing we are all in this together, but are we really?

A recent report by the BBC talks about the impact on child development and how infants and toddlers have faced significant challenges in the pandemic impacting their growth and development specially their social skills. Having a 3 year old who is about to start play group in the next week or so I can relate to the findings of the report. Similar issues have been highlighted with teens suffering from loneliness and mental health issues. Students struggling with being at home and trying to make sense of this ‘new normal’. Working adults have faced job loss, furlough and elements of losing focus facing domestic abuse causing a rise in divorce rates. Companies are struggling with their operations trying to retain staff, maintain existing business and survive. So when we say we are all in this together, it does hold true.

The things that I have discussed earlier would act as a context to the discussion which follows. We are here, we made it this far, we survived. How did we and others did it? What should be our learnings for the way forward to continue to be resilient, agile and a survivor to face the ‘new normal’.

Work From Home

This is here to stay and the more we deny it, the more we are at a loss. This is a skill a lot of us have developed over the year. Getting used to new software such as Teams and Zoom. The quicker we learn and adapt to this change the better. Organisations have seen this as an opportunity to cut down costs by getting rid of office space and individuals saving on commute cost. In addition, productivity has seen to go up. A happier employee in this scenario seems to be more productive. So, the flexible working arrangements have been quite beneficial and that is something a lot of companies are thinking of making permanent. A good employability strength we all need to focus on and develop further.

Increased Online Presence

A lot of businesses, whether large or small, have realised the importance of being online. With the support we provided at Staffordshire Business School to small business through our Survive and Thrive initiative, it was a key to their survival. The businesses need to make sure that not only do they have an online presence, but also they are able to communicate in a timely manner with their existing and potential clients. This trend has also been followed by small and local businesses where they have all signed up to delivery apps and other such platforms due to the risk of losing business if they don’t do so. This is also linked to the rising use of social media as a refuge and also connecting people together mechanism in these strange times, helping people cope better who would have been otherwise disconnected from it all.

Streamlining of Supply Chains

It was surprising to find out as consumers of global products that a lot of our products come from the same sources. This shock to the system took place when a major chunk of shipments stopped to large economies such as the UK and USA. This realisation of over dependence on China and other players in the market made companies shift to explore alternative suppliers and to re-align their supply chain. Some countries have also benefitted from this where the textile exports of countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh went up significantly due to the pandemic significantly impacting China at the start.

Cashless Payments

Another major shift was the move to card payments rather than cash, which has benefited many businesses, but has impacted others which were purely cash based. These are also the same businesses who have been unable to benefit from the furlough scheme in full because they were not fully part of the financial system they could not make use of the government scheme. This impact was seen across the UK to a number of Taxi, local shops and takeaway businesses who were unable to move to the new developing cashless environment due to the pandemic. All these examples provide us the opportunity to stop and think that the world has changed for the better or worse only time with tell. The key to our survival as individuals, organisations and societies is adapting to the change. Learning from our experience in the last year and evolving to see what can be done in a better way. How can we become more prepared and have the right contingency plans in place. The 1st wave was a shock to the system and we were all in it for the first time. We were all better prepared the second time round. Hoping that things continue to improve and with the roll out of the vaccines and people being more cautious we won’t be hit with a 3rd wave. It is all about taking a moment to reflect on how much we have come through as individuals, companies and society as a whole.

The light at the end of the tunnel is there and we all can make it brighter by reflecting on our strengths, learning from others and having a positive frame of mind. As Rumi rightly put it:

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi


The ‘Fantabulous’ Francis Jackson

Deon Wong, Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student


On Wednesday 24th March 2021, Year 1 & 2 Fda Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Students (VARM) attended a virtual Q&A with extra special guest Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resorts Operations Director). The meeting enabled students to ask Francis on all things Alton Towers, specifically his journey, COVID impacts, new role and advice on how to be successful within the industry. I (Deon Wong), one of the VARM students, was given the opportunity to become the master of ceremonies and lead the Q&A.

Francis Jackson began the Q&A by giving us a brief background history into his experience, from working at Australia’s Falls Creek Ski Lifts as the Director of Snowsports to being the beloved Operations Director at Alton Towers. He has a solid belief in transferring his knowledge gained and sharing them with his team to make them bigger and better. Francis expressed his huge heart towards Alton Towers and how he enjoys the customer focus moments, where he has built relationships to improve the customer journey. He regrets not having time to be out there with the customers and staff due to his administrative role.

Moving into the 2021 season, ATR aims to deliver a ‘thrilliant’ season of celebrations and fun. With an increase in footfall, new safety regulations are introduced to adhere to the safety guidelines. Francis mentioned various new additions to accompany guests’ safety and capacity, from utilising the lawn space, new ride openings, temporary flat rides, and monorail adjustments. Maintaining a ‘fantabulous’ presentation and customer journey is a massive priority for Francis. From ensuring cigarettes and chewing gum are picked up to repainting areas. Francis states it’s all about the “pursuit of guest excellence for the guest journey “- (Francis Jackson, 2021).

Francis Jackson discussed his new role as general manager. With over 30 years of experience in the leisure industry, he’s driven to make the customer journey and experience better. He understands change is always good, as businesses can’t stay static. They have to adapt, change and constantly move forwards to progress. He’s a firm believer in achieving an outstanding organisation by refocusing on corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion. Within his new role as general manager, he’s accountable for all things COVID related, capacity and having the final say in difficult decisions.

Lastly, Francis Jackson passed on specific advice on how to be successful within the leisure industry. From knowing your product, listening to guest feedback and continuously pushing the product your offering to entice guests. One advice he advises is for people to be authentic and be true to themselves; once you divert and create a fake facade, issues will arise. It’s important to feel confident and ensure you have questions to ask, as It’s constantly a lesson of growth and development.

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