Are We Teaching What Employers Want?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Ellen McArthur of Griffith University, who recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled, “The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia.” The article is co-authored by Krzysztof Kubacki, Bo Pang, and Celeste Alcaraz, also of Griffith University. Below, McArthur discusses key findings of the study:]

Innovative research by Griffith University into graduate job advertisements in Australia shows employers value the personal traits of job candidates more highly than degree qualifications. The study, which is the largest of its kind into graduate jobs in marketing, raises questions about the purpose of a degree, and whether universities are preparing students to be “work-ready”.

While the study focussed on marketing jobs, the findings have relevance for all academic disciplines. The most frequently required attributes were “soft skills” that are not specific to marketing, including motivation, time management, attention to detail, and teamwork. Superior communication skill, particularly writing talent, was also highly demanded, and it was only after the calls for these generic abilities that occupation-specific skills began to rank.

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Among occupation-specific abilities, digital marketing was the most needed, including search engine optimisation, Google Analytics, AdWords, and creating and curating social media content for a range of platforms. Other demanded skills included project management, marketing communications, sales, and customer service and customer relationship management (CRM).

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Some 48.5% of ads called for applicants with experience. This significant figure suggests the need for far greater integration of undergraduate study with initiatives that deliver hands-on practice, including internships, work integrated learning, and practice-based assessments.

General IT skills and a high level of computer literacy are important pre-requisites for applying for marketing positions. Experience in MS Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, was specified in almost one in three ads, followed by Adobe Suite, InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Though students may use these programs ad hoc, such strong demand suggests the need to embed this software use into courses as explicit learning outcomes.

A marketing degree specifically was required in only half the sample of advertisements, with communication, psychology, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics also providing pathways into marketing roles. This reflects the cross-disciplinary nature of marketing careers in the twenty-first century.

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The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia’, content analysed 359 graduate advertisements (83,000 words) for careers in marketing posted on Australia’s top jobs website in a six-month period in 2016. Full time employment rates for Australian graduates have dropped to new lows, and the research aimed to identify the specific skills and attributes demanded by employers for graduate level jobs in marketing.

The study won a Best Paper Award at ANZMAC in 2016. Click here to read the full article for a limited time.

Griffith University is based in South-east Queensland, Australia, and ranks in the top 3% of universities globally, with more than 50,000 students across five campuses.

Dr. Ellen McArthur, who led the research project, said “large samples of job advertisements are perhaps the most valid way to study employers’ needs, but they are rarely used for employability research.”

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Introduction to Special Issue: Learning & Education

[We’re pleased to welcome Laura Galloway of Heriot-Watt University and David Higgins of the University of Liverpool. They recently guest edited a special issue in Industry and Higher Education entitled “Learning and education: Exploring entrepreneurial actions and practice.” From Galloway and Higgins:]

ihea_31_2.cover.pngFollowing the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference in Glasgow in Autumn 2015, we were delighted to develop a special issue of Industry and Higher Education on ‘Learning and education: Exploring entrepreneurial actions and practice’ – the 5th special issue we have done so far. Included are seven papers, collated to comprise a robust contribution to the field.
Several of the papers are on the broad topic of entrepreneurship education in universities, including:

  • Lost in Space’: The Role of Social Networking in University-based Entrepreneurial Learning by Lockett, Quesada-Pallarès, Williams-Middleton, Padilla-Meléndez and Jack who explore the impact of social networking on learning in the UK and Sweden;
  • Entrepreneurship in Vocational Education:  A Case Study of the Brazilian Context by Stadler and Smith, in which entrepreneurship education in vocational studies in Brazil is explored;
  • Breaking in the Waves: Routines and Rituals in Entrepreneurship Education by Neergaard and Christensen, who present an exploratory study of how classroom routines and rituals impact on entrepreneurship education;
  • The Phenomenon of Student-Led Enterprise Groups by Preedy and Jones who investigate how the simulated business ‘roles’ performed in student-led enterprise groups afford and enhance experiential and social learning;
  • A Mystagogical View of ‘Withness’ in Entrepreneurship Education by Refai and Higgins investigates entrepreneurship education from a mystagogy perspective, exploring notions of identity with and initiation into entrepreneurship.

Papers on learning amongst those in firms are also included in this special edition:

  • Help Wanted! Exploring the Value of Entrepreneurial Mentoring at Start-Up by Brodie, Van Saane, and Osowska presents a qualitative study of mentoring in five start-up ventures;
  • Up the ANTe: Understanding Entrepreneurial Leadership Learning through Actor-Network Theory by Smith, Kempster and Barnes focuses on leadership in the small business, how it is learnt and its importance.

These papers form a valuable contribution to the study of entrepreneurship education and learning amongst entrepreneurs. Through this special issue we seek to present a scholarly voice which seeks to foster innovative and accessible scholarly writing which is of crucial importance to any research field. The ability of any publication to develop material which engages with practical experience and action must be a key priority in the advancement of future practice and scholarship. The uniqueness of the ISBE community to develop and stimulate activities which can serve the ISBE community provides an extremely valuable network of resources for early career researchers, students and practitioners.

The special issue articles ‘Breaking in the Waves: Routines and Rituals in Entrepreneurship Education’ by Neergaard and Christensen, and ‘‘Lost in Space’: The Role of Social Networking in University-based Entrepreneurial Learning’ by Lockett, Quesada-Pallarès, Williams-Middleton, Padilla-Meléndez and Jack are currently free to read through Industry and Higher Education.

The 2017 Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference is taking place 8-9 November 2017 in Belfast, and has a theme of ‘‘Borders’, prosperity and entrepreneurial responses.

From the Ordinary to Corruption in Higher Education

[We’re pleased to welcome author Mildred A. Schwartz of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Schwartz recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “From the Ordinary to Corruption in Higher Education.” From Schwartz:]

When I moved to New Jersey after many years of teaching in Chicago, my interest as a political and organizational sociologist was piqued by theJMI_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg kind of corruption I learned of.  Not fully satisfied with existing theories and explanations, I began thinking of how to approach corruption as a sociological phenomenon.  Then, when I read local press coverage about misconduct at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), I felt that I had found the ideal case
for exploring how corruption could arise even within such an unexpected setting–a university dedicated to the health care professions.

Of all the findings that came from my research, at least two were surprising.  One was the prevalence of many of the illegal or unethical behaviors found at UMDNJ in other U.S. universities that had medical schools.  The second was the ability of UMDNJ and other universities, despite misconduct, to still fulfill their duties to train health care professionals, advance scientific research, and treat the sick.

I would like to think that my findings will inspire efforts at controlling organizational corruption, particularly as it is manifested in higher education.  At least three guidelines emerged from the larger research, discussed in my book, Trouble in the University:  How the Education of Health Care Professionals became Corrupted (Brill, 2014).  One is the importance of enough transparency to allow organizational participants to understand how decisions are made.  Second is the need for accepted avenues through which to express complaints without fear of reprisal.   Third, and this is especially relevant to state-supported universities although it is not confined to them, is the need for firm boundaries between politics and education.

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