Why University Students Must Acquire Leadership Skills

Why University Students Must Acquire Real Leadership Skills

If you undertake a business or management degree, you can generally expect leadership skills to be included on  the curriculum.

That’s not the case for other university degrees, however, despite the fact that many businesses are looking to recruit graduates and forge them into leadership roles.

When the CMI carried out their research on the matter, it found that around 70% of employers want their graduates to come to them with leadership skills already gained at university.

One of the selling points universities use nowadays is how employable each course makes you.

It’s normally front and centre of their marketing approach to attract new students. It’s strange, therefore, that many programmes simply don’t have that leadership and management training which is so vital.

For those students who are currently on a course and don’t have any leadership modules attached, it is important to access additional learning to make sure they are up to speed when they start applying for jobs.

If you are about to start applying to universities, you may want to look at courses which contain work experience and management training.

What Businesses Are Looking For

More than half of businesses are ideally looking for graduates who have practical training in management and leadership.

They want people who are able to take responsibility, have an understanding of the ethical and legal requirements of the sector they are working in and who are able to manage people effectively.

That’s on top of the critical thinking and problem solving skills you might expect from any graduate post.

It’s the case that businesses need to work more closely with higher education establishments to ensure that these leadership skills are embedded into a wider range courses.

From the business point of view that should include getting work experience, preparing graduates for the moment they head out into the real world.

People management skills have been highlighted by businesses as being particularly weak in new graduates.

They may have the high level technical skills that a company is looking for but all too often don’t know how to manage a team or interact collaboratively to get a project to completion.

Of course, these are skills that can be learned on the job but many businesses don’t have the budgets available to introduce wholesale leadership courses for their new recruits.

One problem is that many businesses don’t actually work with HE to offer placements for students to give them experience.

In the CMI research, less than 30% of the businesses asked admitted to providing places or internships for graduates.

If leadership skill courses are to be effective, they need to be backed up with a practical applications in the workplace.

As well all know, applying theory in reality is not always as easy as many people think.

The idea of ‘work ready’ graduates is nothing new.

Many head into managerial positions and good salaries, straight from university.

While universities are making an effort in preparing students for future work, there is still a lot more to do.

Not all courses come with leadership modules and that’s what really needs to happen.

For the moment, students themselves need to take charge of their education and develop their leadership skills if there is nothing provided on their programme.

That could mean taking courses outside of their degree to improve their employment chances.

For those who are now applying for courses, it makes sense to choose a degree qualification that has a management and leadership module included along with relevant work experience.


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