“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
Internationalisation has devoured global industry, creating intense competition among even the world’s most qualified graduates. One thing that sets the most able students apart however, is evidence of real-world, applicable experience gained alongside their studies.
In 2015, research demonstrated that employers value work experience among graduates far more than the prestige of their attended institution, and experience is even prioritised over grades achieved in their degree.
Figures show that 58 percent of employers rated work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented”, closely followed by the perceived personality of the student, which 48 percent of employers claimed to favour most.
In recent years, education professionals have argued the validity of the degree within the modern world, with many labelling the system as rigid and obsolete since a good grade can make the difference in whether or not a graduate finds employment, despite telling us very little in terms of what the person is actually like.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, labelled the current system “a blunt instrument”, and showed her support for the 2015 government report that called for a new 13-point system for employers that would outline students’ achievements in a broad range of activities. Dandridge noted that the aim of this new system is to “provide a more detailed account of what a student has actually achieved during their studies, rather than just a one-off degree classification”.
The very same research revealed that Russell Group and Ivy League graduates tend to have an ‘edge’ when it comes to graduate employment, simply due to the increased availability of internship positions at these reputed institutions. Figures demonstrated that 44 percent of Russell Group students undertook an internship in the U.K. and 20 percent overseas; Ivy League figures stood at 59 and 24 percent, respectively. Numbers for other US institutions were down by one third and stood at just 30 percent among non-Russell group students.
“We expect this difference may close over time,” the report notes, “as more and more universities incorporate work and internship programmes into their curriculums to help their students gain real-world, relevant work experience in their chosen careers.”
An increasing number of U.K. institutions are giving the Russell Group Universities a run for their money, boosting graduates to the top of the employment heap by offering valuable, compatible work experience placements as compulsory additions to already rigorous provisions.
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is one such institution, seeking to produce highly employable graduates by harnessing the entrepreneurial, research, creative and enterprising skills of all learners, and providing programmes that grant students the best possible opportunities to find employment as they develop crucial ‘transferrable’ skills.
“One way we achieve this is through collaboration; establishing a range of strategic relationships at regional, national and international level,” notes Andrew Campbell, Head of Tourism and Hospitality at UWTSD. “Such networks have the potential to inspire our learners, staff and partners to create exciting new learning futures.”
With this in mind, the university recently launched a pioneering partnership with the Swansea Mariott, the first Welsh collaboration within the Hospitality and Tourism industry. For a small region, Wales has a particularly high dependency on tourism, but the rapid influx of globalisation has led to increasing competition within one of the world’s most profitable industries.
In 2013, visitors contributed £5 billion to the Welsh economy, supporting more than 100,000 jobs – almost 10 percent of all jobs in the nation. Within the south west region of Wales, statistics are proportionately higher, with estimates that one in five job positions arise from the realm of tourism.
UWTSD’s innovative new partnership is integrated into a new degree programme in International Hotel Management, seeking to raise the bar of the hospitality and tourism industry on a local, national and even international level. The prestigious programme will provide a comprehensive education for just 15 talented students, and will place UWTSD in a leading position for teaching excellence in the ever-growing field of hospitality.
This valuable partnership also runs in accordance with the Welsh government’s plan to develop a skilled, customer-focussed workforce to ensure the success of the region’s growing industry in the Partnership for Growth Tourism Strategy 2013-2020.
“For tourism destinations to survive and prosper, either at a regional or national level, there is an industry imperative for trading organisations to both satisfy and exceed the needs and expectations of visitors,” adds Campbell. “We believe this new initiative will help to produce graduates who will become industry leaders of tomorrow.”
The unique, two-year collaborative programme is designed to produce graduates who not only have a firm understanding of the academic theories that underpin the industry, but have been given the opportunity to apply these theories in practical situations through placements at the Marriott hotel.
“This is one of many examples where UWTSD delivers on its core values,” says Andrew Campbell. “As the university evolves we will advance the relationships that we have with key business and industry sectors, ensure that our courses are relevant, guarantee that our students get the best educational experience and continue to develop and deploy a skilled workforce in key sectors.”
University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) teaches 25,000 learners across 17 campuses in both rural and urban locations. The University emphasises practical applied learning, strong academic disciplines and a dedication to innovation, enterprise and transferrable knowledge. The learner experience lies at the heart of its mission.
The BA in International Hotel Management at UWTSD is an exciting new programme, formed as the result of an exciting new partnership between the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Marriott Hotels, widely recognised as one of the world’s leading hotel brands. This unique collaboration blends vocational training at the Marriott Hotel with academic study on campus at UWTSD. The BA in International Hotel Management has three intakes: February, June and October.