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Disconnect between students and what the economy wants

By 13/03/2015November 17th, 2021Human Resources
students and the economy

Today HR Magazine1 made headlines with a report which found that 40% of MPs believe employers should have more influence over university programmes. I’ve taken a look at the report itself called Education: what our politicians think2 and the following line taken from it really resonated with me ‘Politicians see a disconnect between the people that educational establishments produce and what the economy wants.’ I could not agree more with this line.

From my articles and Linkedin profile you will see my degree of Bachelor of Arts First Class Honours in Business Studies proudly displayed as my greatest academic achievement. It took four crazy years between a house move, marriage, two children, CIPD studies, working in my own business, then HR departments, and finally back to business before completing my degree! You would think I had a wealth of experience to apply alongside my learning, but I quickly learnt that Sarah’s view was a no-no for university assignments because it’s not from a textbook, often written by the Lecturers themselves.

Ok, so I can accept that I don’t know it all but surely a university would accept the findings of a business who are experts in their field?

I recall one final year assignment particularly well as my management consultancy report on a multinational company was my lowest grade. I chose a multinational luxury automotive company, reviewed their operations in the Chinese market and put forward improvement recommendations. To do this I used real market research from McKinsey & Company. If you’re not familiar with McKinsey they are an eight billion dollar global consulting firm. It seemed a no-brainer to use McKinsey’s report Upward Mobility: The Future of China’s Premium Car Market – it covered everything from the Chinese economy, to what influences the purchasing decisions of premium car buyers, even down to the differences between male and female buyers in China. The result was that my management consultancy report wasn’t academic enough to receive a decent grade.

As a business owner I would not take on a consultant to provide me with textbook business models before making a decision on say entering a particular market, so why would an academic institution push for this?

This post isn’t intended as a bitter rant against academia, I achieved what I set out to do from university. This post is a voice from a real employer, in the real business world – there is a clear disconnect between the people that educational establishments produce and what the economy wants.

1 HR Magazine (2015) Employers should have more influence over university programmes, say MPs [Online] Available at: (Accessed 13 March 2015).

2 Education: what our politicians think 2015 report is available at: (Accessed 13 March 2015).