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					  Final Report for Employing Intelligence

          Project at University of

                  Salford

                2000-2001




               Prepared by

  Niall Farrall, E-LMI Project Manager
and Samantha Rosser, E-LMI Researcher



                June 2001
Contact Details

Project Manager: Niall Farrall

Project Researcher: Samantha Rosser

Address:
Academic Enterprise
University of Salford
Greater Manchester
Tel: 0161 295 3579
Fax: 0161 295 5494
E-mail: n.farrall@salford.ac.uk/ s.rosser@salford.ac.uk


Acknowledgements

Thanks to the following people for help and advice:

Dr Lis Smith                  -      Director of Lifelong Learning, University of
                                     Salford
Kim Farr                      -      Head of Careers Service, University of Salford
Hilary Levine                 -      Alumni Relations, University of Salford
Jan Moore                     -      Head of Careers Service, Manchester
                                     Metropolitan University
Chris MacDonald               -      Project Manager/Evaluator – Tangram
                                     Associates




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                  2
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
CONTENTS
                                                                   Page Numbers
Contact Details                                                          2

Executive Summary                                                       4-6

Introduction                                                            9

LMI Research Strands

       1        Supply side audit                                       9-10

       2        The Graduate Surveys                                    11
                2a    Graduates from 1998 and 1999                      11-14
                2b    Graduates from 1995, 1996, 1997                   15-16

       3        Case study Graduate Interviews                          17-19

       4        Case Study Employer Interviews                          20-21

       5        Employer Survey                                         22-24

Dissemination                                                           25

Conclusions                                                             26-27

References

Appendices




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford              3
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
Executive Summary

Aims and Objectives of ‘Employing Intelligence’ Project

      To generate and disseminate high quality LMI relating to the supply of and
       demand for graduates and a highly skilled workforce in priority sectors in the
       region.

      Inform regional strategies and institutional action plans for the production,
       development and retention of North West educated higher-level talent.

      To deliver sector-specific LMI case studies through primary and secondary
       holistic research targeted at those sectors perceived to have potential for
       growth.

      To disseminate the research strategically - internally to the supply-side in
       order to raise awareness and understanding of the use of LMI within HE and
       externally to demand-side networks.

Specific Aims of Creative Industries Project at University of Salford

      This project builds on our previous research and focuses on a sub sector of
       the creative arts industries - graphic design and related sectors such as
       website design and Internet service providers.

      The research project assessed the labour market demand for graduates from
       these areas through an analysis of regional employer’s perceptions and skills
       requirements. In this way the project addressed both the supply and demand
       side of a sub sector of the creative industries as required in the aims and
       objectives.

      Quantitative and qualitative methods were employed for both the supply side
       graduate surveys and for the employer case studies and telephone survey of
       50 employers

      Two surveys were conducted, one for 1995-1997 graduates and one for 1998
       and 1999 graduates. This has provided a longitudinal perspective of
       employment paths for graduates from these subject areas.

      The study surveyed the perception of employers from the following industrial
       sub sectors of the creative industries: Graphic Design, Website Design and
       Internet Service Providers.

      Case studies of 10 employers from these sectors informed the proceeding
       survey of 50 employers from these sectors. The employers were based
       across the North West region.

Supply side Findings

      The main reasons that students from 1998 and 1999 chose their course were
       location and course reputation. In the study of graduates from 1995 to 1997
       personal interest and course content were the main reasons for course
       choice.


Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford               4
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
      73 (44.5%) of the graduate sample, 1998 and 1999 had undertaken a work
       placement. 28% of the graduate sample 1995 to 1997, had undertaken a
       work placement.

      The survey results show a high level of satisfaction with work placements.

      The survey indicates low levels of usage and satisfaction with Careers
       Services and Recruitment Agencies for graduates from 1998 and 1999.

      The sample of graduates from 1995 to 1999 show a high level of current
       permanent full time employment across the subject areas, around the 75%
       mark.

      The main gaps in knowledge that graduates experienced upon leaving HE
       were hands on experience, industrial knowledge, limited and outdated
       computer skills and business skills.

      Out of the 13 in depth interviews with graduates those who were based
       outside the Northwest, all said they would return to the region if there were a
       suitable position for them

   Demand side findings

      The lack of business skills, especially practical knowledge of marketing and
       accounting, was considered a hindrance to graduates establishing their own
       business.

      Case studies of employers in the target sector raised important issues in
       regard to work ethics and work experience, the importance of work
       placements for both student and employer and the importance of softer skills
       and company representation

      The employer survey focussed on 3 industrial sectors: Internet Service
       Providers, Graphic Design, and Web Design

      Companies of 11-50 employees within the ISP and Graphic Design sectors
       were more likely to be involved with HE.

      Employers noted the issues that they considered were the main barriers
       between HE and Business. These were time, cost and resources, particularly
       manpower.

      Employers suggest that their involvement with HE related to either work
       placements or potential recruitment.

      Employers indicated key skills such as communication and interpersonal skills
       were given greater importance than specific technical abilities.

      Skill gaps in current staff resulted in training and development centred on
       technical/IT deficits.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                5
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
      Relevant work experience, business awareness/commercial awareness, and
       realistic expectations and understanding of the work place were the skills
       employers found most lacking in graduates.

      HE was criticised by employers however, for providing graduates with
       outdated technical skills, unrealistic attitudes and perceptions, the inability to
       sell themselves or their work at interviews, and of focussing too much on the
       theory rather than the practical.

      The skills that graduates brought to a company consisted of fresh ideas and
       approach, totally uninhibited, willing to experiment creatively, the ability to
       think outside the box, and a number of key transferable skills.

Main recommendations

      Graduate reasons for studying show that location is a great influence on
       student choice and to a lesser extent so is course reputation. Higher
       Education should make use of this finding, reproduced in other graduate
       studies (Young, 2000), to build upon the already excellent reputation that
       Greater Manchester has as a place to study.

      An extension of work placements schemes to those courses not providing
       them is recommended.

      Increase links between HE and Business by focussing on communication and
       understanding of each other’s needs and objectives.

      To reassess Creative Arts course curriculum to include modules on business
       skills/awareness, to increase the number and improve the quality of IT
       modules to include more up to date knowledge.

      Based on the data received from the graduate case studies it would seem
       that non-traditional career routes are taken within the Creative Industries thus
       producing the need for different careers advice and guidance.

      The increase in graduates from this sample employed in New Media jobs
       from first job to current job mirrors the growth of the sector in the North West
       region and UK.

      The findings indicate that Greater Manchester is a vibrant city and a good
       place to study.

      The employment situation, however, after graduation for many graduates
       from this sample was not so good, with many leaving the region for jobs in
       Greater London and the South East region.

      However, graduates have indicated from depth interviews that a return to the
       region would be considered if appropriate employment was found.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                   6
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
Introduction

This report outlines a Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) project undertaken at
Academic Enterprise, University of Salford. The projects reported on here form part
of a suite of regional projects with an overall title of ‘Employing Intelligence’,
managed centrally by The Centre for Teaching and Learning at University of
Manchester and funded by North West Development Agency and European Social
Fund. The project at Salford is one of 14 in the region which aim to address the
strategic needs of priority industrial sectors1 in the North West region and inform
industrial cluster development for the North West Development Agency . The overall
aims and objectives of Employing Intelligence project are:

       To generate and disseminate high quality LMI relating to the supply of and
        demand for graduates and a highly skilled workforce in priority sectors in the
        region.

       Inform regional strategies and institutional action plans for the production,
        development and retention of North West educated higher-level talent.

       To deliver sector-specific LMI case studies through primary and secondary,
        holistic research targeted at those sectors perceived to have potential for
        growth.

       To disseminate the research findings - internally to the supply-side in order to
        raise awareness and understanding of the use of LMI within HE and
        externally to demand-side networks.

The Creative Industries Project at University of Salford

This project builds on previous work undertaken at University of Manchester
regarding labour market intelligence (LMI) in the North West region (Young, 2000;
MacDonald, 1999). Academic Enterprise at University of Salford has undertaken
previous research for the North West LMI Partnership (Farrall, 2000) investigating the
labour market supply and demand issues in the region.

The North West Development Agency has identified the creative industries as a
priority growth sector in the regional strategy for the North West region. This project
builds on our previous research and focuses on a sub sector of the creative arts
industries - graphic design and related sectors such as website design and internet
service providers.

The project at University of Salford sought to meet the overall project objectives set
out above. The research strands outlined in the following paper set out how we
achieved these aims and objectives. Each strand sets out the rationale for each
piece of research, the work undertaken, the methodological aspects of each study,
the key findings and recommendations for Higher Education and the sponsors of the
research, North West Development Agency and European Social Fund.

The research shows how the project addressed the supply of graduates to the labour
market through an audit of student population data provided by Higher Education
Statistics Agency and a longitudinal analysis of graduate destinations from graduates
in graphic design, digital media and related subject areas. The research project
1
 See North West Development Agency : ‘England’s North West – a strategy towards 2020’
at www.nwda.co.uk

Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                    7
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
assessed the labour market demand for graduates from these areas through an
analysis of regional employer’s perceptions and skills requirements. In this way the
project addressed both the supply and demand side of a sub sector of the creative
industries as required in the aims and objectives.

The project has collaborated with other creative industries project partners such as
Liverpool Hope University and Lancaster University with the aim of providing a co-
ordinated approach to the research project. Collaboration has been undertaken
regarding research methodologies with these project partners and feedback has
been sought and provided regarding project developments.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford              8
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
1       Supply Side Audit

Aims and Objectives

The aim of this strand of the research was to identify and collate creative arts
courses and the trends in students demand and populations at Universities in the
Greater Manchester area2. This process would provide evidence of existing supply
side data. The creative arts subject areas spanned three of the subject areas,
defined and supplied by HESA3 - creative arts and design, modern languages and
architecture, building and planning. There were elements of creative arts in each of
these overall headings. There were two specific tasks involved in the audit:

i) To collect and collate HESA data for student numbers for creative arts and related
courses from 1995/96 to 1998/99.

This task enabled a trending process to take place to indicate increases or decreases
in student numbers across the four target Universities, and across the different
modes of study:

        a) Undergraduate full time and part time
        b) Postgraduate research, full and part time
        c) Postgraduate taught courses, full and part time

ii) To collect and collate the types of courses available at the 4 Greater Manchester
Universities from creative arts and related courses.

This task involved a mapping of all creative arts courses at the four Greater
Manchester Universities. The prospectus from each University was consulted and
courses from creative arts and related courses were logged and course details noted.
The project is collaborating with Liverpool Hope University who are undertaking the
same task. It is hoped that this audit can be utilised by the project website
(www.LMI4HE.ac.uk).


Key Results

       All Universities in Greater Manchester increased their full time undergraduate
        numbers in the period 1995/96 to 1998/99.

       The largest increase (15.4%) over this period for full time undergraduates was
        at University of Manchester.

       For creative arts courses, the University of Salford had the largest percentage
        increase in student numbers, (+1342, 8.2%) from 1995/96 to 1998/99.

       The largest increase in part time undergraduate numbers was achieved by
        Manchester Metropolitan University, an increase of 8%.

       The largest decrease in part time undergraduate numbers was recorded at
        University of Manchester, a decrease of 25% over the period 1995/96 to
        1998/99.
2
  UMIST, University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of
Salford.
3
  Higher Education Statistics Agency- www.hesa.ac.uk

Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                      9
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
      University of Salford increased its percentage share of student numbers in
       Creative Arts and Design in this period

      In terms of full time research postgraduates, increases in student numbers
       were noted at University of Manchester (15.4%), UMIST (15%) and MMU
       (3%).

      The University of Salford had a decrease of 14% in full time research
       postgraduates over the same period

      There is a general upward trend across the four universities for taught
       postgraduate courses.

      Over the period 1995/96 to 1998/99 only the University of Salford showed an
       increase (10%) in student numbers for the creative arts courses for taught
       postgraduates. The other three Universities showed a small percentage
       reduction in student numbers on taught postgraduate courses from 1995/96
       to 1998/99.

      For part time taught postgraduate courses in creative arts MMU shows the
       highest percentage increase in student numbers over the period 1995/96 to
       1998/99.

   Recommendations

      The HESA data from 1995 to 1999 has indicated an increased demand for
       creative arts courses at Greater Manchester Higher Education Institutions.
       The main recommendation here is that Higher Education should recognise
       these increases and plan to accommodate them if the upward trend in
       demand continues.

      However, the decline in students in postgraduate research across the four
       Universities analysed certainly needs to be addressed. The creative arts
       courses analysed here show a corresponding decline in student numbers.
       This issue needs to be addressed. Future labour market research needs to
       assess why this decline in numbers is occurring.

      This could have consequences in terms of the regions ability to produce
       graduates with higher-level skills and as such would affect the
       competitiveness of the region as a whole.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford           10
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
2        The Graduate Surveys

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of these surveys were to analyse the perceptions and
experiences of graduates from two Greater Manchester Universities in terms of their
Higher Education experiences and career development. The NWDA funded the
project for 1998 and 1999 graduates and the European Social Fund funded the
survey of 1995, 1996 and 1997 graduates.

The graduates targeted were essentially from a subset of creative arts subject areas,
graphic design and digital media courses. With many of the digital media courses
mid way through it was felt that the sample of graduates from these two disciplines
should be bolstered with the inclusion of other creative technology degree subject
areas of Fashion Design and Technology, Clothing Technology and Textiles (See
Appendix 1 for courses targeted).

The graduate contact lists were gathered from University of Salford and Manchester
Metropolitan Universities as these had the highest student populations in the subject
area focus (HESA, 1998/99). The Careers Services from University of Salford and
Manchester Metropolitan University provided most names and addresses. Alumni
Relations at University of Salford provided additional student contact names.

2a       Survey of 1998 and 1999 Graduates – for NWDA

The main aims and objectives of this project were :

1        To generate LMI for the creative industry (digital media and graphic design),
2        To assess the longer term market requirements for higher level skills in these
         creative industries
3        To assess the supply of higher-level skills from Universities in the Greater
         Manchester area in creative arts subject areas

This survey aimed to collect information regarding the following issues:

        Education History
        Transition into Employment
        Transferable skills
        Continued Professional Development
        Current Employment Details
        Self employed graduates details
        Previous Employment details

The survey was a self-completion questionnaire, with a combination of closed and
open questioning techniques. One of the central issues to this survey was the
employment destination of graduates and their mobility by region. For this research
the work of McDonald (1999) was utilised in the format of questions referring to
graduate employment and mobility.

The questionnaire was sent to 1200 graduates from University of Salford and MMU.
We received 197 responses, of which 166 were usable. This number of responses
exceeds the number originally planned in the project-bidding document. This result
represented 13.8% of the original sample size, with 56 responses from University of
Salford graduates and 110 from MMU graduates.


Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                11
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
Key Results

      The main reasons that students from these courses chose their course were
       location and course reputation. More male graduates than females indicated
       that location was a major factor in their course choice. Most Female
       graduates indicated that course reputation was the main influence on their
       course choice.

      Graduate satisfaction levels with seven core elements of Higher Education
       courses returned a fairly positive view from this graduate sample.

      The creative elements of the course were the element that most graduates
       were satisfied with, followed by course content and standard of lectures.

      There were significant differences in satisfaction levels between University of
       Salford and MMU for IT Training and Facilities. University of Salford
       graduates indicated a higher level of satisfaction with these elements
       compared to MMU graduates. MMU graduates indicated a higher level of
       satisfaction with standard of lectures/tutorials and the availability of
       tutors/lecturers.

      73 (44.5%) of the graduate sample had undertaken a work placement. There
       were more Fashion Design graduates who had undertaken a work placement
       than other subject areas. The lowest level of work placements was for
       Design graduates. More graduates from University of Salford had undertaken
       a placement than those from MMU.

      The survey results show a high level of satisfaction with work placements.
       The advantages of work placements have been collated from graduate’s
       comments and cover two main advantages: Career aspirations and real
       tangible benefits.

      The survey indicates low levels of satisfaction with Careers Services and
       Recruitment Agencies. Overall, only 37% of graduates in this sample had
       used the Careers Service. Only 27% of graduates from University of Salford
       had used the Careers Service compared with 43% of graduates from MMU.
       Despite the different levels of usage, graduates from both institutions
       indicated a poor level of satisfaction with the services provided.

      Over 80% of graduates now utilised skills developed at University in their
       present job. This was particularly the case for Interactive Media and Design
       graduates. The results show a mixture of both technical and software skills
       and softer skills such as organisational skills, confidence building and project
       management.

      The sample of graduates shows a high level of permanent full time
       employment across the subject areas, 75%.

      The current employment situation of 1999 graduates shows a much lower
       level of full time employment than 1998 graduates.

      The analysis of industry sector and location of graduates first job and current
       job revealed some interesting findings. Most graduates found employment
       within the Design sector, followed by the Wholesale/Retail sector. The

Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                12
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
        Wholesale/Retail sector shows a large decrease in student destinations when
        comparing first job employment with current employment.

       The increase in graduates from this sample employed in New Media jobs
        from first job to current job mirrors the growth of the sector in the North West
        region and UK.


Recommendations for Higher Education

   Graduate reasons for studying show that location is a great influence on student
    choice and to a lesser extent so is course reputation. Higher Education should
    make use of this finding, reproduced in other graduate studies (Young, 2000), to
    build upon the already excellent reputation that Greater Manchester has as a
    place to study.

   Graduate perceptions on the various elements of their course with indicate a fair
    level of satisfaction. The main recommendation from this analysis is to improve
    the levels of IT training for these types of graduates. Training graduates in
    industry type software would be a useful addition to their skills set when
    searching for their first job.

   Graduate usage of careers and employment agencies shows a low level of usage
    and satisfaction in this sample. This suggests that careers and employment
    agencies do not necessarily provide an adequate level of support for graduates
    from these subject areas.

   The results suggest that there is a requirement for an increased awareness
    campaign for the Careers Services to attract creative arts graduates. At the
    same time though the services provided require a more tailored service to
    accommodate the non-traditional career routes of creative arts graduates such as
    those from graphic design and interactive media. These results support a call for
    the identification of students from particular subject areas such as creative arts
    who require a greater level of support from the Careers Service (Harris, 2000).

   The majority of graduates who undertook a work placement during their course
    indicated that this had been an extremely useful exercise in terms of contacts and
    experience. An extension of work placements schemes to those courses not
    providing them is recommended.

   Work placements should be formalised in a structured manner so that the
    placement can achieve its full value for both employer and student. The length of
    work placements could possibly be increased if this was a realistic option
    considering time restraints on both employer and student.

Recommendations for Regional Development Agency

   An extension of work placements across the creative arts subject areas in Higher
    Education whilst advantageous for graduates is also useful for the region as a
    whole. Industry placements can originate future employment for students and go
    some way towards stemming the flow of creative high-level skills to other regions
    such as Greater London and the South East.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                 13
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
   The sample of graduates shows a high level of permanent full time employment
    across the subject areas. However, 50% of graduates from this sample were
    now not employed in the North West region.

   The current employment situation of 1999 graduates shows a much lower level of
    full time employment. It maybe the case that for this sample of graduates the
    greatest likelihood of permanent employment may be the period 12 to 24 months
    after graduation.

   The analysis of industry sector and location of graduates first job and current job
    revealed some interesting findings. Most graduates found employment in the
    Design sector, followed by the Wholesale/Retail sector. This sector shows a
    large decrease when compared to current employment. It may be the case that
    graduates seek temporary work when they first leave Higher Education, before
    they find the right job.

   The increase in graduates from this sample employed in New Media jobs from
    first job to current job mirrors the growth of the sector in the North West region
    and UK. Labour market intelligence from employers in the North West region
    about their skills requirements is vital if the region is to remain competitive and for
    HE to provide appropriate skills for the sector.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                    14
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
2b       Survey of 1995,1996,1997 graduates – funded by ESF

Aims and Objectives

The main aims and objectives of this project were to

1        Generate additional LMI for the creative industry sector (digital media and
         graphic design) in the Greater Manchester area following on from the NWDA
         project.
2        To examine the labour market position of creative arts graduates 3 to 5 years
         after graduation
3        To examine the changing skills environment from the digital media and
         graphic design subject areas

This survey aimed to collect information regarding the following issues:

        Education History
        Current Employment Details
        Self Employment Details
        Continued Professional Development
        Previous Employment

This survey focussed on graduates from the same subject areas as the NWDA
survey from graduation years 1995, 1996 and 1997.     The survey focussed on
graduates from University of Salford and MMU to provide continuity with the first
survey of 1998 and 1999 graduates.

Attaining the record for these graduates was problematic. MMU Careers Service did
not hold any records for 1995 graduates and only paper records for 1996 and 1997
graduates. The University of Salford Careers Service provided good records for
1996 and 1997 graduates; they did not hold records for 1995. University of Salford
Alumni Relations however did retain contacts with graduates from 1995 and this
database was utilised. The sample size for this survey was 506 with 352 graduates
sampled from University of Salford and 154 from MMU. We received 98 usable
responses, representing 19.4% of the original sample size. The number of returns is
even better when we consider the availability of student records from over five years
ago at the respective Universities.

Key Results

    Graduate reasons for choice of course were different to those recorded in the 98-
     99 cohort. 30% of the sample indicated that their main reason for choice of
     course was personal interest, followed by 25% of the sample, indicating Course
     Content as a major influence on course choice.

    28% of the graduate sample had undertaken a work placement. Out of the 27
     who had undertaken a work placement, most graduates were from Design
     subject areas, followed by Fashion Design with 8 graduates. In this sample most
     work placements were undertaken by MMU graduates (14,24%) compared to
     University of Salford graduates (13,32.5%).

    The average length of time for placements was 4.5 months. The shortest time on
     work placements were found for University of Salford graduates (mean =1.3
     months) compared with MMU graduates (mean =7.8 months).


Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford               15
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
   Graduates from 1995, 1996, and 1997 found the work placements extremely
    useful in terms of work experience, making contacts in the industry and improving
    future career prospects.

   Nearly three quarters (74.5%) of the graduate sample were in permanent full time
    employment. 13% were in full time self employment.

   Current employment details shows that 39% of this graduate sample was
    employed in the North West region, 22% were working in Greater London and
    11% were employed in the South East region.

   55, (56%) of the graduate sample were currently working in companies with less
    than 250 employees (SMEs). 22 graduates (22.4%) were currently working in
    companies with more than 250 employees

Recommendations for Higher Education

   Those undertaking work placements found these to be extremely useful for their
    subsequent career. The graduates’ only complaint was that the placements were
    too short. This was particularly the case for design graduates.

   The survey shows a healthy level of permanent full time employment across the 3
    years of graduates

Recommendations for Regional Development Agency

   There is a larger proportion of graduates from 1995 to 1997 employed in the
    North West region than in the 1998 and 1999 sample. This may indicate a
    willingness to return to the North West after initial relocation to Greater London or
    the South East region. The in depth interviews with graduates reported on later
    indicate that if graduates could find suitable employment then a return to the
    North West would be considered.

   The critical path to employment for this sample of graduates appears to be from 6
    months after graduation to 12 months for finding appropriate graduate level work.

   The current employment details of graduates show a high level in larger
    companies with more than 250 employees. It may be the case that graduates
    should be made more aware of the opportunities with the high concentration of
    small medium size enterprises in the North West region.

   The mobility of graduates has also been shown to mirror to an extent the results
    from the 1998 and 1999 graduates, with an apparent movement away from the
    Wholesale and Retail sector towards design, education, business and finance
    and to a lesser extent, the TV, Press and Film sector.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                  16
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
3       Telephone Interviews with graduates from the 1995,96 and 97cohort

Aim and Objectives

13 graduate case studies were conducted over the period of the project with the
purpose of complementing the detailed information provided by the 2 graduate
surveys. The European Social Fund funded the case studies.

The case studies were undertaken in the form of a telephone interview based upon
the template adopted by Middlesex University (Putnam, Nolan, Lindsey; 2000). The
questionnaire was comprised of open questions so as not to limit the amount of
information it was possible to receive. The format of the questionnaire was therefore
semi-structured but with a focus on the following key areas of investigation:

       Path taken to achieve current career
       Location / Perception of the Northwest
       Skills: Gaps and Uses
       Initial step into work
       The HE Experience
       Business and HE links
       Hindsight and the Future

The graduates selected for the case studies were equally weighted between The
Manchester Metropolitan University (7 graduates) and The University of Salford (6
graduates). The selection of graduates was a mixture of Full time employed, Part
time employed, Self-employed, Unemployed, Voluntary workers and those in Further
study.

Key Results

       None of the 13 graduate case studies sought guidance from the Careers
        Service.

       2 graduate case studies had spoken to tutors for advice, but neither found the
        advice to be useful and outdated in regards to the current work world.

       In regards to regional graduate retention 7 graduates were still based in the
        Northwest. 6 of the case studies were based outside the Northwest, with 4
        based in London.

       Out of the 13 graduates those who were based outside the Northwest, all said
        they would return to the region if there were a suitable position for them.

       The general consensus amongst the 13 graduates was that the North West
        was perceived to be very up and coming with regards to the Creative Arts
        industry.

       Socially the North West region was regarded very highly by these graduates,
        especially the city of Manchester which was considered a great place to live.

       However, despite this, the opinion was that there were more job opportunities
        in the South East and London.



Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford               17
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
      The main gaps in knowledge that graduates experienced upon leaving HE
       were hands on experience, industrial knowledge, limited and outdated
       computer skills and business skills.

      The graduates’ perceptions of further study were that they would consider it
       worthwhile if they had the intention to specialise. However, it was the
       financial constraints of student debt that often made it impractical.

      The skills that graduates felt were most important in establishing themselves
       in their careers focussed on transferable skills such as communication,
       flexibility, and presentation of self and work.

      Up to date technical skills were also rated highly as was ‘across the board’
       knowledge of both the creative and the technical so as not to limit
       opportunities.

      However it was contacts and the ability to network that was deemed the most
       important within the Creative Arts industry.

      The lack of business skills, especially practical knowledge of marketing and
       accounting, was considered a hindrance to graduates establishing their own
       business.

      The interviewees believed that there was no available support or advice in
       setting up their own business as the Creative Art industry does not go along
       traditional lines.

      Out of the 13 graduates interviewed 8 felt that they were not prepared for the
       world of work after HE. The reasons for this are the skill gaps listed above.

      Only 2 thought they were prepared for work but suggested that this was
       because they were mature students and had been in work previously.

      The degree courses at University were praised for the creative freedom
       students were allowed but were criticised for the absence of practical
       teachings to counterbalance the theory and experimentalism.

      Tutor support and career guidance was also criticised, as were the outdated
       computer skills.

      However, the main suggestions focussed on vocational improvements of the
       course including more work placement opportunities and of longer duration,
       industry contacts and business awareness skills.

      Work placements and Industry contacts was a strong theme throughout the
       interviews and although it was believed that industry links were getting
       stronger, partnerships need to be worked on and contacts made available to
       students.

      The Northwest was considered as having many opportunities but that they
       needed to be grasped and existing partnerships needed to be promoted to
       attract more involvement from both HE and Businesses.



Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford              18
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
      The overall attitude towards the entire HE experience was positive with 11
       satisfied with their years in HE.

      All graduates interviewed said that in hindsight they would take the same
       education/career path though with the exception of looking into self-
       employment more deeply.

Recommendations for HE

      To increase the number of work placement opportunities and to reassess
       their duration with a view to standardising the length, where possible, to 6
       months.

      To promote the mutual advantages of HE and Business partnerships to
       increase the number of work placements and the number of industrial
       contacts available to students.

      To reassess Creative Arts course curriculum to include modules on business
       skills/awareness and to increase the number and improve the quality of IT
       modules to include more up to date knowledge.

      To research the possibility of Careers Advisory Services to provide talks and
       information on how to set up your own business within the Creative Arts
       Industry. Based on the data received from the case studies it would seem that
       non-traditional routes are taken within the Creative Arts Industry in becoming
       self-employed thus producing the need for different careers advice and
       guidance.

Recommendations for Regional Development Agencies

      To market the Creative Arts Industry within the Northwest to alter graduate
       perception that there are few career opportunities available, thereby
       improving graduation retention in the region.

Reflections on Case Summaries

      The original bid requested 10-12 case studies. Although producing 13 case
       studies exceeded the target there was the possibility of producing more
       studies but unfortunately the time constraints dictated otherwise.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford              19
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
4       Employer Case Studies

Aims and Objectives

10 employer case studies with employers were conducted over the period of the
project. The aim of the project was originally expected to follow on from a mail
survey conducted at Lancaster University. However, the purpose of this particular
aspect of the project was changed to become more of a pilot to the main employer
survey outlined later in the report.

The companies chosen for the case studies covered a range of sectors under the
headings of Website Design, Graphic Design, Product Design and Realisation and
Internet Services.

The case studies were undertaken as a one to one interview with the key contact.
The survey questionnaire was designed in a semi-structured format to combine both
closed and open questions.

The key areas of the questionnaires were:

       Skills Importance
       Recruitment
       Training & Development
       The Creative and Technical
       Perceptions of company relationship with Higher Education
       Perceptions of Graduate Employment
       Profile of interviewee

Key Results

Employers outlined several key themes that informed the development of the
telephone interview questionnaire:

       The importance of the work ethic and work experience

    Two employers stressed the need for both of these aspects in new and current
    employees. An Internet solutions company indicated that they look for a ‘good
    work ethic’, a multimedia company stated that they needed graduates that could
    ‘hit the ground running’.

       The importance of work placements for both student and employer

    Employers stressed the need for new graduates with work experience and at the
    same time stressed the importance of work experience in student’s formative
    years in Higher Education. For example one employer described the company’s
    participation in work placement schemes as enabling them to ‘test drive the
    talent’

       The importance of softer skills and company representation

    Several employers felt that new graduates lacked the adequate softer skills,
    which these companies required. For example, there was a view from many of
    the companies that graduates lacked the adequate interpersonal skills to
    represent the company appropriately.

Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford           20
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
   The Difference in culture between business and academia

A major theme arising from the case studies were the differences between business
and Universities. One employer from a supplier of multimedia education products
stated that ‘there is a complete contrast between business and academia, there is no
risk culture in HE whereas risk culture is embedded in companies such as ours’.
This Marketing Director also noted that the relationship with Higher Education could
essentially be described as one of opposites:

       ‘minimising risk’ (HE) versus ‘risk essential’ (business).

   The importance of communication between HE and Business

Many companies thought communication with HE was essential. However employers
felt that communication with HE was not as good as it should be. As a result the
knowledge transfer from employer to HE suffers and most importantly new
technologies and new skills requirements are not communicated effectively.

   Demand for graduates will increase for these companies

Employers were asked to indicate whether graduate employment would increase,
decrease or stay the same over the next five years. With the exception of one
company, graduate employment was likely to increase at these companies. However
it was indicated that the skills set and person specification for these graduate
positions was also likely to change. One employer from a multimedia education
company indicated that the skills required by graduates will ‘probably change with
more web development and expertise’ required. An internet service provider stated
that the company was starting to ‘aim for the more mature graduate’. A company
from the graphic design sector indicated that new graduates will ‘need to have the
ability to innovate’, whilst another graphic design company stated that they will
require more people with ‘3D skills’.

   Creative and Technical skills are essential

The companies from these sectors employ an extensive number of skills
encompassing both the technical and creative areas. The questionnaire examined
whether companies experienced any problems bringing the two areas together. One
multi-media design company stated that there were no problems as the technicians
and creative personnel were equally aware of each others work and projects. Other
companies stated that they treated both the technical and creative sides of the
business equally and that both were a valued resource. A company from the graphic
design sector stated that they had had problems but these were the result of a clash
of personalities rather than differences in technical and creative ability.

These themes were built upon and developed for the employer survey. The following
survey examines three sectors in the North West region – graphic design, website
designers and internet service providers.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford             21
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
5      Employer Survey

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of the employer survey were to analyse employer
perceptions within the Design and Interactive Multimedia Industries in regards to
Higher Education and graduate recruitment and the themes outlined in the employer
case studies. The survey was targeted specifically at SMEs within the Northwest
area to obtain a regional focus and establish regional needs. Business Link and an
internal database supplied the SME contact information.

The survey took the form of a telephone questionnaire with a combination of open
and closed questions to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data. One of the
central issues of this survey is the type of skills desired by employers. Once obtained
this would be useful to use in conjunction with the skills supplied to graduates whilst
in higher education as established by the two graduate surveys. A mapping of
supply and demand will be enable an assessment of the skill gaps being experienced
by both employers and graduates.

The survey’s aim was to collect information on the following issues:

   Company Demographics
   Recruitment Procedures
   Training and Development
   Creative and Technical Specifics
   HE Involvement
   Graduate Employment
   Skills: Supply and Demand

A total of 238 employers were contacted via an introductory letter that was mailed to
them. A total of 50 telephone interviews (as laid out in bid document) were obtained
representing 21% of the original sample size. The 50 companies interviewed were
divided into 3 sectors and weighted as follows:

   30% (15) within the ISP sector
   32% (16) within the Graphic Design sector
   38% (19) within the Web Design sector

Key Results

   This research supports previous demand side research (Cushlow, 1999) in that it
    indicates a graduate culture within businesses. Employers who are themselves
    graduates are, according to the data gathered from this survey, 3.5 times more
    likely to employ graduates than non-graduate employers. Non-graduate
    employers, however, are twice as likely to employ a person based on their
    individual abilities and personal qualities and class a degree as largely
    immaterial.

   Employers stated that there are always those graduates that use the first
    company as a stepping-stone. The main problem employers were experiencing
    was graduate retention on a regional rather than company level. The drift towards
    London is one that incorporates both creative and technical graduates and
    employers expressed concern over this loss of talent.


Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                22
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
   The 3 sectors targeted by the survey (ISP, Graphic Design, Web Design) are all
    potential growth industries according to Government4 and North West
    Development Agency, with 40% having established themselves in 1991-1999 and
    18% in 2000. This is a possible factor in the increase of Creative Art graduates
    establishing themselves in New Media employment (as recorded in the graduate
    survey results).

   Companies of 11-50 employees within the ISP and Graphic Design sectors were
    more likely to be involved with HE. For the Web Design sector the preferable
    company size for HE involvement was less than 10 employees.

   Employers noted the issues that they considered were the main barriers between
    HE and Business. These were time, cost and resources, particularly manpower.
    Employers suggest that their main involvement with HE related to either work
    placements or potential recruitment (though the latter is directed more at FE).
    The barriers, such as those mentioned above, could be the main reasons why
    these placement opportunities/schemes are limited.

   The analysis of skills provoked an informative reaction from the employers
    interviewed with 5 specific factors being identified:

          i.    When recruiting, key skills such as communication and interpersonal
                skills were given greater importance than specific technical abilities
                with the exception of the ISP sector which weighted both of equal
                importance.
          ii.   Skill gaps in current staff resulted in training and development centred
                on technical/IT deficits. The most prominent gaps being up to date
                software and programming knowledge.
         iii.   Relevant work experience, business awareness/commercial
                awareness, and realistic expectations and understanding of the work
                place were the skills employers found most lacking in graduates.
         iv.    The skills that graduates brought to a company consisted of fresh
                ideas and approach, totally uninhibited, willing to experiment
                creatively, the ability to think outside the box, and a number of key
                transferable skills.
         v.     HE was criticised by employers however, for providing graduates with
                outdated technical skills, unrealistic attitudes and perceptions, the
                inability to sell themselves or their work at interviews, and of focussing
                too much on the theory rather than the practical.

   A surprising revelation was that in order to promote company harmony, staff were
    encouraged to have a balanced knowledge of both the creative and technical
    aspects of work. Thus inducing general understanding of the needs and
    restrictions of all parties and keeping departmental conflicts to a minimum.

Recommendations for Higher Education and Regional Development Agency

   Placement options should be included whenever possible in order to place theory
    into practice, thereby increasing the graduate’s employability factors. Also where
    possible the placement should aim to be of no less than 6 months as this was
    seen by the employer as the minimum time needed for both the employer and

4
 See Department for Culture, Media and Sport (1999) Creative Industries – The Regional
Dimension, The Report of the Regional Issues Working Group.

Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                     23
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
    student to benefit from the experience – for the placement to become a ‘learning
    experience’ rather than simply a brief insight for the student. This would also
    encourage employers to partake in placement schemes as the duration of 6
    month or more would be a justifiable and worthwhile investment.

   For Creative Art course curriculum to include a more vocational aspect so as to
    compete with the FE sector which, according to the sample taken, is more
    favourably viewed in light of practicality and vocational training. Modules dealing
    with the issues of accounting, marketing and general business awareness and
    shorter project deadlines would provide the balance sought by employers
    between creativity and practicality. It would also provide Creative Arts graduates
    with the option of self-employment after graduation as they will have been
    provided with business basics.

   Increase links between HE and Business by focussing on communication and
    understanding of each other’s needs and objectives.     Reassessment of
    image/perception of each other, with the possible mutual promotion and
    marketing would also improve and increase partnerships.

   Shorter HE training courses (duration of 1 day rather than several weeks) for
    employers thereby combating the time issue as a barrier to staff recruitment and
    also a higher percentage of HE organised training courses available on line for
    employer/staff convenience.

   Businesses should be made more aware that a new graduate is ‘potential’ not a
    completed product and that a graduate will not posses the level of experience
    expected by the employer as they are coming from ‘education’ not previous
    employment.

   Reassessment of funding for the provision of up to date technology in HEI’s to
    eliminate the problem of students graduating with outdated computer skills. A
    possible opportunity for additional links/partnerships for if businesses supply the
    funds then they are providing for their future employees and thereby saving
    resources and time in the future.

   Some employers suggested that the training of tutors and lecturers in up to date
    IT/New Media to eliminate the problem of outdated teachings.

Reflections on Survey Strategy

The main problem with this survey was actually contacting the companies as the
databases supplying the contact details were slightly out of date. This meant that a
number of companies had moved, changed their telephone details or disbanded.
Once contacted the majority were more than willing to participate in the
questionnaire, particularly if flexibility was displayed if they asked to be contacted at
an alternative time and if the interview was kept to 10-15 minutes in length. Every
employer interviewed where contact details had not altered had received the
introductory letter mailed to them. This may demonstrate that telephone surveys
command greater response than postal surveys.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                  24
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
Dissemination Activities

Aims and Objectives

The main aim of dissemination events was to concur with one of the main aims of the
Employing Intelligence project as a whole:

The research will be disseminated strategically - internally to the supply-side in order
to raise awareness and understanding of the use of LMI within HE and externally to
demand-side networks

We have achieved this through three dissemination events that were held in
accordance with project requirements. The first event held in March at the University
of Salford was the first chance to disseminate findings of the project so far to an
internal audience of academics and staff from Careers services. The presentation
outlined the key elements of the creative arts projects and also the extent of LMI
research in the North West region at Higher Education institutions.

The second internal event was held in conjunction with an enterprise presentation to
the Art and Design School at University of Salford. A presentation was made which
included key results from the surveys and initial findings from the employer case
studies. As a result of interest generated a mailing list was developed for the data
reports of the survey to be disseminated towards the end of June 2001.

The third dissemination event was a presentation to the Skills Development Fund
Network Meeting in May 2001. The meeting was attended by the project managers
from a range of projects sponsored by NWDA. The presentation featured an
overview of the Employing Intelligence Project and results were presented from
University of Salford’s project. There was a lot of interest generated and good
contacts were made with North West Arts Board and the International Centre for
Digital Content based at Liverpool John Moores University. The University of Salford
is due to host the next meeting of the Skills Development Fund Network in mid July.

The research disseminated so far has generated a lot of interest. Internally the Art
and Design School at University of Salford will utilise the project results for inclusion
in future prospectuses and for curriculum development and business planning.
Externally many employers have expressed an interest in the findings and also the
project website at www.LMI4HE.ac.uk. The project will deliver project reports on
each of the research strands. These will be disseminated widely both internally and
externally to employers and networks developed during the project. LMI Briefings on
each of the research strands will be completed and included on the project website.

Our future dissemination strategy will focus on widely distributing the results to
internal contacts and external stakeholders. It is hoped that a joint dissemination
event for all the creative arts projects from Employing Intelligence can be held in the
near future.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                  25
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
Conclusions

The project has undertaken an in depth analysis of both the supply and demand
sides of the labour market for a sub sector of the creative arts industries. It has been
able to utilise previous best practice aspects for use in analysis. The project has
applied these aspects to the mail survey and telephone interviews with graduates
and also to interviews with employers. The project has employed techniques for the
collection of quantitative and qualitative labour market information. It has utilised
these best practice aspects in an attempt to use a ‘holistic’ approach to the collection,
interpretation and dissemination of the subsequent labour market intelligence
(Young, 1999).

The project has achieved the aims and objectives set out in the bid documents. It
has generated supply and demand intelligence relating to the highly skilled workforce
in a priority sector in the North West region. It has provided recommendations to key
stakeholders such as Higher Education, funding bodies and regional development
agency, which will inform regional strategies and institutional action plans. The
project has also disseminated findings to key personnel in Higher Education and to
external stakeholders.

The results of the survey have shown important results in terms of employment and
experiences in Higher Education. From the graduate surveys a key result is the
importance given to a work placement for graduates from these subject areas. The
importance of work placements is also noted by a significant number of employers
that suggests Higher Education should consider widening work placements across
the creative arts subject areas. The practicalities of increasing time in work
placements, particularly for design students, should be assessed. Employers and
HE should consider a working partnership to achieve this goal.

The study has identified the key skill requirements and regional needs of 50
employers from 3 sub sectors of the creative industries. These results together with
employer’s perceptions of HE and graduates indicate that there are some barriers to
collaboration in these particular industrial sectors. Employers are also critical of HE
for providing outdated IT skills, focussing on theory rather than the practical. This
point is supported by results from the graduate surveys where graduates indicated a
low level of satisfaction with IT training and facilities at HE. These results suggest
that HE and business need to co-operate to greater extent to actualise a more
employable graduate for these sectors.

However, graduates have stated they are utilising many skills developed whilst at
HE. It is interesting to note that many graduates indicated the utilisation of softer
skills such as communication in their present job, which they state they developed
whilst at University. HE is at least doing something right!

The reasons provided for studying in the Greater Manchester area reflected results
seen in previous LMI studies in the North West region (Young, 1999). The graduates
from 1998 and 1999 indicate that location is a major influence on course choice. The
results indicate that Greater Manchester is a vibrant city and a good place to study.
However the work situation after graduation for many graduates from this sample
was not so good, with many leaving the region for jobs in Greater London and the
South East region. The attractiveness of the North West region to graduates in terms
of employment opportunities needs to be addressed. Increasing the number of work
placements may help here.



Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                  26
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
The mobility of the graduates out of the North West region could also be addressed
by involving careers services in HE to greater extent in the creative arts courses. An
objective could be to increase awareness amongst graduates of the number of small
medium size enterprises in relevant sectors in the North West region.

This point is also salient in relation to the size of companies that graduates are
employed in. The number of graduates currently working in larger companies
indicates that the graduates in this sample may overlook working in a prime market
place for graduates – small medium size enterprises. The NWDA and HE need to
increase awareness of these businesses in growth areas for graduates from these
degree disciplines. The involvement of HE, Careers Services and employers may
offer the opportunity for the region as a whole to stem the drift of graduates out of the
region




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford                  27
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
References

Cushlow, F. (1999) North West Small and Medium Size Enterprises Needs and
Expectations of Higher Education, Bolton Institute and Department of Education and
Employment

Harris, Sir Martin, (2000) Developing Modern Higher Education Careers Services,
Department of Education and Employment

MacDonald, C. (1999) After Graduation-What Next – An analysis by Subject Area of
Study, North West Development Agency and University of Manchester.

North West Development Agency (1999) England’s North West – a strategy towards
2020.

Putnam, T., Nolan, L. and Lindsay, S. (2000) Higher Education and Career patterns
in the Cultural Industries, Middlesex University and Department of Education and
Employment.

Regional Issues Working Group, (1999) Creative Industries –the regional dimension,
Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Young, Z. (2000) An Holistic Approach to the Use of LMI in HE Strategic Planning-
Final report of the collaborative LMI research and development project in the North
West 1998-2000, University of Manchester and Department of Education and
Employment.




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford            28
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001
Appendices

Appendix 1

Courses to be targeted for mail survey - University of Salford

Undergraduates form 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 and 1999.

Design Studies

Fashion Design (Design Practice)

Graphic Design

Product Design & Development

Spatial / Interior Design

Media Technology


Courses to be targeted for mail survey –Manchester Metropolitan University

Undergraduates from 1995, 1996,1997 and 1998, 1999

Design and Technology

Design and Technology with combined subjects

Fashion Design with Technology

Illustration with Animation

Interior Design

Three Dimensional Design

Textiles

Clothing Design with Technology




Employing Intelligence at Academic Enterprise, University of Salford         29
Creative Arts Project Final Report June 2001

				
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