Business Schools Task Force: Education Must Work with Enterprise

Business Schools MSB Task Force Report November 2012Britain’s medium-sized firms and business schools are apparently hampering economic growth through a failure to form closer ties.

A report from the Business Schools Task Force, set up by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in November 2011, has acknowledged the benefits of collaboration between education and enterprise but says that not enough is being done.

Business Minister Michael Fallon has issued a call to action for the country’s mid-sized businesses (MSBs) to do more of the "heavy lifting" as they are what he calls the "muscles" of the UK economy.

In the report Business School/Mid-Sized Business (MSB) Collaboration – supporting growth in the UK’s mid-sized businesses the business school task force sets out a number of recommendations for encouraging better engagement between business schools and mid-sized businesses.

The first is that access and visibility be increased so that business schools have a very clear point of contact for businesses.This also includes the design of business schools’ websites so that they too are clear, user-friendly and business-friendly with plain English so that even a layperson can understand. In addition business schools are are being encouraged to exploit social media to build relationships with business.

Business schools should also actively seek out medium-sized firms with which to collaborate, offering taster sessions, lectures and specialist fora. Courses offered at business schools should also be tailored for local businesses.

Businesses are being urged to show an equally proactive approach and connect with their local business schools to foster relationships. Reviewing their own management practices and seeking assistance form business schools is actively encouraged.

Programmes to involve students with local businesses are another area that can see mutual benefit and, vice versa, business people speaking at schools and colleges is seen as a great way to share knowledge and advice.

The advice of the report also seeks to have businesses represented on the management and advisory boards of business schools to ensure that the voice of local firms is heard in their corridors.

The task force report has been welcomed by groups such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Association of Business Schools (ABS) and Institute of Family Business (IFB).

The CBI’s Head of Enterprise, Emma Wild, said of the report:

“At the moment too many MSBs are unaware of or unconvinced by business school collaboration, so the practical ideas in this report should help persuade them of the value of engagement.”

Mark Hasting, Director General of the IFB, was also positive, saying:

“The report presents a tremendous opportunity for business schools to work more closely with family firms and we look forward to supporting the development of these new relationships.”

Paul Marshall, Chief Executive of the Association of Business schools added:

“Autonomy and competition coupled with sustained government investment has created an environment in which the UK’s business schools have thrived. Our challenge now is to sustain and grow our Schools within a world dramatically altered by new economic circumstances.”

For full details read the report Business School/Mid-Sized Business (MSB) Collaboration – supporting growth in the UK’s mid-sized businesses (PDF).

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