University Business and Technology School’s call to action
This September, 1,700 students began their studies in the Business area of the School’s new ultramodern building, which also houses the Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership’s ‘Growth Hub,’ and the University’s business development department - ‘University in Business (UiB).’
The School’s business academic subject areas include Business Management, HR, Entrepreneurship, Accounting and Finance, Law, Marketing, Events and Hospitality Management. The Technology part of the School is home to an additional 750 students at the University’s Cheltenham Park Campus and specialises in computing and engineering, along with a state-of-the-art cybersecurity facility.
Speaking to visiting professionals from across Gloucestershire, Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Head of the School of Business and Technology, said:
“Nationally, we are one of 17 universities which are full members of the National Institute of Coding and we are currently playing a lead role in discussions on the Cheltenham Cyber Park, working with other universities and businesses including Raytheon, BT, Fujitsu, Lockheed Martin and IRM.
“We want to help businesses find the best possible solutions to their challenges and we’re no armchair warriors, sitting safely in our labs. The School is now better prepared than at any time previously to engage with the business community in Gloucestershire and beyond.”
Professor Bechkoum added that internationally the University is leading a £1.6m EU-backed project to export its Growth Hub model to Indonesia, working with eight Indonesian universities to help deliver business support throughout the country.
He continued: “The skills agenda cannot be left to academics alone. We need to work together to develop the talents needed in coming years.
“To achieve this we’re calling on businesses to work with our experts at the School of Business and Technology to help design curricula that meets their skill shortages, define our students’ learning environment and shape the talents of tomorrow.”
“This leads directly to improved services for business, as we have found in areas such as cybersecurity where our graduates have gained positions with organisations including IBM, Microsoft and government agencies.”
The University of Gloucestershire is now actively promoting its apprenticeship and internship programmes for business alongside its wide range of knowledge exchange services in areas such as online security, innovation and productivity.
Professor Bechkoum concludes:” My message is let’s work together on the issues that matter most to the business community in Gloucestershire. We are open for business so try us if you haven’t yet done so.”
Comments from visitors to the University of Gloucestershire’s School of Business and Technology include:
Lindsey Young, CEO at electrical contracting business Clarkson Evans, head an organisation which has been responsible for wiring one in ten of all new homes built in England and Wales over the last year. She said: “We started business in 1991 and have our Head Office in Gloucester. A key challenges is that we’ve grown rapidly over the last several years. It’s quite striking that the University of Gloucestershire has just reached out to us. One of our managers is currently studying for their management degree here and it seems to be working well. I’m keeping my eyes open for what the University can do in terms of us working together, certainly all the right things seem to be being said.”
Haley Coombs, Sales and Marketing Senior Manager at Coombs MF Freeman: “As a family business we’ve been going for 50 years and we’re always trying to come up with new and innovative ways of working. We’d really like to get involved with the University’s students to benefit from new and different ways of thinking. Recruitment is challenging for us, perhaps in part because we’re based in the Forest of Dean and it’s not unusual for our people to have an hour commute to work. I’m really interested in bringing our issues to the University to help us solve them, and working on live projects sounds like a really good idea.”
Paul Williamson, Director at Hillside Brewery: “The big challenge for us is finding the right people. Our main business is brewing, but we also run events and activities, and meeting skills gaps in these areas is one of the hardest things we’ve found because we’re a small team. Another challenge is the oversaturation of the microbrewery market. Too many people are competing on price. We want to be a local brewery and are currently deciding on whether we double the size of our brewing kit. We’ve worked with the University on marketing projects and getting an external perspective is always useful.”
Sarah Bryars, Chief Executive at Cheltenham-based Target PR: “The University clearly has a desire to connect with businesses in a really meaningful way. I’ve recently completed my MBA with the University of Gloucestershire and it’s been a real revelation that academia can bring a different lens to the business challenges you’re looking at. The beauty of the MBA
Leading business is that it’s work-based and part of a unique partnership between the University and QuoLux, so everything I was focusing on was being applied to our business.”