Universities and colleges 'need to nurture enterprise and entrepreneurial skills' among student job-seekers

Graduates need to be taking a more creative and risk-taking "can-do" attitude into the workplace, higher education providers have been told.

The call has come from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. It has been working with careers and higher education experts to come up with advice for universities and colleges on how to nurture enterprise and entrepreneurship skills among students to boost their employment prospects.

And it says students should be bringing better skills in these areas to the jobs market and to recruitment agencies after graduation.

Dr Laura Bellingham, of the agency, said: "Today's graduates need to be able to think on their feet and develop a 'can-do' confidence, with creative questioning, ideas generation and a willingness to take risks."

The guidance looks at how extra-curricular activities can be combined with core mainstream learning to foster enterprise among students studying a variety of subjects.

It also gives universities, colleges and careers organisations practical tips on approaches to learning and teaching.

Dr Bellingham said today's graduates would need entrepreneurial and enterprise skills to enable them to compete in the changing jobs market or to realise their dreams of setting up their own businesses.

The agency says teaching these vital skills is fragmented at the moment, with some institutions offering stand-alone degrees in enterprise and entrepreneurship and others providing training as part of their careers education programmes.

But it says students should also be encouraged to pursue activities away from their course studies through membership of student enterprise clubs and community-based schemes.

Alternatively, their potential could be nurtured through so-called 'business incubators' which can help them develop ideas into businesses while they are still at university or college.

Dr Bellingham said universities and colleges need to make students more aware of what is available to develop their enterprise and entrepreneurship skills away from their regular course work.

She added: "If enterprise is embedded into the curriculum, it can springboard interest toward extra-curricular support."

The draft guidance has been produced following consultations between the agency and a raft of organisations including Birmingham City University, the Higher Education Academy, the University of Cambridge and the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs.

Copyright Press Association 2012