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Skills and knowledge

What are the attributes needed for good “entrepreneurs” and how do we develop these in graduates?

Discussion started with what exactly is meant by the word ‘entrepreneurs’. Does this refer to freelancers or the Richard Bransons of this world? Many believe the term a turn off for many students as it can be a daunting prospect. It is important to demonstrate the power of ‘being enterprising’. This can be within an already established company or in a start-up business. The attributes are essential for all graduates to possess. There is also a widely held misconception that entrepreneurs come from business schools. There are some specific skills that those looking to start up a business of their own would need and that would be difficult to embed within courses. The group concluded that ‘bolt on’ enterprise or entrepreneurial modules or courses would not be the optimum way to approach this issue. Instead finding ways to embed this within courses and to apply the attributes and capabilities to the particular discipline would give students and graduates a broader view of what it means to be entrepreneurial and would particularly benefit those students who wouldn’t self-identify as a potential ‘entrepreneur’ but who could benefit greatly from that kind of education. However, a large part of the task is to enable students and graduates to recognise and articulate their capabilities and attributes gained through their studies and wider experiences at university.

Knowledge, image by PAVDW - flickr

Attributes of a good “entrepreneur”

  • Comfortable with risk
  • Communication
  • Collaboration – identifying and working with different individuals/groups/organisations to achieve an end goal


  • Universities should identity where it is important to teach entrepreneurship as a stand-alone topic.
  • Embed these attributes across courses instead of teaching as a standalone (optional) course/unit.
  • Explore how this could be a theme for TESS funding.
  • Equip students and graduates to recognise and articulate their entrepreneurial capabilities and attributes gained through their studies and wider experiences at university.

How can universities and business encourage ‘in work’ progression? (i.e. employees returning to education)

Participants debated whether employers are willing to pay for this? There is reluctance to invest at the moment due to economic conditions. Only if SMEs could share the risk and success should this be progressed. The issue around how universities deliver learning in an organisation was discussed.


  • Universities need to be more flexible – meeting business/employer needs with short lead in times/shot contracts.
  • Awareness raising of opportunities, early in the process and throughout.
  • Articulate the value-added for all parties – offer needs to be flexible, tailored – needs to be something in it for everyone.
  • Continued co-investment > repository of success stories aimed at business – explore future of co-funding – what was the success story.

What are the barriers to provision/take up of sandwich placements?

The recession was identified as a significant barrier as students panic to get into a job. Employers seem to be withdrawing from this process and often do not offer a salary with the placement, enterprise placement schemes or internships.


  • Communicate benefits of sandwich placements/internship – the value added.
  • Endorse recommendation of The Wilson Review for max sandwich fee,
  • Placements need a salary – BIS code on internships
  • Small variants of forms: internships, placements, SWs – confusing picture.

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