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Business Networking: Developing employability skills through forum theatre

The Careers Service at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are continuing to support and promote the highly successful business networking events that were developed through PMI2 funding. The most recent business networking events have been delivered to master’s students in the School of Health and Life Sciences and to MBA students.

Our international students are high-level users of the Careers Service and we want to provide additional support to ensure that they are aware of the essential employability skills required for the UK and global graduate recruitment markets.

By developing a highly engaging and participative approach, we want students to:

• actively explore and practise a range of business networking skills;
• learn directly from employers and alumni;
• improve self-confidence and personal marketing.

We believe that this approach is ideal preparation for entering the job market and an excellent opportunity to further develop both language and social skills in a supportive environment.

By incorporating ‘forum theatre’ into the workshops, we introduced a drama technique that explores solutions to issues that arise in specific situations, and this was a core element of the skills-based workshops. Delivering forum theatre effectively involves funding drama professionals and working closely with them to design and develop appropriate material.

In our scenario, students observed a networking event. They watched the scene as an active audience, and not passive observers, and were invited to stop the drama at critical moments and encouraged to discuss how to improve the situation.

The workshop activities culminate in a business networking lunch with a range of graduate employers and alumni. As the business networking events have become school discipline-based events, the range and spread of guests has reflected this. For example, the networking guests for the MSc Bioscience event included graduate employers, SMEs, a sector specific recruitment agency and an academic recruiting for Doctorate-level posts.

The networking lunch provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and practise their networking techniques. A plenary session is also held and employers are invited to provide feedback to students.

We believe that we have developed a winning combination of activities and this has been endorsed unanimously by both students and employers:

'Superb illustration of what to look at when thinking about approaching employers in a networking situation.' (Student)

'To support international students in this manner is highly commendable and sets your university apart from many others I know.' (Employer)

The Careers Service at GCU will continue to promote business networking and forum theatre events as a very powerful, energising and engaging way to develop employability skills in a highly effective way.

Note: Business networking has also featured in the poster presentations at the SHEEF Scottish Higher Education Employability Conference: Strengthening Partnerships with Employers in June 2011.


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Tags: wilson review international international students business networking University AGCAS

Created on: 25 June 2012

Last updated: 25 June 2012


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