An increasing number of University of Wolverhampton students are boosting their employment skills by working on live projects with local businesses.
The Challenge Academy programme enables students to improve their CVs and stand out in interviews, by working on real business challenges that companies are facing.
Since September, over 500 students from a range of courses have completed challenges which have involved over 30 local businesses including Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, Stourbridge Automotive, Love Writing Co and Fixed Wheel Brewery. Some challenges have also supported internal university initiatives. Challenge Academy has extended internationally through an EU funded “Link You” Programme. This has enabled students at Wolverhampton to work with universities in Europe and Latin America, which has provided a fantastic collaborative opportunity.
Projects have involved students from all faculties carrying out research, advising on issues facing businesses and working on live briefs as part of their academic studies.
Businesses have received short-term support in a variety of areas such as legal advice, support with social media, marketing, Design, IT, market research, competitor analysis, Search Engine Optimisation, HR employment practices and product design.
The project has been running since 2016 and has worked with over 60 companies and benefitted almost 2,500 students to date. Challenge Academy also offers cutting edge contemporary input through its training and seminar series (CAST). This offers an excellent networking opportunity and is accessible to students, businesses, and academics.
Dr Rob Harris, Principal Lecturer for Employability in the Faculty of Social Sciences, established the Challenge Academy. He said: “This is a really successful way of engaging with business and ensuring students gain vital employability skills to make them stand out from the crowd. Some of our students have progressed to gain good jobs as a result of the challenges they have been involved with. The jobs market is highly competitive and it is imperative that our students stand out from the crowd. Through Challenge Academy our students gain valuable experience which they can talk about in interviews. This adds significant value to their pitch and gives them heightened confidence. At the same businesses benefit from accessing creative input. Challenge Academy enables regional organisations and charities to access fresh ideas, young creative minds, and academic expertise. Feedback from academics that have been involved in challenges has also been encouraging. Live projects strengthen student engagement and attendance. The impact on performance in assessments has also been positive. Furthermore, Challenge Academy enables a database of business case studies to be created which enriches the teaching experience.”
For further information about Challenge Academy, visit: https://www.wlv.ac.uk/business-services/challenge-academy/
Staff who would like more information about Challenge Academy can email: FossChallengeAcademy@wlv.ac.uk
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Date Issued: Monday, 08 July 2019