Can Universities Help Develop Managerial Skills? Professor Brian Morgan, Director, Creative Leadership and Enterprise Centre, Cardiff School of Management at UWIC, Explains the Role Academia Is Playing in Helping Achieve This

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UNIVERSITY academics have been accused of not engaging fully with business. However, an increasing number of academics are now better informed about business processes, including bringing new products to market and developing marketing and sales strategies to support expanding business sectors.

"This transformation in the relationship between academia and business was pioneered by Stanford University in Silicon Valley, which helped bring new ideas to market by developing close links with venture capitalist firms," explained Professor Brian Morgan.

He added: "Stanford University became the catalyst for Silicon Valley's growth and a similar story is seen with Cambridge Science Park and the St John's Innovation Centre in Cambridge, where hundreds of hi-tech firms have been helped to bring new products to market.

"Unfortunately, many of the less prosperous regions of the UK are not in a position to emulate these success stories because of a lack of critical mass in certain industrial sectors and related structural weaknesses."

Other forms of partnership between higher education and industry could, Prof Morgan believes, still pay dividends.

He said: "A major opportunity lies in the area of skills development. The main obstacle lies not so much with the provision of relevant training programmes by universities but in the lack of demand by business for skills training."

This is especially true in the case of leadership and management skills.

Pointing to a number of reports that have identified significant gaps in formal business and management training and highlighted the fact that less than 20% of UK managers hold management-related qualifications, Prof Morgan said: "The DTI's Leadership and Management Advisory Panel Report argues that 'bespoke development programmes are needed that engage participants in the complex challenge of leadership'. It concludes that 'excellence in leadership and management are essential to provide strategic direction for organisations - particularly SMEs,' (May 2006)."

In Wales the skills deficit has been highlighted by similar research.

"It identified a need to 'increase the demand for, and supply of, intermediate and high-level skills, including management and leadership'," Prof Morgan said. …