Delivering live briefs in a virtual world
Home improvement retailer, B&Q works with Solent University to deliver live business briefs, gathering creative insight from the University’s student body.
B&Q, whose Store Support Office (SSO) is located on the outskirts of the city, is a major employer in the region. Their SSO is home to a variety of customer and business focused support roles, of which the company actively recruits from the University. B&Q has worked with Solent for several years to deliver live briefs, providing mutual benefits to their business and our student community. As well as providing fresh insights and thinking from our students, this activity provides B&Q with an opportunity to engage with their potential future workforce.
This year, in response to Covid-19, B&Q continued working with the University to deliver a virtual live brief that saw students put forward solutions as to how B&Q could use social media influencers in their future advertising campaigns, how they could better position their digital offering for their customers, and how they could improve communication with colleagues who are working from home during the pandemic.
Over 50 of our business management students took part in the virtual challenge, which saw briefings and collaboration sessions delivered through Microsoft Teams. Each of the student teams also shared their thoughts on what could make a great graduate scheme, suggesting ideas such as getting the opportunity to rotate around different business areas, spending time in stores to get to know B&Q’s customers, and taking up placements in sister companies abroad.
Prompted by these ideas, the teams at B&Q are now considering how they could implement changes in 2021. Deb Garrett, Employer Brand Manager at B&Q, explains why the company is keen to benefit from live briefs:
At B&Q, we believe that anyone can improve their home to make life better. Having a fresh perspective on our business from Solent’s students, who may well be the next generation of homeowners, is really valuable. They see things differently, have unique ideas of what customer service should look like in the digital age, and bring a wealth of diverse experiences and opinions that give us new ideas to work on. And, it’s a pleasure working with them.
Live briefs provide a fantastic opportunity for employers and students to work together, developing innovative solutions that drive business performance whilst providing real world experience for our students. Courses across the University offer the opportunity for businesses, of any size, to set a project for our students to work on. Further information on live briefs can be found here, alternatively contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nurturing future talent through placements
Enterprise Rent-A-Car partners with Solent University to deliver impactful placements which help to break down barriers, enabling individual and organisational growth.
With sites across the UK and an established graduate recruitment programme, Enterprise is committed to serving the communities in which it operates, including creating employment opportunities. Keen to ensure they fulfil this commitment, Enterprise has partnered with Solent to grow the number of applications of students from a BAME and lower socio-economic background, as well as convert and promote talented students into successful employees.
The business has worked with Solent to provide placements that align to courses delivered through the Solent Business School. The placements, based in local Enterprise branches, provide students with hands-on experience to develop and apply their business skills. The programme covers a number of business areas including: business management, management skills, marketing, and customer service. Alongside this, staff from Enterprise have participated in the University’s professional mentoring programme, enabling the business to work directly with students and gain insights from future recruits.
The collaboration has resulted in Enterprise having access to a relevant and diverse applicant pool, made up of 44.1% female and 35.7% BAME students, an increase of 24% and 10% respectively, from the previous year. A number of graduates who have gone onto secure employment with Enterprise have since progressed through to managerial roles, with two former placement students from the 2018 and 2019 programmes having been promoted to Assistant Manager and Branch Manager roles.
Ashley Hever, UK and Ireland Talent Acquisition Director, at Enterprise explains why the business chose to work with Solent University:
Home to a diverse, entrepreneurial student community and with expertise in business management Solent was a logical choice for us when choosing to partner with a University. We’ve gradually built our engagement with the team at Solent, who have taken the time to understand the needs of our business and present solutions that drive benefit to everyone involved.
The partnership was shortlisted for best collaboration between a university and a business in the National Undergraduate Employability Awards 2021.
Placements provide a fantastic opportunity for employers and students to work together, developing a pipeline of future talent that drives business growth whilst enabling our learners to gain real world experience. Courses across the University offer the opportunity for businesses, of any size to offer a placement. Further information on placements can be found here, alternatively contact email@example.com.
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