The UWE International Talent Scheme

Brief: 

The UWE International Talent Project brings together international students and local businesses to offer work experience to overseas students studying in the United Kingdom and to provide companies with an international business asset.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • Local businesses in the United Kingdom face obstacles when attempting to expand into new overseas markets, such as language barriers and insufficient awareness of cultural business practices.
  • International students want to gain experience in the UK job market.
Solution: 
  • The University of the West of England has created a platform for local businesses to recruit international students who wish to gain work experience while in the United Kingdom.
  • Through the Talent Project, businesses enjoy a cost-effective way of using the high-level specialist and international skills offered by the international students at UWE.
  • International students help with translation and interpreting services; research new markets; liaise with key suppliers, clients and customers in a specific overseas market; and develop international contacts by phone or on line.
  • The university becomes the agent for efficiently matching employers and employees in a market that might not otherwise materialize.
Impact: 
  • There has been consistent positive feedback from employers who found the combination of the students’ language skills, cultural knowledge and academic qualifications a significant asset to their business. Examples:
    • A graphic design student from China has produced illustrations for an RFP.
    • A marketing student from France has developed an export strategy for a UK company expanding into France.
    • Two African business post-graduates are helping a local forum events company research and develop key areas for future roundtable events across Africa.
  • The majority of the employers are subject-matter experts who are otherwise unable to secure such resources due to cost restrictions and limited access to a foreign talent pool.
Why has it worked?: 
  • A clear convergence of interest that makes such collaboration possible. All parties have their specific needs met and gain from the UWE’s brokering of this market and effective provision of screening services.
  • UWE provides employers with the most suitable students through support with CV selection, and the interview process.
  • UWE helps with planning the timing and schedule for student work experience to optimize the work-study balance.
  • Quality personnel are available at a low cost.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 
  • Universities may be uniquely positioned to facilitate matching of prospective employees from an untapped labour pool to prospective employers in need of highly motivated talent with specialized skills, using, in part the opportunity to gain experience, as the currency of exchange. Because of their proximity to this labour pool and their deep expertise in selection of talent, they can perform this matching function more efficiently than other institutions.
  • Universities should take a hands-on approach to bringing local businesses and international students together.
Foundational Issues: 
Information gaps
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 2: Collaboration across organizations within a country
Region: 
Global (all of the above)
Economic and political context: 

United Kingdom:

  • Population: 62.2 million (2010)
  • Unemployment rate: 7.8% (2010 est.)
  • GDP: US$ 2.25 trillion (2010)
About the Author(s): 
  • With around 30,000 students and 3,500 staff, UWE Bristol is the largest provider of higher education in England’s southwest region.
  • UWE is home to 2,636 international students.