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Increasing graduate employability at Glasgow Caledonian University

SIE is working closely with a number of institutions on their enterprise programmes and has over 50 workshops planned across Scotland in the first half of this academic year.  Douglas Smith from Glasgow Caledonian University writes about their Student Leaders programme, what they are hoping to achieve, and how SIE is providing support.


The Student Leaders Programme at Glasgow Caledonian University is entering its seventh year in 2013/14 and it has grown steadily since its inception. The programme is run by the Students’ Association and aims to increase participants’ leadership, employability, entrepreneurship and innovation through a combination of practical workshops, online learning and personal reflection.

I am delighted that the Scottish Institute for Enterprise are once again working with the Student Leaders Programme to deliver a series of seminars designed to examine effective leadership and personal leadership qualities. As a core module, all new Student Leaders will take part in an SIE-led workshop as part of their leadership journey, meaning that the reach and impact of the seminars will be wide-ranging.

The Student Leaders Programme is designed to boost the skills, knowledge and experience of the participants in all fields of leadership. There are sessions delivered by Students’ Association staff, by University departments and by external partners such as Lloyds Banking Group, Enterprise Rent-a-car, Artisan Specialist Management and Volunteer Glasgow.  We have working relationships with Morgan Stanley and Endsleigh Insurance Group, which I think are extremely important in keeping the programme up-to-date and relevant in today’s employment environment. In discussions with our partners, the Students’ Association aims to keep training in line with what is sought after by graduate employers and to increase the opportunities for Glasgow Caledonian University graduates through a commitment to extra-curricular activity and skills enhancement.

Additionally, as part of the Student Leaders Programme, SIE delivered a workshop entitled Innovation: Leading the Future which gave participants the opportunity to examine a real life situation and develop their entrepreneurial thinking through identifying opportunities and the development of new ideas and solutions. This practical link to reality is important and helps to avoid too much theory that students can find difficult to put into practice.

I was delighted to have input from SIE at the launch of this year’s Student Leaders Programme in September and a number of students commented on the value of having a contribution from SIE in order to put in to context their leadership roles and demonstrate some of what has already been achieved and the potential for further achievement through effective leadership.

The Student Leaders Programme at Glasgow Caledonian University is particularly important because in order to participate in it students must be actively volunteering, either within the university structure or out with. This means that the students taking part are already making a contribution to university life and society and they have self-identified the desire to improve their leadership skills and develop their knowledge and experience. Our feedback shows that many people are motivated to participate in the programme in order to boost their employability and future career prospects, which is a key factor for the Students’ Association in running the scheme.  We also want to celebrate the contribution that volunteers make to our organisation and this is reflected in the fact that participants receive a certificate from the University Principal on completion of the programme, it appears on their university transcript and every year we hold a free celebration event with food, drink and dancing for successful student leaders!

Employability is undoubtedly a driving force of the Student Leaders Programme and equipping graduates with the tools to flourish in a competitive employment market is a key aim. Through working with industry and organisations such as Scottish Institute for Enterprise, we hope to help produce leaders of the future that able to display visionary thinking, set a positive example, communicate effectively, encourage others, work collaboratively, solve problems and deliver results.


Douglas Smith,
Student Leaders Coordinator, GCU Students’ Association

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