From education to employment

University of Birmingham and Department for International Trade celebrates successful first year of partnership

The University of Birmingham and the Department for International Trade (DIT) has extended its work together after the success of a modern languages module aimed at giving languages graduates enhanced skills after they graduate.

The second-year enterprise module lasts for 10 weeks and covers a broad range of exporting topics including international market selection, finance, product innovation and business culture. It provides credits towards a student’s degree and is exclusively delivered by International Trade Advisers and experts in language, culture, digital and intellectual property from the Midlands-based team of DIT.

The first year of the programme has seen 14 students benefit from the new module and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with students rating the module 4.6 out of 5 in their evaluations.  Students evaluated the programme as a ‘wonderful opportunity’ and said ‘having outside lecturers made it even more interesting as it was more relatable to real life scenarios and will definitely help me in the future’.

Following the positive feedback and successful launch, the University is expecting the number of students taking the module next year to more than double.

Ian Harrison, Head of Exports for the Midlands Regions at the Department for International Trade, said:

“The appetite for British-made goods and services across the world is growing all the time and it’s vital that the workforce of the future is equipped to tap into this overseas demand and export successfully. By working with the University of Birmingham we’re able to bring real-life experiences and insight into the lecture hall to give tomorrow’s business leaders the best grounding for international success.”

Verity Parkin, who completed the module last year as part of the 2nd year of her BA Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences degree, said:

“The module is a chance to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new in a supportive setting. It was valuable hearing from different speakers from Department for International Trade each week as they each gave their individual perspective on the world of exporting.

“It has increased my confidence in possibly working in the business sector in the future. I have recently been exploring starting up an ethical clothing business (through the University’s B-Start Up programme) and taking this module has helped me to see the possibilities for exporting products in the future if the venture is successful.”

Director of Undergraduate Studies in Modern Languages, Dr Emma Wagstaff, at the University of Birmingham said:

“The module was introduced as part of major curriculum updates in Modern Languages, which aim to equip graduates with skills for the workplace alongside linguistic fluency and enhanced cultural awareness.”

This embedded and contextualised approach to enterprise education is already being identified as innovative in terms of employability, and is the product of partnership between the university’s careers department, Careers Network, and leading academics. 

Helen Hook, Enterprise Educator at the University of Birmingham, said:

“We work closely with industry partners to co-design modules which ensure that Birmingham’s graduates are work ready, enterprising, creative and transformative thinkers.”

The module forms part of the University’s work to embrace enterprise education through experiential learning and authentic assessment, which means working with local and regional industry partners to equip students with entrepreneurial skills including creative thinking, resilience, independent learning and utilising resources in the best possible way, with the ultimate goal of equipping students for employment after graduation. 

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