The marketing environment is changing at an accelerated pace and the need for marketing information in nowadays is greater than at any time in the past. More and more companies elaborate marketing information systems which provide to the managers details about the wishes, the preferences and the behavior of the customers. At the present time the companies with better information enjoy a competitive advantage; facilities of making the offers and the marketing plans etc.
“Marketing research is the function linking the consumer, customer and public to the marketer through information – information used: to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; to generate, refine and evaluate marketing actions; to monitor marketing performance; and to improve understanding of the marketing process.” (Kotler, P.,Armstrong, G.,Saunders, J., & Wong, V. (2002), Principles of Marketing (3rd ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited)
Description of the research
Essentially, the purpose of a marketing research is to response of five basic questions: “Who? What? Where? When? How? ” . Every marketing research is a result either of some sort of contradiction between the desired and actual condition or the availability of unused opportunities. The purpose of this research is to define the main work skills needed for the labour market when the students finish their education. It will be in help for the business schools to receive more information and to prepare the students on a high level. The survey contains 25 questions and the interviewees are people who work and respond for the hiring employees in several Bulgarian companies, for example – general managers, executive directors, human resource managers etc. Some of the topics in the questionnaire are about communication skills, organizational skills, ability to work in multicultural environment, computer and language skills etc.
Research reasons and objectives
Marketing research helps a business to gain a more detailed understanding of the consumer’s needs and wants; the effectiveness of the current marketing; to reduce the risk of business failure; to forecast future trends etc. Every company has to follow a series of steps of the marketing research process in order to achieve its aims. Some of them are problem definition, development of an approach to the problem, data collection, data preparation and analysis etc. “The market research process follows these stages; set objective and agree approach; carry out pilot survey; collect and classify information; collate and analyse information; present findings” (Morden, A.R., (2003) Elements of Marketing. London: DP Publications Limited, page 75) In this case reasons for research are:
– Between higher education institutions – to attract more future students and to offer more adequate education. – Between young graduates – to be more competitive and well prepared for the life out of the school or the college. 2. Reducing youth unemployment.
3. Concern for the social, ethical and cultural development of the young people. Objective of the research are companies with different activities, and the purpose is to get detailed information about the labour market in more areas.
The managerial problem is connected with the decisions which have to be taken by the managers. “A marketing management problem is defined in one of two ways: (1) If the symptoms of failure to achieve a goal are present, the marketing manager must select a course of action to regain the goal, and (2) if the symptoms of the likelihood of achieving a goal are present, the manager must decide on how best to seize the opportunity.” (Burns & Bush Marketing Research, 4th edition, chapter 4,
http://www.mktgresearch.com/4eWebsite/Students/ChapterAids/PDF/BurnsBushChapter4.pdf, viewed 16.12.2012)
The managerial problem in this case is connected with fact that the managers of the higher education institution are concern about the graduated students and want to improve the educational methods and program. Problem can be also the complaints of the graduated that they are not well prepared enough for the areas they want to work and this will cause negative impressions for the image of the institution. The research will help and show the managers the main points which they have to draw attention.
Defining the research problem is one of the most important steps in the marketing research process. It concerns the provision of information to assist in making effective decisions. The research problem here is “What are the skills that employers require from candidates – young graduates from business schools?”
Research questions should be stated as clearly as possible. There are two main types of questions that are used in marketing research – closed-ended and open-ended. A closed-ended question is one where the respondent is given a range of answers and has to make a choice of one or more. These questions provide answers that are easier to tabulate, and are generally used to obtain quantitative data. An open-ended question is one where the respondent is allowed to answer in their own words. The purpose of these questions is to obtain more detailed information. The current research contains close-ended questions and the interviewee has to choose one answer or has to rank the answers depending on the importance of the possibilities. For example: “5. How important the team work is in your company?
(1) very important (2) important (3) not important
6. Which are the 3 most important skills for team working (according to your company)? (1) ability to communicate (2) cooperation (3) confidence (4) mutual understanding and respect for various ideas and proposals (5) individualism (6) understanding of tasks (7) listening skills (8) other, which ……”
A hypothesis is an informed guess or assumption about a certain problem or set of circumstances. It is based on existing knowledge about the problem from previous studies, and other sources. Once the information is collected, the researcher should test the hypothesis. In the current research hypothesis might be “If the high education institution change the methods of teaching or the program, then the future graduates will be satisfied and well prepared for the labour market” or “If the high education institution change the methods of teaching or the program, then it will affect positive for the image”
Method / analysis for research
Data collection method
Once a research question has been determined the next step is to identify which method will be appropriate and effective. Data collection methods are personal interviews, telephone interviews, self-completed surveys, observations, focus groups, etc. For the case here the most appropriate method is face-to-face interview. The strengths of this method are the personal contact with the interviewees (allows for greater interaction, permits in-depth discussion, provides opportunity to probe and explore questions, interviewees do not need to be able to read and write the respond etc.). Weakness can be that the interview requires staff time and quiet area to conduct it.
Population and sample
“To obtain a sample, you must begin by defining a target population. The target population is the group or the individuals to whom the survey applies. In other words you seek those groups or individuals who are in a position to answer the questions and to whom the results of survey apply. A valid sample is a representative subset of the target population. If we do not have representative sample, we cannot claim that our results generalize to the target population” (Kitchenham, B. (2002), Principles of survey research, Software Engineering Notes, 27 (5), 17-20; http://www.idi.ntnu.no/grupper/su/publ/ese/kitchenham-survey5.pdf; viewed 16.12.2012) The target population in this research are all type of managers in the companies (general managers, accounting managers, financial directors etc.), but the sample are those of them who are connected with the recruitment of the employees.
“Field research or fieldwork is the collection of information outside of a workplace setting. Field research involves a range of well-defined, although variable, methods: informal interviews, direct observation, participation in the life of the group, collective discussions, analyses of personal documents produced within the group, self-analysis, results from activities undertaken off- or on-line, and life-histories. Although the method generally is characterized as qualitative research, it may (and often does) include quantitative dimensions.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_research; viewed 16.12.2012) Due to the facts that the method for the study is face-to-face interview and the busy schedules of the interviewees -the field work are offices in the chosen companies indicated from the managers.
Data analysis and interpretation
The marketing research clearly shows that the employee’s communication skills are crucial for dealing with clients. Only 2% of the people state that being good at those is not really an important factor. From the majority having 67% voted on “essential” and the rest 31% on “important” we can deduce that communication skills is truly an integral part for being well-prepared for the labour market.
With the research done we found out that generally employees make presentations rarely (46% of the cases). Second and third comes the result “once a week” and “several times a week” with 28% and 22% respectively. The rest 4% never tried to do any presentations.
In the next pie we can analyse that employees participate in negotiations “very often” and “often” with around 40% for both. The remaining 20% go to the group “rarely”.
The written business communication skills undoubtedly have to be excellent (54%), or at least very good (35%). The other 11% do not consider so. They either think that these skills are not essential (only 7%) or they do not require them (4%).
Another crucial skill that the research shows is team work. Three fourts say it is “very important” and the rest (one quarter) reckon it is important. We have to note that no one believes it is not an important skill to have.
The next bar chart provides the results for the three most important skills for team working needed. The most important is the ability to communicate. The second and third most valuable are cooperation skills and mutual understanding and respect for various ideas and proposals. The other five needs come after that as shown below:
This bar chart shows how people rank skills in terms of significance for good team working. Those in descending order (from highest to lowest in importance) are communication skills, organization skills, adaptability and flexibility.
The pie chart below illustrates that employees are divided to work more often on strategic tasks (36%). A third deals with repetitive operations, another third with creativity involved processes, and the rest voted for other activities.
The analytical skills are shown in the next bar chart. The most outstanding and valuable are problem solving (the leader in this graph), decision making and logical thinking. The latter two are equally required. The ability to apply knowledge does not lag behind a lot too in contrast to the rest of the skills desired.
The following bar chart depicts the best skills in importance when working on a project. These comprise team working skills, which is the most rated one, organization skills, problem solving, initiative, self motivation skills, leadership and, lastly, work ethics.
From the next two pie charts we can see that exactly 57% are against multicultural experience as a requirement. Those who believe the opposite (43%) have also indicated that it should consist of working (nearly 50%) rather than studying (37%) or living abroad (16%).
Computer skills as a requirement are rated relatively high – 33% for proficient, 54% for advanced and 13% for basic user. This means that students should have more computer-related classes.
The pie chart below indicates that for the majority the foreign language learned should also be on advanced level (59%). The other percentages are split between proficiency(17%) and intermediate(22%), with a small portion of 2% for basic level of language.
The next pie chart focuses on the use of those foreign languages. It can be seen that in practice it is applied regularly from 35% of the employees. Most use it often (43%), and it is used sometimes by 22% of them. Everyone has said that the language learned is put into practice.
The preferred methods of evaluation by employers is using an Interview(55%). Others use certificates as an acknowledgement, carry out tests or involve the employees to do a task completion. All of these three methods are evenly used with 15% each.
When it comes to computer skills employers prefer using task completion (65%) to certificates(15%) or tests (13%). Other methods are also used, but are not preferred much (7%).
From the two pie charts below, it could be said that previous experience is expected. Three thirds regard this as a requirement. When asked what experience are the employers looking for, slightly above 40% for both “more than 2 years” and “up to 2 years” fell in those categories. The rest voted for ”up to 1 year” (15%).
The next pie chart is simple – 87% of the employers consider “internship” as a work experience, whilst the rest 13% reckon the opposite – that it cannot be counted as such.
The following two pie charts show that employers tend to like recommendations (59%), and in particular such from previous work place (88%). The other 12% consist of 4% from school or university and 8% from somewhere else. Those employers who do not demand recommendations are still a big slice of the chart – about 41%.
The bar chart below illustrates what skills are sought from the new employees. They are most interested in communication skills. Second to that is problem solving, and third is other qualities. The rest in significance order are: knowledge based experience, initiative, proactive thinking, adaptability, language skills, computer skills, ethic, and self evaluation.
The final pie chart represents who was interviewed. The director, manager, marketing department and other comprise 60% of it. The Human Resource Managers take the rest 40% of the chart.
Review significant findings
One of the most interesting findings are that employees in first place need ability to communicate so as to be adequate in their work places. Another significant finding is that team work is very important for companies, which means that in order to have a successful business you need a huge family inside it. Another thing you have to consider before start working is the language knowledge, according to the questionnaire you should be advanced in at least one foreign language, because you will use it often in companies. New employees are most commonly assessed for their language knowledge on their interview in 55% of the cases. Also your level of computer skills have to be at least advanced. Employers are most likely to give you a task completion to check your computer skills. Certificates are used by companies in only 15% of the assessments. Previous computer experience of 2 years is also needed. Companies (59% total) state that they require recommendations from previous work place from employees.
From this research we can advise the higher education institutions to encourage students to learn not only theory by heart, but to focus on the combination of information learned and actual practical skills so that they have the proper qualities on the labour market. This way it would be better for the students to develop their skills – communication, team work, etc. rather than only pure knowledge. Moreover, as the time passes, the system of education should be up to date with the new innovations and technologies so as to freshen the students’ minds with new ideas and to provide them with in-dept knowledge for their course. Conclusion
To sum up, we believe that our research will help the higher education institutions to make changes where needed. We explored the questions regarding what is important to the employers and gathered the answers. This data collection was analyzed in order to present the information needed to enhance the educational system and therefore enrichen the students’ understanding and practical skills required from the employers on the labour market.
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