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Sport on the CV and the race to employment post-graduation


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Questions over the drive of British students in comparison to that of their foreign counterparts have coincided with a report proposing that playing competitive sport could be the secret to future employment success.

The doubts cast on the Brits followed a report in the Wall Street Journal – entitled ‘The Billion Dollar Startup Club’ – that listed the thirty startups that were valued highest by venture capitalists. Only three of the thirty were from Europe and not one of those from the UK. The leading European company was Zalando, the German fashion and lifestyle startup. Zalando followed in the footsteps of the US e-commerce giant in selling only shoes at first before expanding out to clothes and lifestyles products.

Despite the Coalition Government proclaiming that Britain is a ‘GREAT’ place for entrepreneurs, there are yet to be any shining success stories from the UK startup scene. Though many say that the reason lies in risk-averse investors, others have whispered that the Bright Young Things of the UK are not as driven as their American counterparts.

A Question of Sport

A recent study by The Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University suggests that if drive and tenacity are the components missing in a British post-grad, then playing more sport could be the remedy. The study suggests that graduates who played competitive sport during their time at university earn an average of £5,824 more than students who did not, equating to a massive 18% difference in wages.

The results of the study are based on a survey of almost 6000 students on behalf of British Universities & Colleges Sport and point towards sport's effectiveness at creating employees who demonstrate high levels of leadership, ambition and drive. Speaking after the publication of the results Shibli stated that; "The results of this research are proof positive that sport in higher education provides a recognised and valuable part of the student experience," going on to say that "Involvement in sport makes a real, measurable and positive impact not just on the student experience, but also on life beyond higher education."

Leadership, Ambition and Drive

The results of the study have been underpinned by a further survey of 112 graduate recruitment companies who have observed a direct link between participation in university sports and employability. This survey identified a number of skills and strengths found in active students that were valuable to employers giving potential candidates a much greater chance of becoming employed quickly.

Chief executive of British Universities & Colleges Sport had this to say regarding the study: "In a challenging economic climate, employers increasingly require candidates to demonstrate achievements beyond academic ability – key attributes such as team work, communication skills and leadership that can be developed through sport make a student stand out.”

Leaving campus for the ‘real world’ has always required the endurance of a squash player and the dexterity of a scrum half. With the employment market still looking bleak six years after the financial crash, news that playing sport leads to better employment prospects may well fall upon receptive ears. When browsing nice sports clothes from Zalando, picking out some new trainers students might well wonder what ambition was fostered upon the playing fields of German campuses, and if it is also to be found in the UK.

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