Are marketing degrees fit for purpose? : Re-shaping the undergraduate marketing curriculum to better equip early career marketing practitioners for employment and career progression
This thesis asks if, as literature and stakeholders suggest, the primary purpose of marketing degrees is to educate the next generation of marketing professionals, are they 'fit for purpose?' A wide-ranging literature review suggests not, with substantial gaps between academic theory and tools and those used in practice, but that vocational degrees can develop both relevant marketing competences and the graduate and employability skills valued in employment. The multi-dimensional Vocational Competence Profile (VCP) model is proposed, together with a Vocational Competence Curriculum (VCC) showing how HE's theory driven paradigm may be adapted to more effectively prepare graduates for practice. Adopting a pragmatic and mixed-methods approach, primary research comprised analysis of job and person specifications for 375 early career marketing posts and semi-structured interviews with 45 practitioner, graduate and academic stakeholders. The job analysis identified that only 56% of suitable posts asked for a degree and of them only 25% for one in marketing, whilst 77% required prior experience. That marketing degrees hold little value and aren't pre-requisites for marketing posts, together with the importance of experience and a variety of employability skills was confirmed by stakeholders. The research identifies that the curriculum's focus on strategy above tactics, large consumer above business and services markets and 'full-mix' (4/7Ps) marketing as promulgated in standard textbooks and courses fail to reflect and prepare graduates for their early career jobroles, a majority of which focus on tactical marketing communications. It also identifies the importance attached to a range of employability skills, notably communications, teamworking, ITC, numeracy and organisational skills together with a variety of personal traits. Findings are used to populate the VCP, then, drawing on examples of good practice, suggest how the VCC may be reverse-engineered to focus on practice, employability and experiential learning, 'teaching less, but better' to better prepare graduates for their career.
- School of Management