Technical skills and management skills do not always go hand in hand. When recruiting graduates in particular, employers are prone to complain that they can find the technical abilities they need, but business acumen and people management skills are in much shorter supply.
The Integrated Graduate Development Scheme aims to help employers solve this conundrum. One of several IGDSs in engineering-related industries is the MSc in aerospace jointly run by the University of Bristol and University of the West of England, with modules provided by a number of other institutions.
As well as promoting the development of technical competence it concentrates on the acquisition of people management skills and business expertise.
Graduates who have typically spent three to five years in the aerospace industry are groomed to work more effectively in project teams and to become project leaders and chief engineers.
British Aerospace, Westland Helicopters and Rolls-Royce are backing the course and a further 20 companies are involved. The Department of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces also participate.
Training managers and senior engineers from these organisations sit on the IGDS steering board, which develops the course according to the specific objectives of the companies.
Students, who will already have taken a first degree, have three ways to study on the IGDS. A part-time programme of 12 one-week modules over a three to four-year period, plus an industry-based research project, is the most popular method.
The alternatives are a one-year, full-time period of study or attending individual modules on a stand-alone basis. A postgraduate diploma can be awarded for partial completion of the full programme of study.
Students on full-time or research-based programmes receive an MSc from one of the universities on successful completion of the course.