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Why is business and commercial awareness so important to students and graduates?

Every organisation, whether it is a multi-national company, a major national or regional business, a small business, a third sector business, a charity or a government department/ Agency, needs a workforce that is commercially aware. The focus, structure and scale of the various operations set out above might be different but all will have customers or clients, suppliers and employees and each will need to do business or carry out transactions and agree contracts with a range of stakeholders. When looking for potential recruits most employers will therefore look to assess whether you have commercial awareness and can demonstrate some understanding of, and interest in, how their business operates, what markets they serve and who their competitors are.

In February 2008, The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) identified, in a report entitled What do Employers Think and Want, that ‘‘ a lack of commercial awareness is the single most common failing in graduates applying for employment’.

A further report from the CIHE, issued early in 2010, entitled ‘What Business wants from Post Graduates’ also highlighted a lack of commercial awareness as being one of the major problems encountered by employers when recruiting Masters or Doctorate level graduates.