Time to grow your own talent, managers hear

April 3, 2008

Universities are struggling to fill managerial posts as the number of applicants dwindles

Jon Renyard, director of academic services at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, believes that many prospective managers may be ruling themselves out for the wrong reasons.

Speaking in advance of this week's Association of University Administrators conference, where he is heading a seminar on the topic, he said it was increasingly difficult to appoint senior, middle and lower middle managers.

Mr Renyard's session, "Where have all the managers gone?", will ask "why nobody wants to go into management any more".

He said: "If you had told me seven years ago that within three years I'd be appointed to a senior management post, as I was, then I would have been astonished, and I might have run a mile.

"How do people know how to climb the ladder? Some aspects of management may sound scary when in reality they are not scary at all."

Mr Renyard said anecdotal evidence suggested that the number of applicants for management posts had fallen by as much as 50 per cent on levels of just a few years ago.

However, he said: "Even if you get only three people applying, if two of them are brilliant then you get the right person for the job."

But evidence also suggests that there has been a rise in the number of posts that have had to be re-advertised in the sector.

One solution developed at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, he said, was a "grow your own" approach to filling lower management positions.

The aim of the session at the AUA conference, he said, was to inspire prospective managers who had not considered stepping up to do so.

He added: "I do believe that all of us, as senior or middle managers working in the higher education sector, have a responsibility both to the staff, and to the sector as a whole, to look to the future and the next generation of managers at all levels.

"I do not believe that it is (the human resources department's) job to manage and develop the institution or, by extension, the sector; it is the job of all those of us with management responsibility."

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

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