First Published on TSE Consulting
There are now more international postgraduate sports management courses than ever before. As it stands, there are enough of these courses on offer that SportBusiness International compiles a comprehensive ranking of the best courses across a number of different fields every year, and still leave many courses out altogether - they now have over 500 courses to choose from!
This sharp increase has been driven by a number of influential factors. The most prominent driver of this development has been the overriding push within sports administration to professionalise its management. There have been of course many other contributory developments, amongst the most influential of which has been the ability of the internet to make people in every part of the world aware of these courses. Similarly, an increase in the spending power of many emerging market nations has meant people are fortunate enough to now have the resources to commit to taking significant time out of work as well as the financial burden that the course may carry.
As a result, many qualified people are leaving their countries to pursue international studies in sports management. Those that return to their home countries to take up positions in national level organisations generally tend to be going back to roles held previously or ones that were earmarked for them before they had left in the first place. However, the majority of students it seems actually strive to go into the international scene as roles at the international level are seen as being more appealing, more exciting with more money and opportunity on offer.
It is important to note at this point that the Masters on offer are tailored not only for equipping students with the tools for management of internationally operative organisations, but also for national ones as well.
So what can these National organisations do to try and attract these newly qualified individuals, assuming that they too can benefit from the increased professional skills that are imparted during their education? Outside the obvious budgetary constraints, there are perhaps some realistic options that could be considered.
- One of the first options is to consider whether existing staff are interested in taking on one of these postgraduate course. Benefitting from the professional skills that are taught at these courses doesn't necessarily have to mean bringing in someone new. Often these courses favour hiring people with experience in working within all levels of the sport industry anyway. This could help avoid the restrictive budgetary element of hiring an additional, highly qualified person as well as promoting personal and professional development among staff. Some degree of incentive could be provided to do so, such as partial payment of fees or an increased salary upon return.
- National level organisations should remain aware that often potential employees need to experience first-hand the work that they do before they can envisage themselves doing it full time. In order to activate this in potential employees, it could be worthwhile for these organisations to partner up with the courses and offer them case studies or pieces of work during the year that may be a long time outstanding or at the bottom of the to-do list in the office. Often, students will relish the chance to put into practice what they are learning inside the classroom in a real life scenario. They will realise that building experience such as this into a CV as well as the opportunity of a testimonial on their good work from a national sporting body is a great thing to have leaving the course. In actually doing practical work for the national federations, students may become more drawn to the idea of working for them once graduated.
- Be open to hiring international people. Despite being a national level organisation, hiring people from different nationalities can reap massive benefits, bringing new viewpoints and approaches to the table. By emphasising that the national federation is keen or even open to this, this may attract more students entering the national job market. Frequently, one of the primary attractions to students taking on international masters courses is to get away from what is familiar to them and to seek new challenges elsewhere anyway.
By considering some of the above options, national federations and similar organisations may find themselves better able to attract employees who have been specifically trained to take on the challenges of the increasingly complex environment of the sports industry.
By Dan O'Toole, Project Manager, TSE Consulting.