Business students are preparing for tomorrow’s world, but as more prospective postgraduates deem technology management an important topic, employers value something else entirely.
Tomorrow’s MBA – a report that analyses changing trends in postgraduate business education and student preferences based on feedback from over 1,200 respondents across 39 countries – shows that technology management has jumped to second in what students perceive as the ‘most valuable’ skills, coming joint second with strategy.
An additional 26.7 percent of prospective postgraduate business students cited leadership as the ‘most valuable’ subject while 17.9 percent ranked strategy highest in this field.
It is unclear whether technology management and leadership will meet employers needs. Technology is set to be prevalent in our changing society, but a recent report said leadership skills are not sought after.
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Leadership and management skills do not feature in the five most important traits for employers globally, according to QS The Global Skills Gap in the 21st Century report.
Instead, students should be focusing on problem-solving, teamwork, communication, adaptability and interpersonal skills as the five most sought-after graduate qualities, says the report.
Enterprise – a subject that tends to include problem-solving, networking skills and resilience – took a back seat in this year’s Tomorrow’s MBA report.
“The increasing interest in technology management has been an emerging trend over the last few years,” says the report’s author, Andrew Crisp.
“Students are very aware that technology now features heavily in most industries and, without a good understanding of it, their career options are going to be limited.”
The divergence from current employer needs could lead to problems in the graduate job market as the economy continues to diversify in the face of automation and the emergence of Industry 4.0.
“There is a need for the most valued skills to be clearly communicated, to ensure that when students up-skill, they focus on areas which organisations prioritise. From an employer point of view, the ability of students to learn is more important than their creativity,” state the report authors.
MBA students could, therefore, run into trouble if they graduate without the relevant skills, while employers may also find it hard to recruit new employees who meet their expectations.
The report explains: “The graduate labour market is full of expectations – from both graduates and employers.”
“Arguably, graduates are in a tougher position, both due to their lack of work experience and also because they need to understand what is expected of them, demonstrate it during the recruitment process and ultimately appeal to their future employer.”
With leadership, technology management and strategy coming out top for postgraduate students’ expectations of what is needed, it’s unlikely that demands from the QS report will be met.