Our Latest Report | The challenge of change

30 July 2021

A new normal might also mean a new business school. COVID alone won’t be the driver of new business school models and provision, but the power of new technology and the need for staff to reskill and upskill more often as they live and work longer than before, together with COVID impacts, all suggest change in the business education sector.

Among the employers taking part in ‘The future of lifelong and executive education’ study, only 35% already use business schools for their learning and development. Instead, employers prefer professional industry/trade bodies, consulting firms and in-house service providers. Sometimes schools can’t provide the programmes that best meet employers development needs, sometimes they are simply too expensive, too theoretical and not applied or employers only use in-house provision.

However, perhaps more important is impact. Just over eight out of ten employers (83%) indicate that measuring the impact of learning and development will become key when selecting a provider in the future. Just over four out of ten (44%) individuals say colleagues have not realised benefits after investing in a business school programme. If a school can’t demonstrate the impact of previous projects and programmes with companies or prospective students, if they don’t have the data, they may simply be passed over when it comes to selection of a learning and development provider.

Both employers and employees are also interested in the wider impact of business schools. Just over three-quarters of employers (76%) and two-thirds of individuals suggest that business schools need to be clear about how their offer positively impacts wider society, not just business and industry.

Business schools may also lack key skills among their staff. Of course, schools will have strength in pedagogy, in making the most of learning, but they may not have the B2B marketing and customer service skills that employers will expect. They may also find they can’t move quickly enough to meet employers needs for fast and flexible learning solutions.

Schools seeking to grow a lifelong and executive education offer will also need to look more to their alumni. Just over half the individuals taking part in the survey (52%) indicated that they were likely to choose a business school as a provider because of previous study with a school. A similar percentage (53%) are very or quite interested in providers that build communities of learners to enable continued peer learning beyond formal studies.

For business schools the future is likely to mean leveraging their strengths – alumni, content, pedagogy – and adding flexibility, speed and impact to create their own new normal. Business schools that simply try to head back to where they were before the pandemic are likely to find an ever more competitive marketplace, when they cold instead seize new opportunities to build successful and sustainable new business models.

Find out more about how business schools will change, download a free copy of ‘The future of lifelong and executive education’ report on our website.

Subscribe to our newsletter