Students and employers want learning that heads in more than one direction

29 April 2020

In the third of our See the Future blogs, Claudia Monteiro, Senior Consultant at CarringtonCrisp, examines what students want in their degrees and what employers want from students.


Getting new postgraduate programmes up and running is laborious stuff. Planning the curriculum is a tiny fraction of the work; on the other side of it lies a lengthy process of approval through academic groups and management committees. By the time the head of marketing gets wind of a new Masters on Human Resources Management, she’ll be playing catch up commissioning market research and testing positioning with focus groups.

See The Future, the study CarringtonCrisp ran in collaboration with EFMD and GMAC found that students coming to business schools will be valuing transversal competences more than self-contained subject areas. There was little mention of accountancy, marketing, human resources or finance from respondents – of course, these will still have a place, but what they really want in their business education is data analytics, innovation, sustainability and decision-making in uncertain and complex times. More than 8 out of 10 understand that they will have to learn new skills to advance their career in the future.

Students are seeking a new approach from business schools – 78% want more experiential learning, 75% want to develop ‘soft skills’ not just technical expertise and 61% want schools to offer more flexible approaches to taking a degree.

In the post-Covid19 times to come, business schools have a chance to respond to what students want - and perhaps in the process ease the burden of giving birth to programmes in the shape we’re accustomed to.

Those schools ready to embrace such change will be favoured by employers. When it comes to skills and competences, organisations are very much aligned with what students want. They’re looking for people who are open to work in a multinational and multicultural workforce, who embrace digital transformation, bringing together technology and management skills.

Employers will look for graduates with strong social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity to succeed in business. They will look for graduates that have learnt not only about business, but also arts, humanities and sciences in their studies. And in the next five years, they’ll look for programmes that include digital transformation, innovation, technology management and creativity and design thinking.

In February, management guru Tom Peters suggested that 2020 was the year to hire a theatre major for a leadership slot, instead of an engineer or an MBA. You might say this sort of statement is designed to win on the provocations slot, but if there’s one thing we’ve learnt while we work from home during a global pandemic, it is that emotional skills and team creativity are a lifeline when organisations are forced to adapt to new realities.

Now is the time to get ready to do more than business as usual.


Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels


Check our 'See The Future' free summary.


Read more of our 'See the Future' blogposts:

Time to think about business unusual

A new world of work means a new world for business schools

I wander lonely as a cloud security architect: Why Wordsworth might point towards the future of business education

Are you dreaming of a liquid business school?


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