The world as we know it has undergone tremendous changes of late. Much credit to the recent pandemic that transformed how we operate across all fronts. The expectations from a present-day workforce are not what they used to be only a few years ago. The workforce in question is responsible for facilitating the ease of our everyday lives. Be it engineering a way to home-deliver groceries in under 10 minutes or ensuring our assets remain safe from digital prying, we want more from our talent, and quicker. As a result, business administration has become critically intertwined with technology, giving rise to a novel modus operandi. This only goes to show that B-Schools must have witnessed this transformation up close, forced to forge a new relationship with skills and academia.
The year 2022 started with a golden phase for many prominent B-schools across India as they observed a scramble for campus placements among top employers. Businesses representing BFSI, IT, ITeS, E-commerce, healthcare, Software, Hospitality, and many other industries rushed to top institutions across the country to source business talent. The institutions saw a rise of more than 22 per cent in the demand for frontline and midline workers. Evidently, digital transformation doesn’t come without a certain level of business acumen. But how did they get their business talent ready for the tech-heavy industries? Let’s try to find some parts of the answer as we go on.
The primary goal for businesses is to keep growing, and while the pandemic changed a lot of parameters, this fact remained intact. How they reach those goals has become a topic of discussion right from the onset of 2020. Today, nearly every task has become tech-dependent. Interactions among employees do not need a meeting room anymore; they have been taken online. Similarly, when it comes to business-specific tasks, the ask is to find employees who can stay up to speed. The impact can be seen in the hiring model that has shifted from role-based to skill-based evaluation. A business degree that would have landed a candidate multiple jobs prior to the pandemic may not make the cut today. As a response, B-Schools are seeking to push the envelope bit by bit.
Tracking the changes in industries as well as recruitment strategies, B-Schools have adopted new measures to foster ready and deployable talent. The focus today is more on developing niche skills which are geared toward fulfilling specific roles. Due to the emphasis on disruption-led learning, academic bodies are trying harder than ever to get to the core of business education. Courses and curricula are constantly under review and evolution. The Bachelor’s and Master’s courses offered today by premier institutions are predominantly tech-based, aiming to boost the eligibility of their graduates. Business Analytics, Data Science, Data Analytics, Management Science, etc. are a few of the offerings from these institutions that have technology deeply embedded in them.
The education on offer is not simply changing in the matter, but in manner too. Blended learning has been adopted by multiple colleges and universities to cater to students who are available both online and offline. Big Data has turned into a goldmine for modern business education. Institutions are relying on figures and statistics through technological, socioeconomic, and geopolitical levers to mastermind ways and techniques of effective learning. More and more students today obtain education via case studies and hands-on exposure to various industries. Keeping in tandem with the overall business environment, B-Schools are striving to create future-proof talent that can be recruited and retained.
All of this boils down to a newfound demand for skills and expertise. Any news headline will tell you about the rising skill gap. Recruiters are facing the direct brunt of it but the long-term tremors are also being felt by educational institutions. Clearly, there’s a need for an overhaul of outdated processes and approaches. Niche skills like cybersecurity, AI/ML, data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, AR/VR, etc. are not simply desired but preferred. Today, designations are not restricted to an XYZ executive or an ABC officer. They are rather free-flowing where more than the employees’ roles, their skills matter, a key turning point for B-Schools to catch on to.
As the hybridity of businesses and STEM skills gain momentum, we can also see an industry-spanning urge to go beyond the same old tech-meets-business combination. Businesses have zeroed in on skills and attributes that a school won’t typically teach you. Behavioural skills can come in the form of critical thinking, effective communication, will to learn, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, sensitivity, and much more. Any open position today calls for at least one, if not more, of these skills which are deemed soft skills but have made their way into the wishlists of employers across the globe.
B-Schools have come a long way, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. The pressure is still building as the next generation of employees is expected to be masters of their crafts. There’s no denying that there is a long way to go but keeping apprised of the industries and business environment will surely push our business education standards forward.
(The article was first published in OPEN Magazine)
SVP and APAC Head, NLB Services