What are your thoughts on the current engineering and MBA job market in India and the world? As well as what are all the trends that can greatly impact and revolutionize its present state?
There are three relevant trends from the labour market that are likely to change the current state of engineering and MBA degrees:
• More and more they are hiring people based on competencies such a complex problem solving, cognitive flexibility, critical thinking, etc. Moreover, they look for people that are team players, can coordinate with other and have emotional intelligence
• On the other hand, we see a surge in the demand of some technical skills such as applied technology, AI and data analytics.
• Lastly, companies are looking that do not only understand technology from a technical point of view but are also able to connect technology with business. I.e. how to make technology works for business.
These trends might make us rethink how we approach education on MBA and engineering. More and more there should be a shift towards competencies and applied technology to business on top of some specialization in statistics and computer science.
• Today, it is evident that most of the MBA students are struggling to get employed, while the majority of the employed students are ending-up in non-core jobs. How do you think the educational institutions thought to re-devise their teaching system & content in line with the industry requirements?
What you are stating here is connected to what I explained before: the shift towards competencies when hiring people. Companies are dealing with a strong uncertainty and need talent able to cope with whatever it comes.
The educational system should rethink what it is teaching. We like saying that in Higher Education content is "not king anymore" and this applies to the entire educational system as a whole.
Having said this, we still have a long way to go. We do however some notable exceptions that are adapting its approach towards education and MBA. In our case for instance, at IE Business School we learned about this when speaking to recruiters. We realized that the curriculum should be reviewed and core content needed to be complemented with competencies development. Based on this:
• We have introduced new programs specialized in how to connect technology to business (we are introducing for instance in October the Tech MBA, which has precisely this focus).
• We have redesigned programs to ensure they focus on developing the right mindset and leadership to disrupt and transform (see our Global Onlline MBA).
• We introduced across the entire portfolio new courses and specializations around Data Analytics, Disruptive Technologies, etc.
On the other hand, what do you think employers are looking for among the current MBA graduates? How can they cut down on the huge training costs incurred even after hiring skilled them?
I believe they look for people that capable, committed and agile & flexible. Being capable is not only a question of technical knowledge, as I explained, but also about getting people with the right competencies. The commitment leads to people that are eager to run an extra mile, to engage with the organization and make things work. And the agility and flexibility are connected to the capabilities and commitment but goes beyond; it means being able to manage yourself during uncertainty, being able to unlearn and learn quickly and react quickly to strong market changes.
"In Higher Education content is "not king anymore" and this applies to the entire educational system as a whole"
The former is related to training. People that have these characteristics are going to learn to a large extend by themselves. By nature, they are eager to keep on learning and push themselves beyond their boundaries. This does not mean that companies do not need to invest in these people, but the investment in training will be significantly lower (and probably much more efficient) than the one you deliver to people without this profile.
What are some of the latest technologies driving the Education industry and how are these advancements making the lives of students easier?
There are several of them worth mentioning but I will focus on two of them: learning analytics and Artificial Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
Learning analytics is about getting data analytics at work in the Education Industry. In the moment we are able to collect and analyze relevant data from students we are going to be able to understand better where they stand, predict the sort of learning they are going to get and personalize the sort of learning and support each student should be getting. This will eventually lead to a strong personalization of the education at a massive scale and improve the learning outcomes we get. This is by the way a reality and more and more, schools like IE Business Schools, are incorporating this to support students, faculty and management.
The AR & VR still need to be further developed in terms of application, but the potential is huge and it will change and enrich to a large extent how we teach. To mention some applications, both AR and VR can simulate different scenarios and help students with decision making and leadership skills. The student finds themself confronting a real case and needs to decide on the spot what is the right decision and how to manage people.
Where are we headed in terms of the future of the Education industry, market behavior and learning advancements?
The Education industry is to have a strong shift due to coronavirus. Every academic institution has been forced to move online, with more or less success, in a question of weeks. The likely result will be that Education institutions, faculty member, students and employers will realize about the benefits and incredible added-value that we get from incorporating online and digital learning tools within our traditional education. My view is that, as it happened in Marketing some years ago, people will not speak about online or offline (face-to-face) but the new Education, that incorporates the best from both worlds. At IE Business School we like calling this "Liquid Learning" in the sense that students will get access to different pedagogies that all together provide an enhanced learning experience, fully customized, thanks to the right integration of offline and online formats. The student will get access to offline and online technologies and experiences to attain learning outcomes, decide the right blend and end up receiving something adapted to his profile and needs. The trend was there before coronavirus and will now become unstoppable.
• What strategy should an education industry adopt in order to position its growth?
We basically need to walk our talk. If you attend to any Strategic Management course from any University we will all encourage students to be close and empathize to customers, embrace new technologies, be agile and support customers and employees during their journeys. Well, this is exactly what we all need to do: we need to get close to students and employers, understand what they are looking for and design programs accordingly, incorporate new technologies that boost learning, introduce learning analytics, be quick to new market demands and provide to students and alumni with the right support during their professional development.
• How is the Education Industry powering itself in the Digital Age?
The Education Industry is going through its own digital transformation process. There has been a steady trends towards incorporating new technologies in the last five years that has exploded in 2020.
In the last years, Universities have been testing new platforms and started to run pilots with new emerging technologies such as learning analytics. Moreover, they were entering into new ways of teaching such as Coursera and EdX and checking on new Educational Applications and technologies available in the market. It was a "nice to have" although everybody realized that it would come at some point.
However, with the new current scenario, what was optional will become a "must have" if you want to remain in business and be competitive. Digital competencies are not anymore optional both from a student (they know what they can get and they will ask for the customization new technologies enable) and employer perspective (digital competencies are essential for new hires). If you add to this that universities are jumping into new technologies and some of them will master them in a short time, powering yourself with new technologies and digital capabilities will be one of top priorities for the Education Industry in the next two years.
• On a concluding note, based on your robust industry experience and knowledge what message do you want to out across to the College Leaders, Professors, Industry Leaders, HR leaders, and Students.
The World has changed, companies are looking for a new set of competencies and students will not take anything but a customized learning experience empowered by technology. We need to work together as an Education Industry and agree on which competencies need to be developed, what is the right combination of processes, technology and pedagogies we need in place to make it work and work together to make the change happen. Working cooperatively is the only way we have to be up to the expectations from our different stakeholders. If we do not react quickly and adapt, some new players will enter the market and the get the "job to be done". We have no time to lose!
Ignacio Gafo, Associate Dean - Global & Executive MBA Programs
Professor Gafo is the current Associate Dean of Global & Executive MBA Programs at IE Business School. Prior to joining IE full time, he has held managerial positions for more than 15 years in multinationals like Vodafone, Mars and Canon. His main asset for teaching is his experience in national and international environments in Marketing Strategy and Change Management.