A Call for General Programmes in Business and Management

Dr. Boris Blumberg describes the Skill Gap Survey, which depicts which skills employers look for in MBA graduates and which skills they find difficult to recruit.

The table below reveals the five most and five least important skills employers are looking for as well as the five skills most difficult and least difficult to recruit.

Taken seriously, these results reveal what business schools do well and where there are opportunities for curriculum developments. Not surprising, working in a team remains an important ability! Business students are well equipped to work in teams, as team assignments are a standard assessment in most programmes. The table also reflects the high demand for big data analysts, but also shows that working and interpreting big data requires more than good programming skills.

5 most important skills / abilities 5 least important skills / abilities5 skills most difficult to recruit5 skills least difficult to recruit
to work in a teamapplied microeconomicsto influence othersspecialized marketing skills
to work with a wide variety of peopleto use social media to benefit businessstrategic thinkingability to work in a team
to solve complex problemsaccountingdrive and resilienceaccounting
to build and sustain people networksprogrammingbig data analysisto use social media to benefit business
to prioritize and time managementcorporate social responsibilityto solve complex problemsforeign languages

What is more surprising is the fact that specialized subject knowledge – whether in economics, accounting and marketing – is considered less important and widely available on the labour market. Important skills in shortage are more general skills reaching from time management to people skills and strategic mastering of complexity.

How do these demands in the labour market coincide with the plethora of specialized master programmes in business? Shouldn’t business schools broaden their offering or even open their curricula for other disciplinary fields such as technology and arts and culture?

Navigating complexity as understanding and leading diverse groups of individuals requires taking different perspectives and working along and with different approaches. The mono disciplinary hammer is not sufficient to build the future. Business school graduates need a rich, continuously developing set of tools and instruments. Today MBA programmes with a diverse mix of students in terms of culture, previous education and experience are still the best offer in the market providing the skills and abilities employers look for.