MBA not useful, reform universities to reflect changing job market – WEF Panel

Panelists at a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting have raised a thought provoking argument saying it is not useful for a university graduate to pursue an MBA course before he or she starts to look for a job as it is perceived to be.

The panelists, in their view, opine that new graduates must get job experience first, and then pursue an MBA later if it aligns with their career aspirations.

They made this known during a discussion on talent development on the second day of the WEF’s Annual Meeting of New Champions 2012 in Tianjin, China September 12, 2012.

According to Mark Du Ree, Regional Head, Japan and Asia, and Member of the Executive Committee, Adecco Group, Japan, he originally planned to pursue his MBA, but, “after working for a few years and finding my passion, I realized I didn’t need it anymore.”

They believed that as the labour market rapidly changes, universities need to play a stronger role in preparing graduates for life in the workplace.

“There is a mismatch between where talent is and where it’s needed,” Mark Du Ree told participants.

“We have very good students who have a great academic career, but we seem to have a disconnect between what’s needed in a corporation and the skills brought to the table,” he adds.

N. V. (Tiger) Tyagarajan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Genpact, India, agreed that training the next generation of workers to cope in fast-paced and quickly changing environments are key.

Tyagarajan argues that graduates frequently lack the skills necessary to succeed. “We spend as much training them as we’d spend on somebody who’s not a college graduate,” he said.

“We have our own curriculum, we have our own people, and we keep training them,” he added.

Complementing Tyagarajan’s point, Mark Du Ree added that some universities employ professors or instructors from the corporate world, but many are staffed solely by academics. “What we need to do is have more corporate cooperation with the academics,” he said, noting that young people need to be better prepared.

“How can we get academics to spend time in the real world – in the working world – so they know what they’re talking about?” he asked.

For Ronald Bruder, Founder and Chair, Education For Employment (EFE), USA, matching talent with demand is another challenge.
Ronald Bruder who is also a social entrepreneur, said that his organization works with employers to find and train talent that meets their needs.

He noted that there are thousands of new engineering graduates in the Palestinian Territories each year, but very few jobs. To solve the problem, his organization teamed up with Consolidated Contractors to send some graduates to Colorado State University to learn how to manage construction sites, a skill which is in demand.

Young workers are also changing the nature of companies, said Kevin Taylor, President, Asia-Pacific, BT, Hong Kong SAR.

Taylor, whose company has 20,000 employees in the UK alone said young workers are not interested in working seven days a week, or staying up into the early hours of the morning to get their work done.

According to Taylor, the future will not be how young workers adapt to companies, but how companies can adapt to the working habits and ideals of young workers.

Du Ree agreed, saying young talents are looking for more than just financial compensation. “The question is, do they want to work with us, why do they want to work with us, and what do we represent? Are we able to help these people have better work, and therefore translate that into a better life?”

By Ekow Quandzie

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