Release Date: 08 February, 2019

A wider choice for postgraduate study

The rising demand for postgraduate qualifications is a global trend which is set to continue. This is in response, in part, to an increasingly globalised, interconnected, digital environment where new skillsets are required in all sectors of industry.

There is a need to hire people with complex higher-order critical thinking, problem solving and people management skills essential for the coordination of talent and resources in the new world of work.

This is in line with the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Future of Jobs report 2018, which notes that skills that will be in demand in 2022 include analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, critical thinking
and analysis, leadership and social influence, reasoning, problemsolving
and ideation and emotional intelligence, among others.

When it comes to business education, prospective students now have a much wider choice of options.

This is according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)’s MBA Prospective Students Survey 2018, which notes that ‘with each passing year, graduate management education becomes more globalized and  competitive, and continues its ongoing evolution to meet the needs of  candidates and employers and address the changing nature of work’.

The GMAC Corporate Recruiters survey noted that 81% of responding companies in the US planned to hire MBA graduates in 2018, while in the Asia  Pacific region demand was even higher, with 90 percent of employers planning to hire both MBA and Master of Management (MM) graduates.

...hire people with complex higher-order critical thinking, problem solving and people management skills...

While the MBA is still the preferred programme for most prospective students, there is a growing interest in other Master’s programmes, such as an MM degree, according to the survey. Business schools are responding by offering a wider range of postgraduate options, with intensified competition between programmes to attract top talent.

Our experience has shown that there is definitely a trend away from generalist qualifications towards specialising, particularly in leadership, change  management, strategy, business analytics and finance, digital business, negotiation and risk management.

For many business people and organisations there is a pressing need to  continually upskill, or re-skill in the changing world of work.

The WEF report stresses the importance for an organisation to have ‘a  motivated and agile workforce, equipped with futureproof skills to take  advantage of the new opportunities through continuous retraining and  upskilling’.

People are driven by the need to renew their relevance in a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive global market: new knowledge and skill sets are  essential in order to adapt to tectonic shifts in technological innovation that are  disrupting all sectors in the global economy.

It is this imperative to learn and adapt to new ways of thinking and doing that  is pushing many people to pursue further education, often after several years  of work.

Another driver behind this trend is what I refer to as ‘intergenerational competitiveness’, where Generations Y and Z have moved into the workplace  and are unsettling the comfort zones of long-standing employees, forcing them  to remain in tune with disruption and innovation.

General economic and political uncertainty is also pushing people to upskill  themselves with mobile, globally transferable skills in order to improve their  global employability and relevance in a world of constant disruption.

Charisse Drobis | Head | Career Management Services | Wits Business School (WBS) | | @witsbschool

Published in the Education & Training Feature
February/March 2019