Source: Financial Times
by Patricia Nilsson,
The FT’s 2018 Skills Gap survey reveals what lies ahead in the jobs market
Caroline Zimmermann acquired all the usual benefits from her MBA at Insead — an understanding of the basics of business and a great network. One skill, however, was not on offer: Python, the programming language.
Python is one of the most important tools of her job as a senior data insights and analytics director at BMG, the music company. But when she started the job, her lack of precise technical skills turned out not to matter, because
“To look at something and go ‘I don’t know anything about this, and I’m going to teach it to myself’ is more valuable when you work in the tech sector than what you actually know,”
That ability to solve complex problems is one of five skills rated most important by employers in the 2018 FT MBA Skills Gap survey, which seeks to provide a snapshot of the skills in demand — and those that are hard to find — in MBA graduates.
This year we have expanded the survey to capture sector-specific results and the opinions of MBA graduates. More than 70 leading employers from all over the world took part. Below are the most significant trends.
1. Soft skills are
Our data shows that employers want to hire graduates with loosely defined qualities known as “soft skills”, such as the abilities to work within a team and with a wide variety of people — rated most important by 64 and 54
“Hard” skills, which are traditionally taught on MBA courses, are different. Employers said candidates with these skills, which include accountancy, were easier to find.
Susan Sandler Brennan, assistant dean at the career development office of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says: “I reject the idea that so-called soft skills are somehow easier — they are harder.”
Such skills will prove resistant to automation, she predicts. But they are harder for employers to assess during the recruitment process than, for example, proficiency in accounting — one of the skills employers find easiest to hire. A rise in pre-interview online assessments means many employers only meet
The ability to build, sustain and expand a network may be a skill employers value highly, but “unless [MBA graduates] have technical skill requirements, they are not even getting through the door,”
2. Some employers are questioning the value of MBAs
Some leading employers are increasingly
“At an MBA level we would expect candidates to have professional experience, be able to manage a team and act as a leader with clients,” says Anna Purchas, partner and head of people at KPMG UK.
The consultancy looks for candidates with subject expertise, leadership skills
3. Big data matters
Employers across all sectors said big data analysis was one of the rarest and most difficult skills to recruit — 13
At KPMG, applicants for roles in
Sangeet Chowfla, chief executive of the Graduate Management Admission Council, says business schools are trying to introduce technical elements to courses and that the rate of development “is fairly fast”.
Nevertheless, a third of technology companies that answered the FT’s survey said programming is the skill they find most difficult to recruit in MBA graduates.
MIT’s Sloan, which
4. Employers find it increasingly difficult to hire graduates with the right skills
Just under half of the 72 employers surveyed said they struggled to hire MBA graduates with the right skills — both soft and hard — compared with a third of companies last year.
In terms of the most important skills in the workforce, graduates mainly agreed with employers: soft skills matter the most.
But when asked what skills MBA students were most proficient in, the results were contradictory, suggesting the expectations of employers and candidates are mismatched.
Two of the skills that graduates from elite MBA programmes found they were most proficient in — drive and resilience, and the ability to solve complex problems — were also among the skills recruiters said they found the most elusive in MBA graduates.
“Early MBA graduates may overvalue their abilities,”