The results of the Financial Times 2018 MBA Skills Gap Survey are surprising. More precisely, they are somewhat surprising, they are not very surprising.
For educators, arguably especially those in second-tier business schools, the findings are, or they should be, disheartening. They are another reminder that the value of MBA degrees is increasingly being questioned, because they are thought increasingly irrelevant. According to the FT, “Some leading employers are [growing more] skeptical about the MBA qualification as a means of delivering candidates with they skills they need – soft or hard.” One result: Almost half of the 72 employers surveyed said they struggled to hire MBA graduates with strong qualifications, compared with a third last year.
Young professionals face their own warning signs, among them employers who now seek capacities and characteristics not easily learned in a classroom. For example, companies find it easy enough to recruit people who have “hard skills,” such as marketing, accounting, and use of social media. However, they find it difficult to recruit people who have “soft skills.” These include 1) the ability to influence others; 2) the capacity to think strategically; 3) the competence to solve complex problems; and 4) the characteristics of drive and resilience. Soft skills are, moreover, deemed more important by employers than hard skills, though they remain harder to measure, especially early on, during recruitment.
Once again those of us in the business of teaching leadership and management are being implicitly questioned about the value of what we teach. Once again those of you in the business of learning leadership and management are being implicitly questioned about the value of what you learn.