The Financial Express

Do universities build sustainable job competencies?

Md Zarif Tajwar Shihab | Published: February 13, 2020 16:43:18 | Updated: February 15, 2020 21:39:31

Do universities build sustainable job competencies?

The prevailing reason for enrolling into a business programme is to become a practitioner. Business graduates carry aspirations to become CEOs, CFOs and business tycoons etc. Do universities build the necessary competencies in their students to achieve these goals? It is important to know the extent to which business undergraduate programmes prepare one for the workplace. Insights from veterans in corporate workplaces have been taken in order to gain perspective on this matter. 

Business and Market Development Coordinator at Swisscontact Md Sakib Khaled mentions, "A lot of real-world professional competencies revolve around problem solving skills. Often solving these problems requires you to step out of the theoretical framework and be creative. That's what universities should focus a lot more on, challenging students to think out of the box to come up with solutions." Business education would inevitably become a lot more effective for aspiring professionals if it can reflect the dynamic setting of real businesses, which will force students out of their comfort zone to find a solution. 

Vice President of Six Sigma Management Institute Asia Sadique Salim points out some major shortcomings of business degrees and how they fall short to produce managers. He says, "For business graduates, universities are failing to fill the need of businesses. For example after graduating in finance, they need to do further professional qualifications. The BBA in management course topics are very theoretical with almost no applied management concepts. I don't understand why someone will do master’s in accounting when they can do CA, CMA, CPA, ACCA etc." 

Business practitioners need to interact with a wide variety of people on a daily basis. Universities should ideally have an environment that fosters the elements to make students ready for such interactions. Some business schools have this culture while others do not. Deloitte Consultant Fableeha Bushra Choudhury hailing from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka shares her own experience, "What IBA excels at teaching are soft skills and people skills. I believe this is what gives IBA graduates a leg up in the industry when seeking jobs. However, strictly speaking in terms of technical competencies, I found myself less familiar with the tools we were required to use at work." 

Recently universities are putting certain software skills as credit requirements which is definitely a step in the right direction. 

Graduate TA at Missouri State University Sujash Purna shares his unique perspective, "Universities can become safe spaces for individuals who are taking the next step in their education. Instead of producing mindless stooges of the system, universities should promote critical thinking and understanding of the world that functions in the backdrop of a hubbub of productivity and capitalist lures of profiteering entities." 

Some universities have little to no flaws while there are others trying to improve. Business education is distinct from all other disciplines and requires an all encompassing and in-depth approach at the same time. Ensuring both is difficult but attainable. Furthermore, if the business schools enhance their students' interpersonal skills, then organisations will get ready graduates to join the workforce. 

The writer is a third year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at zariftajwar4@gmail.com

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