By Praveen S. and Deva Prasad M.
Management education in India is going through a sea of change. The change has been brought about due to many trends, both in the student skill-set and the industry expectation.
The changes in management education can be understood in a cyclical manner: the changes in student skill-sets have brought about a change in industry standards, which in turn has encouraged changes in the way students are trained.
There are few students who study business and management in a broad manner. Most students are now trained all through their school and college to learn in small capsules. This means that the students’ skill-set is lacking. Most students lack critical thinking, curiosity, and a passion for learning. The situation was far different a few years ago. Students with a passion for learning brought multicultural and multidimensional perspectives into the classroom. This also had an effect on their peers, which resulted in learning concentrated in experience.
In the past, students were keen learners and were capable of learning more skills as their foundations in educational concepts were strong. Now, students have weak foundations on most subjects given the penchant for capsule-based learning. Changes in imparting basic education are perhaps to blame for such weak foundations in simple courses. Lasting learning cannot only happen through multi-media; real-world experiences stimulating challenges and curiosity are needed as well.
It is important to differentiate between the concepts of learning and grasping. Grasping is limited to the information level, while learning requires application-level understanding. Take, for instance, a physics principle being explained through a video. Although the student may understand the concept, without applying it and experimenting with it in the real world, they will be unable to fully grasp the meaning. The same goes for a subject like mathematics. There is no better way to learn than through making an error.
Thus the ill-effects of a capsule form of education in schools and colleges is negatively impacting affects the quality of students who seek a well-rounded management education.
The employer has begun to sense the problem. Recruiters have time and again raised the issue of the students’ inadequate skill-sets. They are now turning towards specialised skills, since overall managerial skills are lacking in most students. Data analysis, understanding of the regulatory frameworks of the financial market, and social media expertise are just some of the specialised skills in demand.
It is this demand for different skills and better management training that has led to some changes in management education, including the introduction of specialised courses and institutes. Many institutes have now started specialised programs on business analytics, entrepreneurship, finance, retail, and more.
An increasing number of students are flocking to such courses. And slowly the industry will absorb them to meet its demand.
Praveen S. and Deva Prasad M. are faculty members at IIM Kozhikode.
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