OUTLOOK — By Hamda Al Shamsiyah — The Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme has over the last few few years outshone the other disciplines worldwide. An MBA certificate is a sure password for ambitious youths aspiring to enter the world of business and scale the career ladder.
This trend has lately swept the labour market in Oman too as almost all educational institutions incorporated MBA into their Master’s programmes to meet the demand of increasing numbers of students, mostly employees, seeking to obtain the coveted certificate. Along with other business management specialisations, the MBA is the most sought-after certificate the world over.
On the other hand some experts are calling for the development of business management curricula at a time when the specialisation as a basic condition for recruitment is receding in a large number of establishments. The employment services director of Facebook once said that her company doesn’t recruit on the ground of specialisation as they seek employees with personal skills the most important of which is the ability for strategic planning and analytical thinking. Such skills are not acquired at business administration colleges, according to human resources officials at Facebook.
This trend from the part of Facebook and other companies has prompted prominent universities in Europe and the US to consider overhauling the business specialisations, especially after the number of graduates from these universities has dropped. Employers think the business colleges at these universities no longer cater to the labour market needs as they focus only on the basics of finance and accounting without giving the students sufficient knowledge on the other fields that are inextricably related to job performance.
In his book Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education, author William M Sullivan says that today’s business world is based on a broad platform of knowledge as the business fields have become more co-related than ever before but the academics who are shut out of the real business have failed to understand the developments in the world of business.
This has prompted several world renowned universities to redesign the curricula being taught and introduce arts and literal studies to enhance the students’ knowledge and enrich their creativity and problem solving abilities. Business administration colleges are teaching out-dated subjects which did not witness any development since these disciples were introduced in 1,800 as job qualification programmes.
In an article published in the Wall Street Journal last month, the writer Melissa Korn said that a considerable number of universities have already begun to introduce changes to the business curricula and are encouraging the students to take up other specialisations besides business administration. Those who studied arts were sought after by employers as the study of arts boosts the person’s creativity which is a key skill in today’s business management.
It seems that our local employers are also attaching attention to the new business orientation. I met an Omani girl who graduated from the University of Manchester with IT major, she works for Nawras Telecommunication Company. When I asked her about the link between IT and telecommunication she said the company’s recruitment policy is not based on specialisation as we believe that the success of the employee depends on his/her personal abilities and skills.
The new trend has been perceived by many students who opted for other disciplines in their higher studies. It is not uncommon nowadays to find master’s students adding up IT or law to finance and accounting or engineering at a time of high demand on employees with wide knowledge of various fields.