How Business Schools Are Adapting to Meet Workforce Needs
What every business student learns is that where there is challenge, there is also opportunity. Around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has forced business schools to adapt, redirect, and refocus their offerings to meet the challenges presented by the “new norm” and to identify and cultivate the opportunities this new reality offers.
Three COVID-related challenges that Sunway University Business School is transforming into opportunities include hybrid education, remote work, and reinventing the learning experience.
Hybrid Education. Even after the pandemic wanes, educational systems will likely continue to rely more on hybrid delivery modes for their programs, combining online and in-person delivery of course content. While the transition to online delivery was occurring before COVID, the recent pandemic accelerated its adaptation and it will persist moving forward due to its efficacy.
As with online courses, academic staff teaching hybrid courses post video lectures that students can watch multiple times at their convenience. Additionally, in both hybrid and online courses, lecturers can easily incorporate timely and interesting internet- based content from discipline experts and relevant news sources. However, unlike online- only classes, hybrid delivery still preserves the opportunities for in-person lecturer-student and student-student interactions. While students at Sunway University Business School continue to express a strong desire for an immersive F2F campus experience, they also indicate an overwhelming preference for hybrid delivery which allows them the option, on a daily basis, of whether, and the extent to which, they want an online or an in-person educational experience, or a combination of both.
Remote Work. According to Gad Levanon of Forbes magazine, the biggest impact of Covid-19 may be on remote work with about five percent of full-time employees working from home pre-pandemic and roughly 20-30 percent working remotely in the new normal. At Sunway University Business School, we have implemented a number of strategies to better prepare students to adapt to the way a large segment of the workforce will work from off site in the future. Since many companies were unable to host physical internships during lockdown, the business school adapted by offering virtual internships to allow students to gain industry experience even though they were unable to travel to their host companies. Even after strict movement control was relaxed, we found that a significant number of both employers and students prefer at least some component of remote work to allow students to complete parts of their assigned internships online.
To meet this increasing need, the business school launched targeted workshops highlighting the “Do`s and Don`ts” of working from home and the impact of remote employment on work etiquette, work attitudes, workplace communication, and so on. Along with Sunway University’s Student Life, the business school has provided one-on-one consultation to students through multiple formats on developing remote working skills. To further support student development, Sunway University has launched a new Sun-U Career Portal for all students as a one-stop career service center which offers access to explore internship opportunities, including online placement, and allows students to access other functions related to remote career development utilizing job placement services like JobStreet and Hiredly (formerly WOBB).
Additionally, Sunway University Business School has tapped our vast and active alumni network to have Sunway graduates deliver a variety of virtual events for business students targeted specifically to the development of their work-from-home skills such as resume writing, interviewing skills, job search techniques, employment networking skills, and more.
Reinventing the Learning Experience. When it comes to curriculum design, Sunway University Business School is experiencing a shift toward dividing programs into credentialed micro-learning segments and combining elements of curricular delivery to provide a unique experience for each student. With micro-credentials, learners are be able to “plug and play” from a menu of options to address their educational needs, and employers can encourage their workers to access these credentialed micro-learning segments, enabling a continuous retraining and upskilling of the workforce. This greater flexibility allowing learners to develop work skills as needed is attractive to current students as well as working professionals and lets individuals build upon completed micro-credentials and combine various finished segments as they further advance toward degree completion.
In repackaging curriculum content, Sunway University has introduced “Sunway Plus” for all degree programs to develop graduate attributes and enhance changing career opportunities. Examples of Sunway Plus include Global Plus, where programs like Accounting and Finance, Business Management, Business Studies, and Marketing offer at least one semester abroad through one or more international student mobility agreements, and Profession Plus where all business programs offer the additional value of professional body accreditation (e.g., Chartered Management Institute, Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Financial Analyst, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, etc.) as well as maximum exemptions from all recognized accounting professional bodies.
The COVID crisis presented not only moments of challenge for higher education but also moments of opportunity. While the challenges we face are daunting, fortunately quality business schools like Sunway University Business School are able to rise to the occasion and provide insight, guidance, and innovative approaches to not only cope but to succeed in the post-pandemic era.
Professor Steve Williams
Dean, Sunway University Business School
Email: [email protected]