"Management education is in need of new and innovative teaching methods. It is not necessary for knowledge to develop only in classrooms. Higher education institutions need to encourage students and adjust their study programs to help them gain necessary skills in real life situations in the business world and in companies,” was the core outtake of a keynote speech by Dr. Alenka Braček Lalić, Vice Dean for Research, Co-Director of Executive MBA and CEEMAN IQA Director, who presented the key results of an extensive international research on management development needs Lead4Skills.
Fast changes and uncertainties affecting contemporary managers demand new business models and dictate a need for innovative, creative and flexible thinking. Prof. Sándor Takács from Corvinus University in Budapest explained that “digitalization is one of the key elements of the fourth industrial revolution. Technology is rapidly advancing and the business world is closely intertwined with it. Younger generations grow up with computers while older generations are familiarizing with these processes gradually. This is one of the challenges, technology is not and unsurpassable obstacle.” While Dr. Maja Makovec Brenčič, Minister of Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia emphasized that “education is continuous - lifelong. Children in kindergartens are already learning and retirees are learning as well. Everyone has a right to accessible and quality education.”
The conference also presented the results of the extensive Lead4Skills research encompassing 11 countries. The purpose was to present business challenges the companies are facing today and prepare guidelines for higher education institutions to help them better understand and address these challenges. “We made 2013 interviews with respondents from Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Estonia, South Africa and Russia. Experts responded to questions on the future of management and current priorities in the business world. The research has shown that companies in all participating countries strive to employ communicative, proactive and creative employees. Companies are looking for innovativeness, fresh approaches and new ideas. Companies are looking for staff that is striving for change,” Dr. Braček Lalić summed up.
Speakers also highlighted missing links between development needs and higher education institutions. “The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport has indeed well-defined project to encourage cooperation between the business world and the schools. But for change to really happen, initiative has to come from bottom up. Professors, HEIs, managers and employees all need motivation. This is a big challenge,” Dr. Alenka Braček Lalić concluded.
First day of the conference served as a base for further discussions and to address the needs of management development which the conference participants continued to do on the second day, where they had an opportunity to attend in-depth workshops and discussions on topics that were identified as crucial during the research. Participants participated in workshops on digitalization, intergenerational cooperation, organizational culture and resilience. To further expand the impact of the workshops, participants presented the workshop outcomes, taking full advantage of peer-to-peer learning methods. At the end, participants voted cooperation between HEIs and companies as the most important first step to make when addressing management development needs.
The Lead4Skills partnership is finalizing a cross-country report and recommendations for HEIs, which will be openly published by the end of summer.
Lead4Skills is an Eramus+ funded project connecting 8 partner institutions from 7 different European countries, with aim to provide higher education institutions (HEI) with a comprehensive set of insights, guidelines and materials that would help develop more relevant and innovative management education offerings and study processes, based on the real needs of businesses and economies and as a result stimulate reduction of management skills mismatch across EU and provide enterprises with better skilled employees, decreasing their investments in new employee trainings and increasing their competitiveness on local, regional and international levels.