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The Rise of Soft Skills In The MBA

Soft skills are the new cornerstones of business education.

At least, that’s what experts say universities and colleges are emphasizing in the new job market, according to a report by CBC.

“The goal of a university education is to teach people how to deal with uncertainty, how to be a critical thinker, how to be okay when things are changing,” Darren Dahl, a senior associate dean at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, tells CBC. “”The notion of going to work for the big corporation, and the jobs that we traditionally do, are evolving and changing.”

The Rise of Soft Skills

Soft skills, according to Top MBA, are “personally-developed attributes that are usually picked up through life and work experiences.”

Common examples of soft skills include interpersonal skills, leadership, teamwork, and problem solving—to name a few.

In recent years, companies have placed heavy emphasis on soft skills for MBA grads.

According to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey Report, soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, are the most in-demand skills for MBA grads. 

A Changed Approach

Many colleges and universities are changing their approach to embrace soft skills and creativity.

At UBC, the MBA program now includes a required course in creativity, according to CBC.

Dahl, the senior associate dean at UBC’s Sauder, says creativity has seen greater emphasis in recent years. 

“Creativity is a muscle. If you stopped exercising it years ago — some people say you’re the most creative when you’re five or six years old and then it’s just downhill — how do we strengthen that muscle for you as a leader, whether you work in corporate or a non-profit or your own entrepreneurial venture? That’s a fundamental tool in the toolbox, and I think society has just woken up to that in the last five years,” Dahl tells CBC.

At UBC, courses are now taught differently. Rather than having a classic lecture, professors are now implementing more action and applied learning.

At Ivey Business School in London, Ontario, the school is trying to push for graduates to run their own businesses.

“We provide a lot of support post graduation for those who want to come back at a later time to start a venture two, three or four years later,” Mark Vandenbosch, acting dean at Ivey Business School, tells CBC.

Joe Musicco, a professor at Sheridan College’s Pilon School of Business in Toronto, says the increased emphasis on creativity may be attributed to a number of reasons.

“You could point to things like technology and AI [Artificial Intelligence]. You could point to things like the changing nature of work and being more of a thinker and a consultant, and expectations of people in general that [graduates] are going to be able to bring innovation and creative problem-solving skills to the table,” Musicco tells CBC.

Sources: CBC, Top MBA, GMAC 

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