A trend towards building work-life oriented MBA at Finnish UASs
Anzelika Krastina made a research about Finnish MBA programmes as a part of her studies in Master studies in Lapland UAS.
The aim of MBA study programmes at the Universities of Applied Sciences (UASs) in Finland is to prepare its graduates for the world of work. The rapidly changing work environment poses new challenges for MBA programmes as the demand for skills by employers is changing. It is important to ensure that MBA graduates are well equipped with required skill to face the challenges of rapidly changing business environment. How is the world of work changing? What are the skills required from future leaders of the companies? How can UASs in Finland adopt their MBA programmes to meet the demands of working life and businesses? These are core questions that the research was aiming to answer.
A study conducted among four UASs in Finland showed that there is a common trend towards building a work-life oriented MBA. It is apparent, however, that there are many administrative obstacles to adapt faster MBA programmes to meet the skills demands of rapidly changing work environments, as indicated in the results of seven semi-structured interviews with the participants of Finnish UASs.
Many changes are accelerated by digital transformation, globalization, demographic change, geopolitical turmoil, and Covid-19. Business leaders must cope with the uncertainty and have the agility to deal with the new normal. The skills that employers require from MBA graduates are a mix of generic and transversal skills, employability skills, soft skills and future skills. Ethics, honesty, empathy, and openness should guide the development of new types of leadership. Furthermore, so-called hard skills, such as understanding core business operations, remain essential.
Across countries, MBA programmes are criticized for focusing too little or not enough on generic skills and soft skills. Research results indicate that the following skills seem well considered in Finnish MBA education: generic skills including problem-solving, interpersonal skills related to teamwork, collaboration, and communication, risk management, and design thinking. In contrast to critical views in the literature regarding a lack of training of these skills, Finnish UAS have taken their importance into account, but could also improve on training, for instance in leadership.
The students of Finnish UASs need to develop global perspectives, learn new type of leadership skills in line with the fast-changing work environment; develop agility and resilience skills and build a passion for lifelong learning in addition to many other relevant working life skills. Development of MBA programmes should become more agile and more specialized addressing emerging skills´ requirements. Finnish UASs are well positioned to establish high level education standards, to further strengthen practice-oriented education, and to build an internationally recognized brand of work-life oriented MBA programmes.