15 Jan 2021 23:47 IST

Execs burnish skills for ‘new era’

Pandemic-induced job insecurity is driving demand for B-school courses

Job losses and pay cuts amid the Covid-19 pandemic notwithstanding, B-schools are witnessing a steady demand for executive education (EE) programmes from working professionals. The specialised MBA programmes include digital management, which is the flavour of the season.

Manju Jaiswall, Chairperson, IIM Calcutta, says applications for EE programmes have grown in recent years. “We are constantly aligning our curriculum to the changing career requirements for middle- and senior-level professionals as well as for top management roles,” Jaiswall says over e-mail.

Applications have doubled for IIM Kozhikode’s two-year executive postgraduate programme (EPGP) and the intake has increased by nearly 40 per cent. Shantanu Rooj, Founder and CEO, Schoolguru Eduserve, a TeamLease group company, says rather than reducing demand, the pandemic has pushed people to upgrade skills for job security.

Impact of pay cuts

Prof Raju C, Dean (EE), IIMK, says that other than a few requests for delayed fee payment, there has been no impact from pay cuts or job losses on EE programmes.

A spokesperson at IIM Ahmedabad says some corporates have adopted a wait-and-watch approach for training plans, but self-sponsored participants have been growing in number. Some corporates are facilitating employees to attend online programmes, usually at personal expense.

Online classes find flavour

Industry experts point out that the availability of courses online has made it easier for working professionals to manage work and studies simultaneously. IIM Sambalpur, which offers customised executive programmes for public sector units such as IOCL and Coal India, has seen a bigger demand this year as compared with previous years.

“Everything is online, so they are finding it easier to attend. The budget is already there, and for most PSUs there is no cut on training,” says Prof Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director, IIM Sambalpur.

The institute has a full-time EE programme, which is running at full capacity (180) and has a waiting list of around 500, says Jaiswal. It plans to launch a part-time programme for working executives by February-March this year.

“Our focus will be on digital transformation and people management in the new era,” he said. Institutes are involving industry experts to make their courses more contemporary and contextual, says Schoolguru’s Rooj.

“Institutes are also open to customising programmes for specific industries. If you see pre Covid, the MBA programmes taken up were usually marketing, finance, HR or operations; but now, these are least sought after. People are looking for specialisations such as MBA with cybersecurity, digital management and so on,” he points out.

Industry experts further feel that the steady increase in demand for executive education is a sustainable trend, given the constant need for reskilling and upskilling.