The India Skills Report survey 2021
reported that the employability for MBAs was 46.82% in 2021. In contrast the BA has an employability of 42.72%. This raises a fundamental question. Why do people pursue an MBA program?
Why do you join an MBA?
We think that one of the major reasons for pursuing an MBA program to become employable. The MBA is a post graduate program. By then students have a good idea of their undergraduate subject of study. They are also aware of what their friends are planning to do and why. It is very likely that they have developed thoughts about what they should do or perhaps more importantly what they should not do.
Are MBA schools worried about placements? Yes, most of them are. The way they go about is often the root cause of the issue. One finds many MBA programs where employability is seen as a job to be done a ‘finishing’ school. An example of this would be a 25 hours program with CV/Group Discussion/ Personal Interview and some general awareness built in. Many MBA schools in India take this approach. There are even more who would find it challenging to invest even in such finishing school approaches.
Root Cause for the Challenge
How should a good MBA program tackle this challenge? As they taught us at IIT, if there is a serious problem which you are not able to go ‘crack’ despite repeated efforts, then get back to the ‘fundas’. In corporate lingo it is called root cause analysis. The fact is that employability of MBAs in India has not changed much from the 43.99% in 2015 only highlights the failure in tackling a serious problem. My experience with MBA programs is that there are three primary reasons and all have to do with design- the design of outcomes and methods.
The first reason for this gap is in the aims/outcomes of the program. Is employability one of the program outcomes? Many institutions don’t have one. Those which are seeking accreditation realize the need to have one. Planning of program outcomes should not be driven by merely by accreditation needs. They need to understand what the program achieves and how it fits into the institutions vision, mission, objectives and values. Every program should answer the question- whom are we serving and what is the value we offer? It then serves a set of students and stakeholders in society differently from another program. This must then be reviewed for achievement of sustainable growth and evolution of the institution
The second reason is in lack of design in building in outcome orientation at module/unit/ course/ semester and year levels which lead you to the program outcomes. Every MBA program includes a set of courses and curricula. A course curricula consists of modules and units. The overall course outcome needs to be articulated- for instance what is the outcome expected from the course on Business Environment and how do the modules and units support this outcome.
The third reason is that the methods used to meet outcomes in the teaching- learning and assessment process do not serve the purpose of the outcome. Some of the methods include content, pedagogy, types of assessment, faculty, industry interface and student services. For instance developing creativity and innovation capability in the student requires that the content has sufficient application material and the pedagogy encourages students to search/ visit/ observe, cite and connect relevant application. Concept centeredness is necessary but not sufficient.
The ICFAI Approach
In the post COVID phase of management education, online education is being pursued not only by students but by organizations as well. The fully Online MBA offered by the ICFAI Foundation of Higher Education, popularly referred to as ICFAI Hyderabad, leverages the power of technology in multiple ways to increase student centricity through eLearning. It has well designed and aligned program outcomes, course outcomes as well as module level outcomes. The eLearning methods are envisaged for flexible learning, concept- context content and connect and focus on employability as a learning outcome.
You may examine the Online MBA program details at https://online.ifheindia.org/ for yourself.
Feel free to post your queries and suggestions.
Prof. R Prasad
Professor and Course Mentor for the Online MBA