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Business school students fear digital skills gap

The digital age of Industry 4.0 is a cause for concern for business school students about to enter the job market, according to a recent survey by Highered, EFMD’s careers platform.

One in three business school students surveyed believe they lack the digital skills now required for jobs in Industry 4.0.

90% of these students believe that technical skills such as data analysis and search engine marketing are now considered “entry-level” requirements, which they feel underprepared for.


What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, defines the new wave of technological advancements and digital tools, including the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning, that are impacting on businesses and organizations in the 21st century.

These ever-changing technological tools are changing business processes and leaving some students feeling unprepared to enter the business world after graduation, the new Highered survey reveals.

In the survey of 1,060 business school students, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, from around the world, Highered asked if students felt ready to enter this technologically advanced job market and how their training provider supported them.


Why don’t students feel prepared?

Survey results showed that business school students believed their knowledge gaps were in analyzing and interpreting data (15%) and understanding new and emerging technologies (13%) .

86% of job seekers believed that a degree alone would not provide the foundation needed to launch a career in their chosen industry.

“If we want to help students find jobs in the new digital economy, they need career development and training tailored to employers’ requirements, but also personalized to their skill level,” says Amber Wigmore Alvarez, Director of Talent at Highered.

When respondents were asked how universities and business schools could better prepare students for careers in Industry 4.0, the majority (65%) suggested integrating job skills into business curricula. studies, closely followed by internship opportunities (57%) and consultancy projects (55%).

“Partnerships between universities, business schools and employers will be essential,” says Amber.


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What are business schools doing to prepare students for Industry 4.0?

Despite the survey results, many MBA and Master of Commerce programs focus on developing students’ digital skills and technological aptitude.

MBA graduate Johana Ossma, who completed an MBA internship in Industry 4.0 while at POLIMI Graduate School of Management in Italy, said her business degree helped her develop key skills such as communication in an international environment and with different stakeholders. These are skills that will be crucial in helping companies implement new technological processes, she believes.

Some business schools even offer programs specifically related to Industry 4.0, such as EU Business School’s MBA in Blockchain Management. For graduate Intan Puspitasari, this program helped her embark on an MBA in digital innovation.

EU Business School’s Honors MBA program provides students with an in-depth understanding of blockchain as an emerging technology, preparing students for a variety of careers in the future business sphere.

For Masters of Commerce students, WU Executive Academy in Vienna recently launched a Masters in the Metaverse, in partnership with EdTech firm Tomorrow’s Education.

During the program, students take courses in sustainability, entrepreneurship, and technology. Students study topics such as technological revolutions, the ethics and economics of AI, and data structures and algorithms. The master’s program also offers hands-on projects, which include creating a plan to implement AI within a company.

Despite the challenges presented by Industry 4.0, students are increasingly positive about their job prospects. Compared to recent years, the Highered survey shows that nearly half of students (49%) believed they were now more confident about getting a job.

Enrolling in an MBA or Masters of Business program that offers technology-focused courses can be the key to launching a career in a digitally transformed business world.

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