Could you please tell us shortly, what is Lead4Skills project about?
The overall aim of the project is to provide higher education institutions (HEI) with a comprehensive set of insights, guidelines and materials that will help develop more relevant and innovative management education programmes and study processes, based on the real needs of businesses and economies. As a result, it will stimulate reduction of management skills mismatch across EU and provide enterprises with better skilled employees, decreasing their investments in new employee education and increasing their competitiveness on local, regional and international levels. Therefore, the main target groups of the project are higher education institutions and enterprises.
How did an idea to build a consortium of HEIs and apply for Erasmus+ funding came to be?
First of all, our objective was not simply to replicate the abundant research on management and leadership capability, but to engage practically with the evidence from the viewpoint of improvement and change in management and leadership education. Therefore, the catalyst for the start of Lead4Skills project was the growing consensus that some recalibration, and even possibly reinvention, was required in the design and delivery of management and leadership education.
A recent International Labour Organisation study “Skills mismatch in Europe study 2014”, shows that labour market in Europe demonstrates various types of skill mismatch, including mismatch between the number of job seekers and employment opportunities, which is reflected in unemployment. Labour market actors, especially education organisations, need to ensure that occupational requirements are matched through adequate education, providing labour market with need-based and real problem-based education. Empirical evidence shows that, in far too many cases, workers are not well matched to perform their jobs.
The emerging business issues, including those facing challenges of the modern world, create new managerial and leadership challenges for companies and the necessity to develop new skills and knowledge in order to effectively address them. In turn, this presents a challenge, but also an opportunity, for education providers to develop new, more relevant, educational offerings through updates in curriculum, upgrades of teaching and learning tools and materials, as well as development of relevant teaching skills, based on recognition of specific business challenges and the consequent management and leadership development needs in companies.
What are the trends and major challenges of management education and where do you think, the management education is heading to?
Management and leadership education is currently at a critical juncture. Business schools and the education sector operate in a more globalised, rapidly changing environment and need to respond to a number of key challenges. These challenges include the demand for enhanced management, leadership and collaboration skills as part of a broad approach to improving productivity performance, the need for deeper engagement and knowledge exchange between educational institutions, business and government and the pressure to build quality and relevance. All this while facing funding challenges, capacity and capability constraints, high dependency on international student fees and changing incentives for the higher education sector. To address this, we should specifically discuss foresight scenarios and strategic implications for stakeholders (Deans, faculty, students, prospective students, alumni, local businesses, corporations, government, and accreditation bodies).
What comes after Lead4Skills project has reached its “final destination” e.g. set goals?
The path to excellence is an ongoing journey. The moment we stop to bask in our achievements is the moment we stop learning and the moment we start falling behind. Always striving to offer the absolute best for our students and clients is the core principle of IEDC, Lead4Skills partners and other members of CEEMAN network.
But while working with people and institutions you know and can rely on is important, for sustainable development, it is essential to never stop looking for new partnerships, for it is the only way to enrich yourself, your partnership network and the broader society. We also need to keep in mind that becoming and remaining successful is not just about ticking boxes. You first need to work hard in order to remain at the top of your highly competitive field. You will only realise your goals if you understand what is necessary to succeed in our highly competitive environment.
Marge Sassi, EBS