/ 30 May 2024

Preparing for tomorrow’s world of work 


MBA skills in high demand, especially analytical thinking

For those pursuing or considering an MBA, new research from the World Economic Forum (WEF) highlights the in-demand skills that professionals and business schools should prioritise.  The Future of Jobs 2023 report found that analytical thinking, creative thinking and technology skills like AI and big data will be among the most coveted capabilities in the job market by 2027.

According to Managing Director at the WEF, Saadia Zahidi, it is “the traits that make us human, make us able to relate with each other and to get innovative, creative things done” that drive results and have become paramount in the workplace. “There’s more of a focus and interest in having people with analytical thinking, creativity, leadership ability and the capacity to influence others socially,” Zahidi explains. 

Cognitive skills top the list 

The report’s data shows analytical thinking currently accounts for 9.1% of the core skill sets at companies, ranking it as the single most important skill in 2023 across industries. However, creative thinking is projected to see even faster growth in demand, with businesses forecasting a 73% increase in hiring for roles requiring creative intelligence over the next five years. 

Technology skills were next on the list, followed by areas of self-efficacy skills — resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; and curiosity and lifelong learning — which recognise the importance of workers’ ability to adapt to disrupted workplaces.

For MBA programmes aiming to prepare future business leaders, the WEF’s findings emphasise the continued importance of quantitative analysis and problem-solving coursework. But they also point to a need for enhanced training around innovative thinking, idea generation, and creativity applied to business strategy and operations.

Tech skills in demand, but balance is key 

With AI disrupting workforces globally, nearly half (44%) of all core business skills are expected to be impacted by technological shifts in the next few years. As a result, 42% of companies surveyed are making AI and big data analytics a key training priority for upskilling employees. 

Business schools globally are taking note, updating MBA concentrations and designing new courses to cover areas like digital transformation, data-driven decision-making, cybersecurity and human-centred innovation. Top programmes are already evolving to ensure their talent pipelines are aligned with the World Economic Forum’s vision for the future workforce.

Upskilling workers in leadership is reported to be a particular priority in the automotive and aerospace and infrastructure industries. It’s also the number one priority in the supply chain and transportation and advanced manufacturing industries.

Lifelong learning journey 

For current and prospective MBA students, investing in multidisciplinary learning that combines quantitative abilities, original thinking, and technological fluency will likely pay significant dividends as employability requirements continue shifting over the decade ahead.

The future of work is being shaped by the complementary forces of automation and innovation. MBA curricula need to stay ahead of the curve in equipping graduates with relevant tech skills and machine learning fundamentals. By cultivating uniquely human skills that balance analytical and creative thinking alongside emerging technologies, business education can develop agile yet grounded leaders.