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Make the right study choice and boost your career opportunities

HR & Organizational Development

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Choosing what to study is never easy. It’s a big decision and, with your future in mind, you need to take the current labor market situation into account. Right now, about 104,000 Flemish students are studying subjects that are unlikely to lead to jobs. You make your very first study choice in secondary school. ASO, TSO, BSO What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? What can I manage? Recent studies suggest these are legitimate questions. Ans De Vos and Peggy De Prins, Professors and researchers at Antwerp Management School, take a look at the prospects.

The "school-leavers report" by VDAB measures which study programs produce alumni who are doing well in the labor market today, and which do not. In the long term, there has been little change for years in which programs do well. However, there are some striking differences: Some programs don’t have any alumni out of work at all, while for others, about a quarter of their alumni are unemployed. Statistics from Deloitte are alarming as well: for 22,000 undergraduate students and 12,000 graduate students, their degree has led them straight to the National Employment Office or the Public Centre for Social Welfare. 

A career as welfare recipient, or not?

There are many more higher education programs available than in the past, and this makes it difficult to obtain concrete, objective information about job security. The VDAB report, however, lists all the important statistics. The professional bachelor program seems to be the best-performing level of study, with the most alumni in employment after one year; within this category, health care programs and Industrial Sciences lead the pack. However, those with masters’ degrees are best suited the labor market, with the biggest success stories being those with masters’ in Industrial Sciences, Engineering Sciences and Applied Economics.

The main reason for the high number of unemployed alumni is increasing digitalization and automation in the workplace. Deloitte’s statistics show that about 49% of students in technical and vocational education, 19% of college students and 10% of university students are currently studying a subject that computers will be able to take over in a couple of years. Administrative and service programs, in particular, will disappear or change in content within the next five years.

"If your father is a bookkeeper and you want to follow in his footsteps, you cannot assume that you will be doing the same job in the future as he is right now.”

However, this does not mean that all jobs will be automated. “Our jobs, as such, do not disappear immediately or in great number, but our responsibilities and the division of tasks are continuously subject to change,” says Peggy . “It is much more of a qualitative impact than a quantitative impact.” Moreover, a computer does not have a problem-solving attitude and is not emotionally intelligent. This is why a complementary education that combines the interactive with the humane is the smart option.

Competencies of the future

Students enrolled in a Business Management bachelor program or other middle-ranking programs are most likely to be replaced by a computer in the future. “Indeed, it is not a good idea to study accountancy or law, thinking that you will practice the job in the same way your parents did,” says Ans. “Most of the work in those sectors can be automated. It is impossible to predict, but one thing is certain: If your father is a bookkeeper and you want to follow in his footsteps, you cannot assume that you will be doing the same job in the future as he is right now.” Because programs are not optimally adapted to the labor market, it is likely that the subject matter that teenagers are studying right now will be out of date by the time they reach the labor market.

“If tutors teach you subjects without taking society’s evolutions into account, you will have to look for a job with outdated knowledge.”

Ans: “If tutors teach you subjects without taking society’s evolutions into account, you will have to look for a job with outdated knowledge.” Hence, optimization is strength. “We expect the expiration date of qualifications and competencies to get even shorter,” Peggy continues. “The employee of the future will no longer stop learning at the age of 20, but will engage with his talent, knowledge and competencies throughout his whole career.” This means that people’s educational level will need to go up and that they will have to adapt again and again. Because technology is evolving rapidly, more people will have to keep studying for the rest of their lives. This is why education must be focused on developing students’ skills and on learning how to learn.

The jobs that disappear will be replaced by completely new jobs requiring higher-level knowledge and skills. “Furthermore, managers, HR and employees always try to enhance jobs that allow employees to operate according to their competencies and preferences, but at the same time they also try to keep those jobs aligned with the expected structural change,” says Peggy. Therefore, you will have to remain engaged with your own employability. Says Ans: “Whoever keeps doing what they have always done, will either never discover their other talents, or will discover them too late. You only start learning things when you are out of your comfort zone.” 

Management education

The need for highly educated professionals is increasing, but when choosing what to study, it is important to verify which skills you are going to develop. It is now more important than ever that you develop your social skills, refine your empathy and reason logically. Today, management assistants are required to have a bachelor’s degree, to be self-sufficient and to speak multiple languages. Furthermore, it is important to compare programs and institutions with each other. Some universities are recognized for the excellence of specific programs, which means their alumni find jobs faster than other students.

“The employee of the future will no longer stop learning at the age of 20, but will engage with his talent, knowledge and competencies throughout his whole career.”

This all underscores the importance of business schools. AMS offers young professionals and experienced executives complementary master programs. Employers look for talented, self-aware, professional and mature young graduates. In the Leadership & Career Development Track in our masters’ for recent graduates, you will embark on an intensive and personal development plan. Students explore who they are, what they are capable of and what they want. AMS motivates them to leave their comfort zone by making them work closely with fellow students in an international, highly demanding setting and by networking with enterprises. Programs are important for experienced executives as well, because even “employees should let go of their certainties and grasp opportunities to develop further and to retrain,” says Peggy.

Moreover, AMS’s full-time management masters’ score highly in terms of job opportunities. They came 10th out of 95 schools in the career section of the Financial Times Masters in Management rankings. This is because AMS alumni work at a relatively high level, in large enterprises and multinationals. What’s more, 100% of the 2016 alumni found a job within three months. These annual FT Master in Management Ranking offer a thorough assessment of the world’s best master programs (full-time masters’ for recent graduates with little to no work experience) in general management. The rankings are based on data provided by the participating schools and their alumni.

Discover our programs for recent graduates!
Sources
http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20170928_03100300  http://www.jobat.be/nl/artikels/mark-met-welke-studiekeuze-ben-je-jobzeker/# http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20150821_01827723  http://www.humo.be/humo-archief/381901/de-shitlist-welke-diplomas-leiden-recht-naar-een-werkloosheidsuitkering

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