Post­grad­u­ate programs to boost ca­reer

Work­ers in their 30s and 40s seek­ing more se­nior roles are turn­ing to business school

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@ chi­

Mid­dle-aged work­ers look­ing for a ca­reer boost ac­count for al­most half of those in China ap­ply­ing for grad­u­ate man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion, a global sur­vey has found.

The vast ma­jor­ity of Chi­nese can­di­dates are aged 35 to 45, have reached mid­dle man­age­ment and want to take the next step up, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Grad­u­ate Man­age­ment Ad­mis­sion Coun­cil, an in­ter­na­tional non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion based in the United States, and mar­ket re­searcher Ip­sos.

This mo­ti­va­tion dif­fers from the over­all re­sult, in which the largest pro­por­tion of re­spon­dents, 27 per­cent, said they had pur­sued business school as a way to gain more re­spect from col­leagues.


Other rea­sons — to ex­plore the world, be rec­og­nized for their ex­per­tise, start their own business, take their ca­reer to the next level, im­prove their so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus or take a break from work — had a fairly equal share of about 12 per­cent.

The coun­cil, which said the sur­vey was the first to gauge the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind business school stu­dents, polled 6,000 peo­ple in 15 coun­tries who have sought to en­roll in grad­u­ate man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion programs in the past two years, in­clud­ing more than 1,400 on the Chi­nese main­land.

The sur­vey found that the typ­i­cal trig­ger for those want­ing to take their ca­reers to the next level and ap­ply for such an ed­u­ca­tion in China is that they want to ap­ply for a job, but lack the re­quired skills or de­gree, or they have an is­sue at work such as not get­ting pro­moted or re­ceiv­ing neg­a­tive per­for­mance re­views.

“They as­pire to have more con­trol of their ca­reer devel­op­ment and to be­come suc­cess­ful, but they think that to rise fur­ther, they may need a post­grad­u­ate man­age­ment de­gree, such as an MBA or master’s de­gree,” said Yolanda Kwok, re­gional head of business devel­op­ment for the coun­cil, which rep­re­sents 216 business schools across the world.

Pan Zheng, 29, who is in an MBA pro­gram at Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies Univer­sity, said most of his fel­low stu­dents are mid­dle-level work­ers in their com­pa­nies who want a com­pet­i­tive edge.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the younger gen­er­a­tion has a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion level, so those in their 30s and 40s have to make up for the de­fi­ciency if they want to climb the ca­reer lad­der,” he said.

“An­other rea­son that they pur­sue such ed­u­ca­tion is that it of­fers new knowl­edge of business man­age­ment, which they’ve never touched upon, de­spite gain­ing sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence in their pro­fes­sional fields.”

Li Yuanyuan, MBA di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing, ad­mis­sions and ca­reer ser­vices at China Europe In­ter­na­tional Business School, at­trib­uted the par­tic­u­lar­ity of Chi­nese grad­u­ate man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion seek­ers to the macro en­vi­ron­ment of the coun­try’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

“Though slow­ing down, China’s econ­omy still boasts plenty of emerg­ing in­dus­tries, with great job op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple. Usu­ally, the time be­tween grad­u­at­ing and reach­ing 40 years old is prime time for de­vel­op­ing one’s ca­reer,” Li said.

Zhou Hai­wang, deputy di­rec­tor of the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sci­ences’ In­sti­tute of Pop­u­la­tion and Devel­op­ment, said the par­tic­u­lar­ity is also be­cause col­lege ed­u­ca­tion in China is less po­si­tion-rel­e­vant.

“For ex­am­ple, in Sin­ga­pore, grad­u­ates from cer­tain univer­sity ma­jors will be em­ployed in cor­re­spond­ing man­age­ment po­si­tions in banks. But in China, col­lege grad­u­ates usu­ally start their ca­reers from the grass­roots level,” Zhou said.

Kwok an­tic­i­pates a sig­nif­i­cant growth in the num­ber of grad­u­ate man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion pur­suers who have en­tre­pre­neur­ial plans and need the skills to put their ideas into prac­tice.

“We’ll wit­ness the num­ber of such can­di­dates in­creas­ing within three to five years as the gov­ern­ment en­cour­ages en­trepreneur­ship,” she said.

of re­spon­dents said they had pur­sued business school as a way to gain more re­spect from col­leagues.

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