Educating Leaders: Matching skill requirements in online vacancies with skills offered in education – By Thomas Laanstra

Educating Leaders: Matching skill requirements in online vacancies with skills offered in education – By Thomas Laanstra

Textkernel is pleased to share with you an executive summary of the work of Thomas Laanstra, an UvA student that was analyzing whether the skills demanded by leadership roles aligned with the leadership courses offered by academic institutions.

Online vacancy platforms have become an essential resource for both people seeking a new job and companies that are looking for new employees. However, the skills in demand are constantly changing and evolving, and as a result, the skills required of managers are continually evolving as well.  Consequently, universities have to continuously analyze the job market to understand which skills are missing and react to these changes in demand. Therefore the skills in demand in leadership positions might not be aligned with the skills offered by leadership and management education, which is the central question of this research. 

To answer the research question, this study analyzed the skills of 9683 leadership and management positions that were identified by Textkernel’s Jobfeed platform. These positions include project managers, team leaders, managers, and more, and all required at least a bachelor’s degree.  Furthermore, 4341 courses of the business departments of the University of Amsterdam were analyzed to identify which skills are offered in leadership and management education. Textkernel’s Skills API was used to extract the skills that are mentioned in the text of these course descriptions. 

After identifying the skills in demand in the labor market, and the skills that are offered by leadership education, the extracted skills were categorized. Each of the skills was manually categorized as either a cognitive skill, interpersonal skill, business skill, or strategic skill, following the leadership skill requirement framework as established by Mumford et al. Subsequently, the number of occurrences of each skill was determined to allow for the comparison of their importance between the vacancies and course descriptions. 

This study has found a misalignment between the skills taught in leadership education and the skills demanded in the vacancies of leadership and management positions. Particularly, there is a much greater emphasis on interpersonal skills in online vacancies than in the course descriptions, indicating a  lack of interpersonal skill development in leadership education. Furthermore, there is a very high demand for communication skills in the vacancies of leadership positions, while communication skills are not so prevalent in the analyzed course descriptions. Moreover, there is a greater demand for analytical skills,  collaboration skills, and strategic thinking in the labor market of leadership positions than is being offered by leadership education. Contrary, in leadership education, there is a disproportionate focus on developing research skills, statistics, and entrepreneurship while these skills are not in demand in the same proportion in the labor market. Based on these findings, this study concludes that the skills offered by leadership education do not match the skills that are in demand in the labor market. Therefore,  leadership education and business schools may need to adapt their curricula, for which the results of this study can provide guidance. 

Besides my recommendation to update the curricula of leadership education, this study also has implications for educational institutions, staffing and recruitment organizations, and government bodies.  First, universities and other educational institutions can follow the methodology of this study to identify which skills are in demand using Textkernel’s Jobfeed platform and if their curricula match this demand by analyzing their course descriptions with Textkernel’s Skills API. Additionally, by utilizing this methodology, universities can respond promptly to the rapid changes in the labor market, ensuring that their curricula remain up-to-date to reduce the skill imbalance in the labor market. 

Second, following the approach of this research, staffing and recruitment organizations can use  Textkernel’s Jobfeed platform to identify the skills in demand on the labor market or within specific industries and follow the changes and trends over time. This may help them to easier match employers with job-seekers and help them in the hiring process. Furthermore, by analyzing the skills in demand, job 

seekers can identify development opportunities to improve their chances of finding a job by meeting the labor market’s demand. 

Lastly, government bodies can follow the methodology of this study to identify changes and trends in the labor market, which can guide their policy-making and government interventions to reduce inequality in the labor market. 

To conclude, this study has found a misalignment between the skills in demand in leadership positions and the skills offered by leadership education. Moreover, this research has displayed how  Textkernel’s Jobfeed platform can help in identifying skills in demand on the labor market and how  Textkernel’s Skills API can be used to extract skills from text, which can provide guidance for future studies by governments, educational institutions, recruitment agencies, and individuals.

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