The 2024 Outlook: How Executive Education Will Change

The 2024 Outlook: How Executive Education Will Change

Business schools anticipate the demand for executive education courses growing strongly in 2024

The executive education landscape is on the brink of significant evolution. The year 2024 promises shifts that will redefine how leaders engage with education to navigate an ever-changing business environment.

From the integration of cutting-edge technologies to the reimagining of curriculum structures, the forthcoming changes are poised to reshape the way executives learn, adapt and lead in an era defined by innovation and uncertainty.

Across the globe, business schools also anticipate the demand for executive education courses growing strongly in 2024, coming from both individuals (open enrolment) and organizations (custom).

“Demand for executive education is continuing to grow as we move forward from the post-pandemic recovery,” says Trisha Fountain, Managing Director of Open Enrolment and Digital Programs at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

“Based on current conversations with executives in our programs, I expect both individuals and organizations will continue to seek training and development in both soft and hard skills,” she says. “Soft skill development is likely to be centered on empathic leadership and the cultivation of resilient workforces. Technical skills will focus on the advancement of generative AI in organizations and the use of AI in strategic planning and decision-making.”

Furthermore, the changing dynamics of the business environment are set to influence the skills and knowledge areas that will be in high demand through executive education programs in 2024.

“The changing dynamics of the business environment will heavily influence the content of executive education courses,” says Fountain. “Topics of interest will likely include navigating internal and external cultures in mergers and acquisitions, skillfully leveraging AI in business processes and decision-making, and developing sustainable business practices in the era of ESG [environmental, social and governance]. Ultimately, navigating organizational and environmental changes will be a skill to master in and of itself.”

The data and AI revolution

This is a sentiment echoed by Cecile Arragon, the Executive Director of Business Development for HEC Paris’s Executive Education department in France. “The data and AI revolution and the sustainability challenge are the two key topics that drive both the individual and corporate executive education demand in terms of re-skilling and knowledge development,” she says.

“More generally, C-level executives who are involved in a fast changing and volatile environment expect executive education programs to offer a safe harbor to step back, think, network and plan ahead,” she says. “They highly value the interactions with researchers who share science-based insights that can guide fact-based decision making and strategies.”

Moreover, she says HEC anticipates strong demand for executive education courses in 2024, “as the dynamics of the business environment call for changes in strategy and transformations at the organizational level, and new skills and behaviors at the individual level”.

Karis Burton, Head of Corporate Development at Henley Business School in the UK, also notes robust continuing demand for executive education. “From the perspective of individual professionals, there is a growing demand for courses that are designed to help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the digital age,” Burton says.

“This includes learning that focuses on creating the conditions through leadership for others to succeed in this technology-fueled world,” Burton says. “Individuals are also becoming increasingly interested in courses that are flexible, and can be taken online or on-demand. This is due to the fact that many professionals are now juggling multiple commitments, such as work, family and personal goals in a post-Covid world.”

She says that for many organizations, the focus is on helping their employees develop the skills they need to work in a changing world. “We are seeing a real spike in demand for more strategic programs around workforce planning from a human resources or organizational development perspective,” adds Burton.

Innovation in delivery of learning 

To meet this growing demand, business schools are expected to innovate in their delivery of executive education to cater to the diverse learning preferences and needs of professionals in the year ahead.

“As the world has become more adept at hybrid work contexts, business schools are increasingly called to deliver learning experiences that meet the current needs of in-demand executives,” says Michigan Ross’s Fountain. “There is a paradox in that executives report better peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities from in-person programs, but busy schedules require the flexibility of delivery modalities that include asynchronous and synchronous online delivery of content as well.”

She says that schools that find a way to seamlessly marry these two experiences into comprehensive learning journeys will likely have the most success in meeting the needs and preferences of today’s executive learners.

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Related Business Schools

Michigan - Ross

HEC Paris

Henley

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