Executive education refers to academic programmes at graduate-level business schools for executives and business leaders, which are designed to help them adapt to changes driven by economic uncertainty and advances in technology. By completing these courses, executives can demonstrate their commitment to learning, acquiring new skills and building leadership qualities, all of which are highly sought after by companies seeking to inject new blood and expertise into their business.

A booming market

Since COVID-19 – like many other sectors – executive education programmes have had to pivot and rethink their course delivery. By harnessing the available technology, they have been able to build remote solutions that make executive education programmes more accessible than ever before, without compromising on the value and quality of courses. Consequently, despite the challenges faced by the sector in the early stages of the pandemic, the industry has held firm and even showed signs of growth.

But what does this boom in the market mean for HR departments, employers and recruiters? What opportunities are there to now diversify workforces? Will it open up previously unclosed doors? Or does it open up new security challenges? This blog will try its best to tackle these questions and open up the floor to debate.

A chance to reskill and upskill employees

Even before the current crisis, CEOs had been banging the drum for some time that one of their biggest concerns relates to the availability of skills within their organisation, whether digital skills, data skills or human skills.

However, the last year has seen the world go through a revolution in technology that will still be here, if not accelerated, once the current crisis subsides. This is leading to increasing disparity, disrupting jobs and businesses, but also resulting in a surging demand for upskilling and reskilling key staff to ensure they have the digital skills they need to future-proof businesses for a more digitised world after the pandemic.

As rapid change has unfurled over the last decade, training and education programmes have struggled to keep pace with the demand for new digital skillsets that can equip businesses and organisations for the future. However, with digital executive education solutions now making courses more accessible than ever before, we are now seeing a democratisation of learning, with knowledge reaching more people in more ways, from apps and video conferencing tools to virtual tutoring and online learning software.

For executives, this more engaging, agile, accessible and collaborative learning environment means that there is more opportunity for them to develop new knowledge, skills and attitudes to apply to their organisation’s services or set themselves apart when applying for new roles. For businesses, there has never been a greater opportunity to reskill and upskill their employees, future-proofing their business and ensure they are prepared for the post-pandemic, more digitised world.

Opening the door to CV fraud?

Although the rise in distance and online learning has opened previously closed doors for employers, the trade-off is that it creates space for scammers and fraudsters to thrive. This could be in the form of fraudulent ‘diploma mills’ – unregulated institutions of higher education granting degrees with few or no academic requirements.

While much of the onus will be on institutions offering courses online to consider how they verify their student’s identities and previous education, employers must also be mindful of the risks this poses to their business. For example, imagine if a fraudulent applicant gets into your recruitment pipeline – not only will you not have the talent you need to plug vital skills gaps, but you also leave yourself open to further costs through needing to rehire and onboard, as well as potential reputational damage.

This risk is set to be heightened in the current job market, which is now more saturated than ever. As positions get fewer and far between and the competition rises, job seekers are more likely to look at ways – both honest and, unfortunately, dishonest – they can differentiate themselves and get to the top of the pile.

Organisations hiring, particularly from overseas, and within high-risk industries, more often than not require proof of credentials and ID verification. Having executive education students pre-verified before enrolling in their higher-level courses avoids fraudulent applicants getting into a company’s recruitment pipeline. For companies, sourcing employees from a pre-verified talent pool will ensure a skilled workforce and a competitive edge.

Securing the future of your business

The democratisation of learning that is currently thriving as a result of digital executive education solutions presents employers with the opportunity to inject more innovation and diversity of thought into their businesses. Although much of this virtual learning was established to provide continuity during a prolonged period of disruption, taking advantage of this booming market can ensure continuity for organisations in the long run.

While this is obviously a huge positive for businesses, they need to be cautious. We all know the damage that can be done through hiring an employee with a fraudulent CV, and the increased accessibility and popularity of executive education courses heightens the risk being posed to employers.