Interview with Dr Walaa Bakry, Director of Executive Education, Westminster Business School  

| What are the new and emerging workplace skills your students need to compete for employability in today’s market? 

‘Project Μanagement’ is often cited by employers as a desirable skill; as such, it offers students more opportunities to find the job they want. We’ve also seen a rise in the need for several other skills, particularly post-pandemic, such as the ability to work well in a hybrid environment.  

More recently, there’s been a growing need for graduates to be able to use data analytics tools and for greater awareness around AI. Leadership skills and emotional intelligence are also becoming increasingly important to prospective employers.  

| How do professional certifications (such as PRINCE2) complement Westminster’s academic courses and what specific gaps do they fill? 

We think professional qualifications in general give students an edge in the employment market. As well as helping to make them aware of the market’s expectations around their employability, obtaining a professional certification definitely makes a graduate’s CV stand out. Therefore, we incorporate professional certifications into the Business School’s curriculum whenever there’s an opportunity, such as including PRINCE2 as part of our MSc Project Management course.  

| In the past year, what has the demand for PRINCE2 been compared to previous years, and what other PeopleCert certifications has the university added to its offer? 

I haven’t seen the figures for the whole year yet but judging by the first quarter we’re seeing strong growth in demand for PRINCE2. In terms of our offerings, we’re also seeing a slight increase in demand for Managing Successful Programmes (MSP). This is possibly because those who have achieved PRINCE2 are now looking for the next step, and PRINCE2 feeds into MSP.  

| What examples do you have of students gaining employment/progressing careers by adding a PRINCE2 (or other PeopleCert) certification? 

We have evidence that students who achieve these qualifications tend to be employed – or at least shortlisted – immediately after graduation. We invite some of our alumni to events to meet new students and tell their own success story; explaining the importance of taking professional certifications while they’re studying for their course.  

| Overall, how significant a role does professional certification play in the university’s offer, and why is this important to both students and the institution? 

Westminster Business School has a policy of incorporating a variety of professional certifications into all of our courses wherever we can. We’re responding to the market’s expectations and we’re giving our students an edge by having something extra on their CV when they graduate.  

Sometimes we incorporate a particular certification into the curriculum because we think it’s important and that it’s something we think employers expect students to be aware of. Other times, it’s a useful add-on.  

In some instances, the overall curriculum for a course is accredited by a professional body, which adds credibility to the course. Employers are likely to be more interested in students that have graduated from courses which either offer them professional certification or that have been professionally accredited.