An interesting challenge in developing skills for youth and creating a strong pipeline of talent is a seemingly lack of interest from the Industry itself. While the need for talent is primarily for the Industry, the state, equally, has a responsibility to provide sustainable livelihood to its citizens. Caught between these, are two other important stakeholders: education providers and students themselves. Education providers broadly comprise the private institutions and the more structured and regulated government/private promoted or run Universities. It has been long that many have blamed the universities, for issues like their inability to develop youth who are employable amongst many others. While many of these are indeed true, very little has been done by the Industry members themselves to fix or even address these challenges. This is mildly strange, given that you would want to believe that the Industry, who are recipients of this talent and take the maximum brunt of such gaps, would take a much more proactive approach to bridging this gap.
Take the case of curriculum development, the kernel of a good output and the foundation for an employable student. Very little has been done to align the PG/UG courses to Industry needs. The outcome is that Universities continue to teach what is irrelevant and deliver content which is outdated, leaving it to the Industry to spend money training students after recruitment, on very basic skills, just to make them productive. This adds to costs and makes the entire process inefficient.
Given that universities and formal educational institutions have limited access to the latest emerging technologies, a little support from corporates would benefit universities tremendously. This could be in the form of technical assistance in developing the curriculum, providing learning resources, helping conduct master training programs and assisting the universities in staying ahead of the curve. The students would benefit as well, since they would learn the latest and be assured that what they are learning hasn’t just been designed by academicians but by practitioners as well. This, in turn, would help them develop interest in the subject, making them more employable, and would eventually assist the corporates, by making students first day, first hour job ready. It would also address the key challenge of being future ready and away from being trained on obsolete technologies. This “hand holding” would assist in the overall capacity development and bring up capabilities across universities by several notches. Industry, thru this, would also demonstrate more ownership in the entire process of skill building and not just show up at the conclusion of the development life cycle for just hiring needs.
It is also unfair to completely blame the Industries for not doing enough about this. Universities, though operating within a highly rigid and regulated environment, have done little to influence policy makers to address this.
Another key area which has been long ignored is the development of faculty members. Current faculty members often lack industrial experience and bring just academic knowledge to the class. Not only does this make the class delivery uninteresting, it adds very little value to the students. In this age of social learning, students have access to multiple learning resources to develop foundational knowledge. They come to the class expecting to understand a practitioner’s view point of a subject and peer-learn from others. Unless the faculty today has practised what he teaches, it is impossible to hold a student's interest and engage them in this learning process. Industry can assist in this area as well, by conducting faculty development programs, sending subject market experts to interact with students and deliver guest lectures, providing worksite visits to faculty members and generally allowing faculty members to get a ring side view of the emerging developments.
The good thing is that new universities realise these gaps and are open to collaborating with experts in order to involve them in this process of co-development. This is a win-win for all, especially for students who can now embark on their education journey knowing that they are learning from the best experts in the field. Students today must find out these facts before enrolling for any course. They must check if the curriculum has been co-designed with Industry members and then join them This entire process of co-development is built on trust and with a mind-set of bringing multiple strengths to the table. Universities along with the Industry can indeed collaborate to bring the best for everyone.
Disclaimer: Ambarish Datta is the MD & CEO of BSE Institute Ltd. BSE Institute Ltd has recently collaborated with the youngest university in the eastern India – SNU University to announce a BSE Institute designed BBA in Financial Markets program. This is the first BBA Financial Markets program offered in the eastern region.