Best Practices to Bridge Industry Academia Gap


Best Practices to Bridge Industry Academia Gap

In the world of 7.7 billion, how much of the population is used effectively is a billion dollar question! Several countries are suffering from unemployment which is a grave concern.

It can attribute to lack of attention given to the economic growth, low investment, slow industrial growth and more. But are they the only factors to be held responsible for?

No, the unnoticed gap in between the academia-industry is root cause of all the problems.

Every year million of students complete their graduation and seek for a job opportunity in the industry. But all they land-up is to unemployment. The exceptional ones get ‘campus placement’ and it leads to demotivation, lack of confidence and death of inner creativity for others.

We need to understand, the Industry and academia are two distinct words operating on different pedestals. The Greek term Academia, refers to the greater body of knowledge, consisting of students, mentors and scholars. Industry is a workplace of producing goods and services contributing to economic growth of a nation.

They are based on different ideologies and purposes. However, are inter-related in attainment of success.

The graduates expect to get hired with no industry knowledge or experience and industries look for quality resources. This is where the issue pops-out. The job-readiness of graduates is near to nil. They may do excellent at the interviews but fail miserably during the practical work. They are more like a toddler in the industry.

According to National Employability Report , the education sector in India is poised to witness major growth in the years to come, as India will have world’s largest tertiary- age population and second largest graduate talent pipeline globally by 2020-end. India’s economy is also expected to grow at a fast pace; rapid industrialization would require a workforce of around 250 million by 2030; India could potentially emerge as a global supplier of skilled manpower. However, despite these encouraging statistics, a major segment of Indian graduates remain unemployable according to the above report. But the side of the coin could be turned, only if government and institutions work on skill-enhancement of students.

Different firms, states or nations have adopted various strategies to acquire the important human resource for successful commercialization and industrial growth. These strategies range from identification of Industry – Academia Convergence “Bridging the Skill Gap”, shortfalls which may occur, efforts to impart required skills, and adapt existing skills by orienting to new demands. Given the huge gap between the rapidly evolving skill need of businesses and those provided by our higher education system, there is a growing realization among the government, academic institutions and the industry, of the urgent need to bridge these skill gaps. However only a holistic approach to reforms in the higher education sector as indicated below can address the issue.

Balance of syllabus

Considering the evolving nature of industry and changes in the labour market, it has become imperative to ascertain how best the academic curriculum can address various requirements and demands of the dynamic industry. As the industrial revolution is taking place, the institutions need to update their syllabus which has not been changed since decades. Institutions need to scrap not-so-important topics and make a new syllabus with inclusion of latest topics along with hands-on industrial topic. The syllabus should also maintain a balance between theoretical knowledge and industrial exposure.

Motivating Students

Every individual is unique and have a different set of skills which make them stand out of crowd. But the skills fade-away in the world of pressure exerted by the society when it comes to choosing a field of education. They may not be good at inculcating the skills desired for their field of education but can do wonders in other. We should expose student learners to different industries/job options and give them the feel of what others jobs look like will help a lot in figuring out their interests.

Emphasis on Multi-disciplinary environment and Skill-based Education

Besides the domain skill, the industry also looks at soft skills, team building, values and attitude of an individual at the time of hiring. This can be developed by collaboration of joint degrees in academic institutes which results in almost job ready graduates .They should be encouraged to opt for various technical courses based on practical exposure available at a reasonable price, which can do fruitful. Exposing student learners to different industries/job options and giving them the feel of what others jobs look like help a lot in figuring out their passion/interests and future job.

Institutional structure

Institutions should include experienced mentors who are more aware of the curriculum structure and the industrial needs. They should take it as responsibility to guide the students in the right way. It should be made compulsory for higher degrees mentors or professors that they carry a specific practical exposure in their field. Because, only if they carry a sound practical knowledge in reference to their field, then only they can teach the students accordingly.

Institutions should also hire industry-experts as their guest lecturers to guide students. In fact; it would be great to see employers coming forward and working exclusively with the academicians to create and develop a shared model for jobs and curriculum to address their specific industry requirements. The successful model will ensure many benefits for everyone -the graduating students will find their transition into industry roles smoother, employers will be able to hire people who are skilled and job-ready and academic institutes will take great pride in seeing their students getting placed with good firms.

Capacity-building

Capacity-building is a long-term process based on Kiazen principle which commits to improvement. When applied to the workplace KAIZEN means continuing improvement involving everyone – managers and workers alike.

There are different levels of this process:

Individual level: Zeal of improvement within oneself with every counting step is the soul of capacity-building. Individuals like students or faculty should cultivate learning attitude by different mechanisms using which they can continue to enhance their knowledge and skills. This will also help an individual to become a life-long learner and adapt to changes as they face in future.

Social level: Support by society plays a vital role in helping a person develop. By social level, we mean interactive sessions, where feedbacks can be taken to understand and work on.

Workplace Exposure

According to Vice-chancellor, Professor Dr Patrick Kee Peng Kong of SEGi University ,to produce industry-relevant graduates, we, as an institution should focus on a student-centered environment where students are provided with opportunities to interact and work with industry partners on their assignments and projects, and have access to advanced laboratories and workshops with essential tools to develop their skills and should also ensure that students gain exposure to the real-life work environment so that their transition into the industry is as seamless as possible through programs such as Employment Readiness, Enrichment and Aspiring Club Leadership and Personal Professional Development.

Institutions need to understand good academic background has nothing to do with industries, good practical skills and job-readiness is the need of the hour. To meet those expectations of the industries and to combat such challenging issues institutions should organize workshops, seminars and most importantly should arrange internships for students to help them know-how of the workplace and hone the required skills.

Apart from this, government should take the initiative to open various entrepreneurship cells in academia and it should be included in the curriculum to enlighten the students about the requirements of society and industry as well  as  freedom,  challenges,  and sphere  of  entrepreneurship,  so  that they  can  be interested  to emerge as an entrepreneur instead of being entangled in the conventional jobs. This will provide a creative thought, risk taking capacity, and enthusiasm for accomplishing down-to earth problems in the young minds of the students.

Besides, the above mentioned  points ;a report  by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry concludes the industry, academy and government needs a collaborative effort to bridge the underlying gap .Also, a  regulatory body, exclusively for institutions, must be created to regulate, monitor and ensure Q&A (Quality & Assurance) in delivery of education. Also, institutions should be pro – active in addressing the needs, strengthen linkages with the industry and change with the changing demands of the Indian industry. Grooming of students should focus on creating a pool of effective managers and future leaders.

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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