One of the concerns that industry experts have sadly and reluctantly given up on is the quality of the graduates we see each year. Millions of dollars are spent each year training freshmen, even those from leading institutions, to make them fit for industry positions. Exposing the schism between industry and education, these training sessions focus on fundamental knowledge skills such as business communication, the use of basic applications, and even worse, the very elements of their niche disciplines. Moreover, in addition to the currently required skills, the institutes should impart the knowledge of emerging areas in the market, to prepare candidates for the future rather than a short-sighted education.
For example, it has become an unfortunate ironic cliché that the majority of software engineering graduates are bad programmers and that IT companies spend a significant amount of time and resources training the newcomer to the industry. Such is the tragedy of the current education system, which, given the mediocre cohorts that most technical colleges produce, is no longer exclusively students of the discipline looking for coding jobs. Instead, any graduate can often apply for software-oriented jobs to fill the quality gap that the engineer graduate cannot fill.
What worries the company’s management is that several candidates, despite having a great academic background, are deficient in basic skills. While the alarming scenario calls for action in terms of a bottom-up approach for the most effective human capital outcomes, higher education institutions must provide a backstop in the meantime.
As a breath of fresh air and in response to concerns from both industry and academia, NEP (New Education Policy) 2022 has sought to codify the need to introduce industry-specific skills into education. Under the new policy, industry leaders can be linked directly to the courses as curricular consultants and teaching staff. This much-needed action is just one step toward curing a single symptom of a complex disease: merely taking care of current practices.
To prepare students for what they will need in the future, it is critical to start by defining key areas for improvement in the context of emerging trends that B-schools and technical colleges need to catch up on.
An integral part of today’s jargon and perhaps an unavoidable reality that has already happened to us. Industry 4.0 requires future management professionals to adapt technical solutions to their field, no matter how labor intensive or mechanical the process may be today.
Today, the world of finance is quickly moving away from accounting and analytics. Fintech is the order of the day. Stock analysis, risk management and valuations, areas that already rely heavily on software, continue to require more complex, multivariable considerations that require increasingly sophisticated algorithms to compute. In fact, these challenging numerical roles require not only state-of-the-art technical skills, but also advanced statistical and math skills and perhaps later the latest knowledge in AI & ML (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning).
Likewise, even the most mechanically process-oriented industries, such as supply chain management or manufacturing, are poised to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0. With the rise of 5G, advanced IoT (Internet of Things) and robotics applications, the factory floor is poised to increase the rate of production. In fact, advanced automation could force today’s Operations professionals into roles that were previously solely about logistics management.
The fintech and manufacturing industries are ample evidence that, given the needs of future markets, there will be a demand for hybrid skills that no single discipline can match. In this scenario, one of the highlights of NEP 2020 comes to mind as a solution. The new policy has proposed frameworks for dual specializations in different disciplines that could potentially be powerful combinations for the emerging trends. In addition, the policy states the need to regularly update the curriculum and provide the latest information through a variety of techniques, including MOOCs, ODLs, transferable credits through the academic credit bank, and many more.
In addition, this proposed change emphasizes earning credits through research, industry immersion programs, or other ways that provide insight into the day-to-day work of the marketplace, preparing students in a real way rather than a past bookish approach.
Bridging the required technical skills is just the beginning. In addition to a new-age curriculum and pedagogy, the institutions are in dire need of quality control, either self-imposed or in a centralized manner, in terms of teaching staff, resource availability, and overall industry exposure. In addition, to cultivate future all-round leaders. Technical and business institutes should go beyond technical or economic knowledge and instead focus on holistic development in terms of interpersonal and leadership skills.