Higher education demands job-friendly syllabus

Higher education demands job-friendly syllabus

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Various surveys revealed that a large number of graduates in India are not employable. Seeking the current situation of unemployment in the country, Dr Sitaram Soni, HOD Engineering, ITM University, observes the importance of industry oriented syllabus and role of the stakeholder in making student job-ready for Elets News Network (ENN).

Dr Sitaram Soni, HOD Engineering, ITM University

Dr Sitaram Soni, HOD Engineering, ITM University

The world is undergoing a technological revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. Termed as the “fourth revolution,” it has today created a “techonomy community” that believes in the paradigm that technology is and will define the business and society. This almost avalanche of changes needs the people who can bring, handle and adapt to this change are also available at the rate matching to the quantum. These changes are impacting all the jobs in the industry and society. The jobs are getting changes very rapidly by adapting to automation, AI, robotics and new business architecture. The new job environment requires individuals to be at ease with technology, uncertainty and, therefore, risks, in addition to delivering in the midst of chaos and complexity. All this demands a complete new form of professionals. The prime responsibilities of developing young professional with such capabilities, rests primarily with our institutes of higher learning. Unfortunately, our present higher education system is completely incapable of even addressing to the basic elements of this responsibility, leave aside taking the lead to steer and guide the change process in industry and society.

We also want to see that our institutes of higher education act as centers of learning that encourage collaboration, autonomous learning and innovations; but our educational institutes are infested with redundancy, lethargy and complete lack of creativity and innovation. The major cause of this state of affairs is the culture and environment of our institutes. The responsibility of creating and maintaining the culture creativity and of innovation rests primarily with the faculty and the students of the institutes. Most of the faculty members of the institutes of higher learning are on the permanent tenure; without any robust mechanism of monitoring their role and contribution in supporting the creativity and innovation in the institute. Most of the people taking up such jobs become lethargic after some time as there is no mechanism to reward and support the creative thinking.  This leads to situation where the educational institutes get dissociated from the changes taking place in the society and industry. The rate at which the faculty members and the curriculum are reformed is much slower than the changes happening in the industry. With time, this gap between the industry and academia becomes so wide that the education process completely loses its relevance to the industry and society. This is the kind of scenario we are experiencing in current times.

This state of affairs is very alarming as the present days economy and the leadership in the world entirely depends upon the technology, the institutes of higher education needs to revamp themselves; so that they can play the apt role in building the nation and prosperity for its people. Institutes should be the agent of transform, rather the institutes are laggards, barely able to keep them aware of what happening in industry, rather than leading the change. Even this knowledge about the change is sporadic and fractured.  Most of the institutes have no role in guiding and steering the directions of the technological changes the world is going through.  In order to reverse the current trend and to establish the institutes and their rightful place and relevance in the society, we need to revamp all the stakeholders and their contribution towards making the institute of higher education leading the change.

The major stakeholders in the higher education are higher education leadership, faculty, students and industry or employers. There is a need to change at every aspect of this phenomenon.

Higher Education leadership: The leadership is the most important component of the higher education framework, but, unfortunately that is the unconcerned, if not irresponsible component. The people who are in the positions of guiding the higher education policies and the education framework to prepare students with relevant knowledge and skill needed in the industry at any particular time and near future are mostly the ones who have little or no idea of the whole domain. They are the people who have the full time employment with the government without any monitoring, control and accountability towards the post they are holding; and, most certainly without any fear of losing their jobs, if their skills and knowledge are not relevant to the needs of the time. No wonder, they have little motivation to understand the needs and changes in the skills needed for the employment and their change dynamics.

Faculty: The recent explosive growth of educational institute and entry of the non-serious player in the domain of education, have resulted in the adopting the path of the least resistance in acquiring, developing and retaining the good faculty members. Most of the institutes are owned by the people who are in the game for the quick money rather than for the love of education and cause of developing the society with appropriate skills and capabilities to help the nation. This goes quite contrary to the reality, as the quality education is actually a long term cycle process. Nothing good can be achieved by short term attitude and processes.

Students: The student needs to be more focused and aware of the career path an choices available. They also need to be aware of the changes and trends in the industry, which will determine their employability. The students should not entirely depend upon the degrees and certificates for their employment and relevance but they also need to augment their skill sets with relevant tools and techniques needed to enhance their career. As the volume of knowledge in any domain in increasing at alarming rates, it becomes very difficult to keep one skilled in multiple domains. So, one should identify early his/her domain of specialization and acquire deep knowledge, skill and understanding in it. This is the age of specialization and niche and not of the generalists.

Industry: Till recently, especially in India, the industry and academia were two different islands with very little of negligible connection and communication between them.  The industry expected the academia to help them solve the real world problems, but academicians were too happy and contented with textbook problems and solutions. Slowly, the industry stopped approaching the academia for their problems and academicians were too happy with their classroom teaching and paper research. The students who were undergoing through the education in such environment failed to realize the real world problems faced in the industry when they come out of the institute and find themselves quite incapable in even comprehending, as they had no experience of such situation during their study years.

Now, there is need to rethink the whole process afresh. All the stakeholders have to do away with their ways of doing things the old way, and adopt the relevant process and systems , which enable them to augment each other’s role and effectiveness in the current and future need of the trained professionals.

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