Aligning Education with Global Industry Ecosystem: Reforms, Collaborations & the Road Ahead

Aligning Education with Global Industry Ecosystem

In today’s interconnected and rapidly evolving world, it is crucial for education to align with the global industry ecosystem. The panel discussion on “Aligning Education with Global Industry Ecosystem: Reforms, Collaborations & the Road Ahead” at the World Education Summit in Dubai aims to explore the strategies and initiatives required to bridge the gap between education and industry. Edited excerpts:

Kinnari Kotecha, Faculty Business Administration & Teacher Trainer, Ministry of Education, Dubai, UAE (Moderator) shared,” I have divided this topic into four simple points: skills, vocational exposure at the university and higher education level, industrial partnerships, and employability skills. Through my research and surveys, I have discovered that there is a significant gap in employability skills among graduates in various countries, including the US, UK, Singapore, and India. This issue is a global challenge, and we are discussing the fact that graduates and higher education students are lacking the necessary skills to perform their job roles effectively.”

Philip Quirke, Executive Dean – Faculty of Education, Higher Colleges of Technology, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE shared, “To be honest, the introduction of coding into the curricula of higher colleges and federal universities was not recent. It was mandated by the government six years ago, and most of us complied with this requirement. Along with coding skills, we were also required to teach entrepreneurship and innovation, which was typically covered in a General Studies course.”

“Today, we are seeing a higher level of coding skills among students, which allows us to specialize and find equivalents to those General Studies courses. For instance, in early childhood education, we are partnering with others to introduce coding courses for young learners. The same goes for entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainability, which were once part of the higher education curriculum but are now being taught at the school level. This trend shows maturity in the education system. In addition, we engage with industry partners through advisory councils, academic committees, and industry programs to develop curricula that are relevant to them.”

“In our country, we have a close working relationship with our industry partners. However, we need to reflect on history and ask if industries are avoiding their own training responsibilities. We cannot simply rely on high schools to produce super students with skills that took most of us until we were in our thirties or even later to develop. We must find new ways to collaborate and work together to address this issue. One promising approach is to break down learning objectives into micro-credentials and embed industry-relevant certifications into educational programs.”

“For example, our IT program has six different industry certifications integrated into it. We need to stop pointing fingers and work together to achieve great education. This summit is an excellent opportunity for collaboration among industry, schools, and higher education. We must communicate and collaborate rather than focus on shortcomings. By doing so, we will avoid letting our learners down. Let us not expect the new generation to be superhuman, but rather recognize that they are super in their way.”

Dr. Hanadi Kadbey, Head – Institutional Research & Effectiveness, Institutional Research and Effectiveness Department, Emirates College for Advanced Education, Dubai, UAE shared, “In the UAE, there is a current emphasis on apprenticeship programs, as directed by the Ministry of Education and the national qualification Center. This approach combines on-the-job training with technical classroom instruction, offering several benefits to students. By experiencing the work environment, students can cultivate essential skills and receive support from potential employers early in their career journey. The success of apprenticeship programs in countries like Switzerland has influenced this direction, where apprenticeship opportunities are introduced to children as early as grade four. By age 15, students can choose from 250 apprenticeship programs, preparing them with job-ready skills upon high school graduation. This approach aims to decrease youth unemployment, and by offering micro-credentials and focusing on apprenticeship, the UAE hopes to address any challenges that may arise.”

Dr. Indranil Bose, Vice President- Academics, Adamas University, West Bengal, India shared, “According to government statistics, there are presently over 41 million Indian students enrolled in higher education, which is a substantial number considering the population size of some European countries. India has over 1,000 universities, including 54 Central universities, 416 State universities, 125 deemed universities, and 361 private universities, as well as 159 institutions of national importance, such as IITs and IIMs.”

“The Indian government recently introduced the National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020, which aims to revolutionize the Indian education system. The NEP is a concurrent subject in the Indian constitution, which means that both the central and state governments can enact laws and regulations concerning it. Although many state governments have already accepted the NEP and plan to implement it, the task of implementing it in such a vast and diverse educational system is challenging.”

“One of the key aspects of the NEP is the mandatory implementation of industry-integrated programs in universities. Many universities, including private and government institutions, are already implementing these programs, and multinational companies such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS, and Microsoft are collaborating with Indian universities for this purpose. Even companies in sectors such as logistics, supply chain, and aviation are participating in large-scale internship programs with Indian universities. Presently, approximately 69,000 Indian students are participating in such internship programs with Fortune 500 companies.”

“The NEP also emphasizes the importance of improving the curriculum, introducing multiple entry and exit options, and improving the accreditation system to make Indian qualifications more globally employable. Despite the challenges of implementing these changes in such a vast and complex political structure, the speaker believes that positive change is on the horizon.”

Prof. Joseph Wallis, Dean, School of Business, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, shared, “The saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” seems to apply to employers and their interest in soft skills among students. As the dean of a business school at an American-style university in Ras Al Khaimah, I have observed that 25% of the courses offered are general education courses that help students develop these skills during their first and second years.”

“However, I am concerned about reinforcing and further developing these skills as students progress through our business courses, major electives, and requirements. To address this, we have built the development of soft skills into our mission and program learning outcomes, reflecting what employers are seeking in potential employees. We also assess students to ensure they have retained these skills upon graduation, identifying areas for improvement and reinforcing them through active engagement in the classroom, such as through teamwork, simulations, and competitions. While this may be a familiar story to many universities in the region, we place a high emphasis on developing thoughtful, collaborative, creative, responsible, critical thinking, and initiative-taking students.”

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