By Pravin V Patil, Chief Executive Officer – Centre for Industry-Academia Partnerships, MIT World Peace University (MIT-WPU)
Some universities are introducing programs in collaboration with tech giants such as, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). These partnerships ensure that the course curriculum is designed by the corporate and senior executives from the industry also conduct expert lectures for specialized courses where they have a proven industry niche.
A recent survey, known as the Annual Employability Survey 2019 report by a leading assessment research organization, observes that 80% of Indian engineers are a mismatch for most jobs in the knowledge economy and only 2.5% of them possess tech skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that the industry requires. This is not only true for the engineering discipline in India but also holds true for across all the academic specializations and branches. It further highlights the huge industry-academia gap that remains to be filled in the Indian education ecosystem.
Bridging Industry-Academia Gaps
To bridge this gap, it is important to align the curriculum to industry trends and make it industry-centric. Universities and colleges must collaborate with the industry to ensure their curriculum is frequently updated after taking and implementing their concrete feedback. The good news is that a few universities are driving industry-academia collaborations along with corporates, which is paving the way for a revamped curriculum. This is especially true for popular programs such as, BTech where new courses in Artificial Intelligence and IIoT are being introduced to ensure industry-relevant skillsets are instilled in students within their academic degrees.
Some universities are walking the extra mile and even introducing university programs in collaboration with tech giants such as, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). These partnerships ensure that the course curriculum is designed by the corporate and they even conduct training sessions for the faculty members. In some cases, senior executives from the industry also conduct expert lectures for specialized courses where they have a proven industry niche. Students are exposed to emerging topics such as, Analytics, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, etc. to make them industry-ready at the end of four years of study. Periodic progress assessments of the students are also taken.
Multi-Disciplinary Approach in Education
Apart from an industry-centric approach, universities must also adapt to a multi-disciplinary approach in education. This means that students must be given the option to explore and study courses from different disciplines. Dual specializations and degrees that allow for a major and a minor will instill a multi-disciplinary approach in thinking and problem-solving, which are important skillsets from an industry point of view. This is increasingly becoming important today as the entire technology sector has already been disrupted a few times in the last few years and will continue in the same path.
Starting Early with Career Grooming
Another important aspect of grooming industry-ready professionals is nurturing students at an early stage. While most universities do help students with their final placements in their last year of study, it is also important to conduct career counselling sessions as well as sessions that will prepare students for competitive job interviews, group discussions and entrance exams.
Students must be encouraged to participate in an exhaustive process during their academic programs, which includes aptitude tests, group discussions, personal interviews, resume building, presentation skills, etc. to upgrade their skills and be prepared to successfully face the highly competitive placement process at the university. This will help them to meet the competitive edge and hone the skill-sets of students by identifying their weak areas at an early stage and providing them the necessary well-structured grooming from their first year of degree.
Nurturing the Leaders of Tomorrow
It is my firm belief that to create a new generation of industry-ready, dynamic leaders of tomorrow, instilling a holistic, value-based education should start at an early age. Education should not just be limited to the classroom but should also revolve around the holistic development of students, which includes Peace Studies as well as the pursuit of Science and Spirituality along with an emphasis on research and innovation. This holistic approach in education will shape our students and equip them with not only academic competence but will also ensure an overall personality development that will drive them to meet the challenges of the future.