The debate about bridging the gap between academia & industry is never ending and universities are full of people who are taking initiative to tackle the situation and cement a road that can do the trick. Academicians have developed the departments that are solely responsible to equip the final-year students & freshers to achieve what it takes to hit the ground running in an industrial set-up.
Not to upset the academicians, I believe that if there is a separate department to polish the skills and school the students to acquire the professional traits, it will only compel the students to unlearn the taught skills and learn the new ones in a very narrow window of time.
The trick is to teach the students what theories and norms are there in the books and how they impact real-life situations. Rather than stuffing the grey matter of the students with bookish knowledge, the practicality and productivity of each aspect, theory, notion, norm and statement should be taught.
I can see the gap more obviously because I have been lucky to teach by teachers who became academicians after working in the industry for several years. My thought process was moulded accordingly by teachers from SIEMENS, TOYOTA, AstraZeneca etc. and instead of being taught the theory, I was given the problems and told to sort them out with the help of books and their intuition.
The DNA of the whole pedigree can be related to the example that if you taught someone “French” language in a classroom, the language will be of limited use to him/her. But rather than that, if someone is taught French by speaking it with native speakers, watching movies or dialogues and put in more of a real-life situation, then s / he will be able to use that more practically and diligently and it would benefit the person more. That learning methodology will teach the French that is more used at a street level and talked about more in media.
Similarly, let’s talk about MS Excel. You can teach so many tools, techniques, hacks & formulas in a classroom setting. Contrary to that, if a problem is given to the students in an Excel course and the students are asked to come up with a solution either by reading a book i.e., Excel for Dummies or by watching a YouTube video, the students will remember that thing more and even see the actual practicality.
Keeping that perspective in mind, the learning and teaching approach used by most of the universities in Pakistan needs to be revised and revisited and the teaching pedagogy should be changed altogether. That would create a workforce of fresh graduates who are more aligned with the demands of the industry and they’ll fit better and quicker into the organizations.
—Fahim R. Chaudhry
The writer is HR Manager at Qarshi Industries and can be reached at: email@example.com