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The evolving role of higher education in making learners job ready and industry-relevant

The skill gap partly emanates from a lack of awareness about current job roles and requirements among the youth entering the workforce.

The evolving role of higher education in making learners job ready and industry-relevant
Recognizing the skill deficit, employers across industries are investing heavily in upskilling their employees. (Image – Unsplash)

By Amol Dani

Increasing adoption of the latest technologies and growing data-driven marketplaces are changing workplace dynamics across industries. As the nature of jobs is transforming, it has become a must for today’s learners to continuously be on the quest to acquire in-demand skills. Under the current scheme of things, there is a real gap between formal education and ever-evolving industry-relevant skills. This gap has also become a cause for concern for industry leaders. For instance, 75% of 150 corporates surveyed in the India Skills Report 2022 stated a skill gap in their industry.

The skill gap partly emanates from a lack of awareness about current job roles and requirements among the youth entering the workforce. Another factor behind the skill deficit is the lack of practical exposure to changing technologies. The skill gap is wider in tech-heavy sectors like IT, Engineering, Manufacturing, BFSI, Pharma, and Healthcare where the need for a digitally skilled workforce is high. As per a NASSCOM report, there could be a shortage of 14-18 lakh digitally skilled professionals by 2026. Some of the in-demand skills in which shortage is expected are in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing.

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The long-term fix for workforce skill enhancement

Recognizing the skill deficit, employers across industries are investing heavily in upskilling their employees. However, employer-led initiatives sometimes are a short-term fix for the immediate needs of various industries. For the long term, higher education can pitch in by making learning a holistic and sustainable lifelong experience, by embodying the principles of customization, continuity and control. That said, the following practices can be adopted in higher education to make learners more job ready and relevant:

– Provide learners with real-world views and application of subject matter by integrating industry practitioners and professionals into the learning process

– To increase the understanding of industry-relevant skills and expertise, the perspectives of employers should be added to the course mix. More mentors from the industry can be roped in by educational institutions for this purpose

– Learners should be provided adequate exposure to real-life applications and live cases to align their learnings with industry requirements

– Along with formal degrees, institutions should encourage short-duration parallel certifications that will enable learners to get acquainted with contemporary industry knowledge

Conclusion

Most industries are currently in flux, adjusting to tech-led disruptions. At the same time, responsibilities of employees are also evolving into more strategic roles. This has made often-ignored abilities like soft skills, flexibility, decision-making and leadership more valuable.

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In this emerging scenario, higher education can play the role of a perfect enabler for learners by making learning a holistic sustained lifelong learning experience that should go beyond mere certification to preparing learners for the jobs of the future. At the same time, it is also important for learners and workers to invest in their own future by working towards acquiring emerging and job-relevant skills. They should invest their time and resources to learn and develop industry-relevant knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors to contribute significantly to their workplaces.

(The author is Co-Founder and Global CEO, KeybridgeGlobal Education. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)

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