The skills gap refers to the difference between what students are taught in school and college and what employers are actually looking for when hiring recent graduates. This distinction is constantly growing. Every industry wants a skilled workforce that can hit the ground running quickly.
This transition from campus to corporate isn’t always an easy one, primarily because of the gap between what the industry expects and what academia provides.
Many blue-chip corporate entities who recruit from various campuses end up having to train new recruits for at least four to six months before allowing them to work on projects. These organizations try to finish the unfinished job of the academic institutions of delivering productive resources. Many of them have even instituted tests for new trainees a few weeks into the training.
With that thought, let’s highlight some of the ways to bridge the learning gap between campus and career.
Emphasis on conceptual clarity
Life would be a lot simple if open-book exams existed. Because when you try to work in a professional setup, you’re expected to have all theoretical knowledge at your disposal. Nobody will recruit you for memorizing the details, as it doesn’t add any value. But the employers will, however, want you as a part of the team and value your capacity to apply those theories to practice in order to solve practical problems.
Hence, many educators believe that open-book exams with simulation and case studies are the need of the hour so that the new age student can let of the habit of memorizing “by heart” and instead becomes adept in critical thinking to develop logical and analytical ability.
Effective communication is vital
Conceptual clarity and understanding won’t be helpful unless you’re able to convey it in a meaningful way. Your ability to convey should exude objectivity, confidence, and maturity of a 360-degree perspective. The traditional chalk and talk method and a “one size fit all” approach to learning don’t contribute anything to fulfil this purpose.
Students rarely receive individualized mentoring and the space to grow as mature and confident individuals. Thus, in most cases, they are not even familiar with their individual strengths and development needs. It’s time that teachers should work on respecting the individuality of their students.
Improving the student-teacher ratio and enhancing the skills like public speaking on random topics of interest, allowing active participation in sports and cultural events, student exchange programmes, festivals etc., may help in this regard. The academic sphere needs to appreciate that it’s their responsibility to deliver a gateway for holistic development to students.
The objective of our education system can’t only be limited to creating bookworms who can slog long hours to memorize the written text. It’s vital that students are confident, creative, and complete individuals to deal with career responsibilities better.
Industry visits and interaction
It’s important to learn how specific industry functions, and educational institutions should encourage students to take that opportunity through internships. Students can take part in the family business after college hours, consider a summer job or start a small entrepreneurial venture, etc. This will expose them to real-life challenges and will also educate you on how to deal with them.
It’s also important to rope in educators with industry experience in various academic institutes part-time or full-time as faculty. These experts are expected to have a more practical and objective outlook towards the requirements of the industry and will assist in mentoring and shaping young minds.
Focus on acquiring multiple skills
It’s crucial to manage and prioritize the list of tasks you need to accomplish in your career. There can’t be any universally applicable formulae for this. It has to be based on multiple factors, including the urgency involved with the given task, the source of the request etc.
If you’ve had an active student life where you’ve devoted the time to develop varied interests like music, sports, or community service, and even then you manage to balance those priorities and do well in studies, then you would find it much easier to adapt to this.
Most examinations are ideally created in a manner to assess an individual student in terms of his knowledge on the syllabus and don’t assess him/her in terms of collaborative efforts or group work skills. However, the moment a student crosses the threshold of campus and walks into the professional CSE citation generator setup, chances are that she/he will be part of a larger corporate ecosystem.
The student (later a professional) has to learn how to consider diverse views and conflicting interests into consideration and yet manage to keep the teamwork up year after year. Participation in team sports, cultural activities like group theatre, group discussions can help to a great extent.
How educators can prepare students to fill this gap
Teachers and professors should focus less on teaching textbook knowledge and more on teaching problem-solving skills that can be associated with new challenges and situations, elaborating on the need to include intercultural experiences.
It’s important that teachers foster creativity, newer ways of thinking through the use of technological and modern skills. It’s common for educators to focus on hard skills. Hard skills are learnt faster on the actual job, while soft skills usually aren’t all that easy to learn. Transforming the education system to the present and future needs of the job market, like AI or virtual reality, will be crucial.
It’s easy to blame the government and administration for proper policy reforms. But it takes academia, parents and civil society at large to have a role to play in having a more confident and readily employable workforce.