Prof (Dr) Sanjiv Marwah, Director, JK Business School was invited to speak at the prestigious Oxford Debate at Oxford University recently. He spoke on the topic ‘Does college education help develop practical skills and find a job faster? Should the syllabus be changed drastically?’ Dr. Marwah attended the event alongside noted participants from universities across the world.
In his talk, Dr. Marwah said, “Traditionally, college education was expected to impart an education that could lead to building a career that, in turn, would lead to a viable economic activity and income generation. Colleges were expected to work closely with the industry and prepare students with the theoretical base of skills that would lead to practical skills of use in the industry.”
Practical skills could be built and modified as per need and, therefore, we’re adaptable. It was thought that these acquired skills would help students find jobs faster. Unfortunately, surveys across the world have shown challenges in the employment of graduates. A survey by McKinsey Global Institute shows that corporations find only 25% of Indian engineers employable. A key reason for this has been increased acceleration in the obsolescence of jobs and the increased pace of innovation across industries. A second reason has been that the utilization of skills has started to cover multiple industries or areas of study. Hence, students need additional expertise to find jobs.
The relationship between industry and academia needs to move from ‘Producer-Consumer’ to ‘Collaborative- Interactive’. A dynamic and fast-paced change in industry warrants adaptive academia that is able to take inputs from the industry in an era where the half-life of skills is falling rapidly.
Dr. Marwah also suggested a syllabus updation framework to tackle the issue. The industry and the institution both need to develop a framework to facilitate industry interactions with faculty. Presently, both operate in different worlds. The updation of the syllabus is usually an annual or biennial activity, but the interface of faculty and industry in the framework provides the requisite inputs for change.