Over the past decade, business has changed dramatically. As a result, workforce skills and requirements have also changed. There are jobs today that didn’t exist 10 years ago — data scientist, social media manager, app developer, there will be new roles with new requirements that don’t exist now. But while this has happened, one sector has lagged behind: education especially higher education.
The speed of technological innovation and industry demands is moving faster than higher education’s ability to adapt. The system continues to focus on lectures and exams, leaving students underprepared to enter today’s workforce. They’re suffering as a result – along with businesses and higher education institutions themselves. How can we expect students to be effective and successful employees when we’re using outdated models to prepare them? IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed a group of academic and industry leaders about the current state of higher education, they agreed. We found that 51% of respondents believe that the current higher education system fails to meet the needs of students, and nearly 60% believe it fails to meet the needs of industry.
Industry and academic leaders revealed that the very skills needed for workforce success are the same skills graduating students lack — such as analysis and problem solving, collaboration and teamwork, business-context communication, and flexibility, agility, and adaptability. Underscoring this point, 71% of corporate recruiters indicated that finding applicants with sufficient practical experience is their greatest challenge when recruiting from higher education institutions. Boosting the value of today’s higher education system and, most importantly, helping prepare students for life after class, means adopting a more practical and applied approach to education.
Those surveyed overwhelmingly agree that providing experience-based and practical learning is critical to address the current performance gaps. Integral to this is building and expanding partnerships between academia and the private sector to create a more valuable education ecosystem. Working together, students created a plan to improve marketing operations, suggesting that the company make better use of blogs, videos, and content sharing to improve the flow of information and collaboration across the entire organization. The practical experience from assignments like this better prepares students for tasks they’ll have to do in the real world.
Students also expect their institutions to deliver technologically enhanced experiences, yet higher education doesn’t always deliver. Universities have to start embracing and exploiting new technologies in analytics, cloud computing, mobility, and social media to provide greater access to educational content, integrate physical and digital worlds for more engaging experiences, and improve decision making.
The emergence of new collaborative education models are already starting to reinvent education. In 2011, IBM helped develop and introduce Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH), a completely new education model that blends career and technical skills, emphasizes STEM subjects, and combines free public high schooling with community college.
(Article adapted from https://hbr.org/2015/07/why-higher-ed-and-business-need-to-work-together# and written by Michael D. King, Vice President and General Manager of IBM’s Global Education Industry. IBM’s Education portfolio includes consulting and IT services, analytics and other software, as well as cloud and high-performance computing).