Studying about technology is no longer a silver bullet to getting a job. It is now possible for those who pursue technology studies to also join the ranks of the unemployed. What is behind the unemployment of some technology graduates?
Some employers have highlighted the misalignment between academia and industry among other major reasons. It seems some academic institutions are falling behind the current technology advancements. The speed at which technology is moving is far faster for academic institutions to catch up and align their academic programmes.
As a result of this, some technology graduates are walking around with academic qualifications that are not that useful for the industry. How can technology graduates defend themselves against this employment challenge?
Part of the defence strategy has to take into account current developments in the technology sector. Recently, we’ve seen more adoption of technology products that are designed by dominant technology companies.
Take Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a product. To be employed to work in environments where AWS is used it is ideal for a candidate to have AWS cloud computing skills.
In most cases, however, institutions of higher learning are too far from Amazon’s technological developments to align it with their academic programmes. This is also true of some tech companies. Their products are used widely in industry and yet they are not always in sync with academic institutions.
As a result of this, some technology companies have designed their own courses and established their own training entities. This approach by technology companies is an opportunity for technology students and those with interest to pursue a career in tech.
Recently, AWS opened its first international AWS Skills Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, continuing on a mission to remove the barriers of access to cloud skills training. AWS Skills Centres are Amazon’s dedicated, in-person cloud learning spaces designed for anyone who is curious about cloud computing, career possibilities in the industry.
Anyone, regardless of background, education level, or social status – can explore how cloud computing technology is powering everything from weather predictions to smart homes. Such learning opportunities are key in equipping graduates and those with an interest in a career in tech.
Skills acquired from companies that develop a technology can improve chances of securing a job over and above traditional academic qualifications. This is not to say traditional and formal qualifications are not important. There’s a need to enhance traditional and formal qualifications with industry relevant skills from developers of technologies themselves.
Some of these companies have also made available courses online and for free. Some courses developed by Google, Apple and others are accessible for free. These are just some of the ways in which students can ensure they have industry relevant skills.
On the other hand, learning institutions should also improve in aligning themselves with the technology industry. Some have done so already. SAP and Cisco are just some of the companies that have worked closely with the academic world to ensure that students have a deep knowledge of their technologies. As a result, most graduates who enrolled for SAP and Cisco programmes via academic institutions have not struggled to get jobs.
Collaboration between technology companies and academic institutions needs to be enhanced to close the skills gap among technology graduates. This would go a long way in avoiding a scenario where some learn tech and still remain jobless.
Wesley Diphoko is an Editor-In-Chief of FastCompany (SA) magazine.