The majority of parents want to provide their children with the skills and competences they’ll need to be successful and productive in their professions.
In pursuit of this goal, parents put their faith in universities and other higher education institutions to adequately educate their children for the ever-changing work landscape.
However, given how dramatically the world of work has changed and continues to change, it is critical for all higher education institutions to consider, and in many cases, review their offerings in order to ensure they deliver relevant and integrated curricula that adequately meet employer demands and enable students to excel in their chosen fields.
This is according to an education expert, Cymbeline Harilal, the instructional designer at The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), SA’s leading private higher education provider.
“Higher education institutions must, therefore, now - more than ever before - include and be intentional in integrating 21st century and industry-aligned graduate attributes into all curricula,” says Harilal.
She added that between the corporate and educational sectors, there is a concerning mismatch between industry demands and graduate attributes developed in universities.
“It is necessary for universities to bridge the gap through the delivery of dynamic curricula that addresses the disparity between skills supply and industry demand.
“The relevant skills outlined in the World Economic Forum's report on 21st century requirements highlight the significance of an adaptable curriculum in response to changing job demands. These skills are comprised of foundational, competencies, character qualities and technical skills.”
Harilal says these skills can be broadly described as:
Students must be able to apply the essential abilities of literacy, numeracy, science, information technology, and financial literacy.
These are primarily created in school, however, certain children who graduated from underprivileged schools may require further assistance.
Critical thinking, creativity, clear communication skills, both written and spoken, problem-solving ability, and teamwork are essential for functioning in a corporate setting where these qualities are necessary to push the firm to be successful, efficient, and competitive.
An additional talent that has lately become significant is the capacity to apply oneself freely in a distant work setting.
These are more difficult to include into a curriculum since they eventually come down to personality qualities, but they may be introduced and developed.
Curiosity, confidence, initiative, perseverance, grit, emotional intelligence, adaptability, leadership, resilience, and social or cultural awareness are all appreciated attributes in the workplace.
Competence in sophisticated technologies, data manipulation, and strategic use of technology has become critical for attaining a competitive advantage aimed at bridging the gap between the skills sought by industry and those supplied by higher education institutions.
Harilal explains how as expectations evolve and the future job market remains uncertain, many graduates express apprehension about their employment prospects.
She says students should be provided with opportunities to evaluate conceptual knowledge, analyse complex ideas, and generate innovative solutions, enabling the development of numeracy, writing, communication and technological skills to meet industry demands.
“By bridging the gap between employer expectations and the skills possessed by graduates, a seamless transition into the professional world of work becomes more likely, to the benefit both of the graduates and industry in South Africa,” Harilal concluded.