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Getting a Job after University

Ensuring that students get a job after higher studies means institutions of higher education will have to be increasingly flexible and demand-driven in order to survive and grow, say Canadian and American representatives from college and university associations.
BY Rajyasri Rao |   01-03-2013
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Greater collaboration across disciplines within a university and closer linkages between universities and industry is going to mark the way forward for higher education institutions around the world says Dr Sethuraman Panchanathan, Arizona State University’s Senior Vice President of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Universities are increasingly going to have to contribute to economic development, he says. “Just graduating your students isn’t good enough anymore – you have to be able to prepare them to work with industry.”

Panchanathan exemplifies ANU’s close links to software company, Intel. “We work with Intel to help generate the employees they’d like to see who can in turn be put on the job right away instead of having to first finish university studies in some discipline and then undergo retraining for six months or longer with the company.”

In 2010 ANU partnered with Intel and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to help modernise higher education in Vietnam.

“They have a number of universities but not as many well-qualified faculty members to educate their own force,” Panchanathan says.

ANU started a pilot project a year and a half ago with the Ministry of Labour and Education in Vietnam. The pilot was a success and Panchanathan says it’s going to be expanded further to become a 40 million dollar project.

“Everywhere, countries face a common problem: how do I get a highly trained workforce and how can universities help deliver them?” he says.

Paul Brennan, President of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, says the community college institutions were created 40 years ago to provide access to post-secondary education to a large number of Canadian students.

“We have programs that bring people up from low literacy; for dropout high school students who suddenly realise they need a job, or mothers who have been taking care of families and want to reintegrate into the world of work,” he says.

Centennial College, Toronto - Canada

Brennan says the community colleges provide such groups of people with transition programs to allow them entry into various other programs including one-year certificates and two-year diplomas for trained technicians, three-year diplomas for technologists and applied bachelor degrees and post graduate certificates.

“Our moniker is not pure research and academics but applied education and applied research,” he says.

 In Delhi at the invitation of the Indian HRD ministry to help transform 200 polytechnics identified by the government ‘into demand-driven colleges that could provide access and employment’,  Brennan says India is taking timely steps in the right direction.

“I think the partnership is to India’s credit – they have seen that you can’t move to a different paradigm without some international partnerships,” he says. “For to move from supply-driven, government-driven institutions of low funding to connecting in a real way to employers who will do the curriculum and place people in jobs and be driven by the market - that’s a major shift.”

The partnership will link up Canadian community colleges with their counterparts in India with the aim of demonstrating that there are ways for such institutions to be demand driven and flexible.

“The speed at which our economy goes, if we are not flexible and demand driven, we will become redundant, very quickly,” Brennan says.

Both Panchanathan and Brennan attended the Salwan Media One Globe 2013: Uniting Knowledge Communities conference.

Rajyasri Rao has worked as a journalist with the BBC and the UNICEF in India and as a communications consultant for Ericsson in Sweden. She holds an M.Phil. in Sociology, from the Delhi School of Economics.


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