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Staying Relevant

With a focus on overcoming the challenges of an ever-changing economy, this is a synopsis on staying relevant with continued education.

Photo of Akash
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Remodeling curricula for better adaptation to the fast changing needs of the job market, and continued support for alumni, can work wonders in preparing learners for needs of the future.

1. Remodeling curricula:

The curricula of established undergraduate and graduate programs tend to get rigid over time, not allowing the flexibility to accommodate training, in skills being demanded by the market. The curricula could be remodeled, to prepare the student for a career that can adapt to the ever changing needs of the job market. This can be achieved by a multi-pronged approach:

a. Emphasis on the fundamentals: Students with strong foundations in the fundamentals of the field, tend to understand the advanced concepts with greater ease. This would enable them to have a sound understanding of their discipline. At the same time, they would learn to treat new skills/technologies, as tools to solve problems, rather than study the skill/technology itself. This would help them stay abreast with the latest trends in their fields, and also inculcate the problem-solving spirit, that the industry usually looks for.

b. Balance between theory and practical knowledge: Most curricula today struggle to strike a balance between the theory taught in the classroom, and the practical applications in the laboratory/industry. Balance is essential, for students to complement practical and theoretical knowledge with each other, rather than substitute one for another.

c. Emphasis on current and short-term job market requirements: Curricula need to incorporate the skills that are most in-demand at the moment. This will help students stay current with the technologies being used in the industry. This would propel students towards securing internships, during the course of study. Also, this would better equip students to secure full time jobs, relevant to the field of study.

d. Emphasis on next most probable job market requirements: In addition to teaching the current skills demanded by the job market, there must be an effort to identify the emerging skill set requirements, that are most likely to replace the current skill set requirements, in the near future. This will help students stay ahead of the curve for the next shift in market requirements, and also give enough time to prepare for the one after.

e. Emphasis on real life academic projects: Academic projects need to closely mimic real world job assignments. This would prepare students better for the workplace, and help with a reduced adjustment period, and better productivity on the job.

2. Continued educational support for students: Once students graduates, their relationship with the university ends almost immediately. If universities were to continue supporting their alumni, and help them stay in touch with the current trends in their disciplines, this would greatly help them from facing the dangers of stagnation and obsoleteness. 

a. Universities could set up a system, where alumni may look up current and future trends in their discipline and prepare for them.

b. Universities could provide subsidies to students, for courses on MOOC platforms such as Coursera and Udacity. Industry involvement in this respect is key, since most companies sponsor courses on these platforms. The attached diagram explains the symbiotic relationship between industry and academia, that can be achieved.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This idea is designed for undergraduate and graduate students, and is designed to ensure their continued relevance through the volatility of the job market. All fields of work have changing demands over time, but the fundamentals of the disciplines remain the same. At school, I propose a sound foundation for students in their field of study, and ample ammunition of skill sets to enter the market. After school, I propose continuous education, as a tool to stay current in their field of work.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Objective feedback and brainstorming around each point listed, would help me refine my ideas, identify flaws, and provide a better solution to the problem at hand.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I do not work in the education industry, and cannot directly experiment with my ideas. However, I can survey a reasonably wide range of students and match the results of the survey against my proposals.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am an engineer and a software developer by profession, and designing solutions and products is part of my daily life. Outside of my job, I have a keen interest in identifying and drawing up solutions to an array of real world problems, ranging from engineering to socio-economic. Although I find ample thrill in solving problems, I take more joy in the problem solving process. My long term goal is to bring these designs and solutions to life, hopefully with some funding.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Andrea Zelenak

Hello, Akash!
You have a lot of great points! Here are some other great ideas and conversations happening... You should definitely refine your idea on what you feel most passionate about. I'd love to see how these ideas can come into fruition. Real world application: Bringing higher education to work places; Turn working centers in to small universities  Company Sponsored Colleges (Build on this idea)  Industry needs study 
Job markets : Connecting higher education institutions to the job market 

Photo of Akash

Thanks for the suggestions, @Andrea Zelenak. Refining my idea to limit the scope to my area of interest.

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