Education and Employment: a Shift in Focus
Higher education faces a dilemma. Should universities decide on what skills and technical knowledge they think a graduate should have, or should they be aimed at meeting the needs of employers and increasing the chances of a graduate to work? The consulta
- The reality is that you need a balance. Universities should provide graduates with strong technical knowledge based on best practices, also taking into account the international achievements in their disciplines, and at the same time there’s a need for interaction between employers and students in order to have a clear idea of what will maximize the chances of graduates for successful employment.
In order to try to understand the processes and describe the main structure within which universities can provide higher education that develops both the academic and practical skills of their students, I and Professor Stephen Pavlin from the University of Bath take part in a project aimed at developing principles of reforming the curricula and plans, and the creation of a roadmap through which institutions can effectively collaborate with employers, including the elements of their programs aimed at increasing the chances of successful employment. The work map will be accompanied by a number of basic principles of educational process reform that correspond to international best practice, which universities will be able to guide in the development of their curricula and syllabi. The project, developed by the British Council in partnership with the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan, primarily focuses on programs that provide diplomas in the field of economics and management, but can also be used for programs in other directions.
As a result of the first phase of the project, graduates of three universities specializing in economics were interviewed in order to get an idea of the modules that they found most useful when applying for a job. In addition, polls were conducted among a number of key employers to determine which skills and attributes they most value in graduates of higher education institutions employed by their company. The purpose of this study was to determine the strategic correspondence between curricula and the needs of employers. This kind of important information is key to the evaluation of curricula in terms of their effectiveness.
These surveys are only part of our partnership project. Within the framework of the scheme we have detailed discussions in the work and focus groups of the content of current national and similar international curricula, their structures, the balance between general economic knowledge, development of key skills and coverage of a specific specialization sector.
The preliminary analysis of the obtained data allows to determine what basic skills employers would like to see in the new generation of graduates. At the same time, such aptitudes as the use of ICT, social and communication skills, including the ability to work in a team, are indicated as the most critical. In addition, analysis of survey data from graduates shows that the knowledge they consider useful as a result of their university training needs continuous improvement and development, especially as they move up the career ladder.