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Academia-industry linkage at the heart for a knowledge economy

Published : Friday, 24 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 636

Academia-industry linkage at the heart for a knowledge economy

Academia-industry linkage at the heart for a knowledge economy

In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution the world is experiencing the pace of technological change reshaping life, livelihoods, education, healthcare and commerce significantly. People around the world are found struggling to cope with the rapid technological changes in every aspect of life. In this technology-driven age we are noticing a significant gap between academia and industry lagging many developing and poor nations behind in attaining economic prosperity.

In recent times the world has seen academia-industry linkage as a broad concept to maximize global economic growth. Many developed nations such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and the European Union have increased collaboration in academia and industry over the years.

Studies have revealed that harmonious development of a country is completely centered on how it has the ability to exploit its manpower. Skilled manpower is the pre-condition for the resilient development of a country and in this regard, the role of universities is pivotal in producing graduates equipped with knowledge and skills.
To address the challenges in the age of 4IR the world is prioritizing knowledge-based economy where human skills remain in the forefront. Universities see enormous responsibilities to build a knowledge-based economy. They are not only liable to produce graduates but also have the accountability to supply the right employees who meet the requirements of the industries.

But how far universities can produce right employees unless they maintain the linkage with the industries? Certainly, there should have a mutual relationship between academia and industry and through their concerted efforts skill mismatch could be resolved.

In Bangladesh we see that debates are ongoing that how far our universities maintain collaboration with the industrial sectors. But do we see any alternative to building a linkage between university and industry to ensure sustainable economic growth of the country?

The new technological revolution is likely to alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another bringing out many challenges such as transforming the manufacturing sector, automating old jobs and increasing creativity as well as efficiency. However, to mitigate the disruptions caused by technological revolution we find no alternative to develop skilled human resources.

It is estimated by the World Economic Forum that about 800 million people around the world are going to lose their jobs by 2030 amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution unless initiatives are taken urgently to re-skilling and up-skilling the existing workforces. Experts predict that more than 50 per cent jobs are vulnerable to automation. As per the Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum, more than one-third of the skills that are believed to be essential for todays workforce need to be reshaped to reap the benefits of the 4IR.

The youths must be equipped with some unavoidable skills such as technical skills, soft skills, and entrepreneurship skills and to ensure these skills for the future leaders, collaboration of academia and industry is a must. In this age our youths have two alternatives left ahead whether they will engage themselves in the journey of accumulating innovative knowledge and skills to accept the changes or put their life into life-long struggle without achieving sustainable skills which ultimately lag them behind.

Though our university scholars often blame that job opportunity is still scanty, what the job employers do not think so, rather they seem worried of the scanty of worthy candidates.  Sources estimate that every year around $8 billion to $10 billion is remitted from Bangladesh due to the salaries paid to the foreign workers in the country as there is a shortage of skilled manpower.

According to a recent study by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), a 30% skill gap is noticed in the industrial sectors while a relatively moderate skill gap is found in agro-food processing and RMG sectors. The study also reveals that the gap is higher in ICT, ship-building and the large-scale electronics sectors.

Education of a country works as a driving force to turn its nation into human resources. But the question may be pertinent to raise; how far our education system contributes to producing skilled future leaders of the country? It seems frustrating when we see that our education system is not working to mitigate unemployment though it is universally acknowledged that education creates empowerment and skilled manpower.

Studies have revealed that most of the universities with their existing academic curricula have failed to produce the graduates the industries seek for. In most cases they confine their students to rote learning and hardly introduce corporate teaching models.

In most cases, it is commonly found that universities are not worried at all regarding the employability of the graduates, rather they are busy with awarding degrees to their students and hardly maintain liaison with the outgoing students in regard to creating scopes for them.

In the last couple of years, it is good to see that some industry entrepreneurs and academic institutions are working collaboratively to produce smart citizens badly needed for building smart Bangladesh.

Private universities in the country are found proactive to maintain a linkage with the industrial sectors. They often arrange seminars and workshops and invite the CEOs from different renowned companies and associations in their universities. The invited guests from business sectors share their experiences with students and discuss the type of graduates they require.

I teach at Prime University of which has a dedicated career development centre organizing seminars and workshops regularly that provide practical knowledge to make students groomed for their future career. Apart from providing career counselling, it helps students to develop appropriate grooming techniques, more professional manner in the workplace, positive personality traits and acquire skills required in the corporate job sectors.

However, concerted initiatives from both sides are appreciating but to mitigate the ongoing challenges caused by increasing gap between academia and industry, priority should be given to ensure how to reap the demographic dividend of the country.

Experts suggest reforming education policies and prioritizing technology-based skills development to make the graduates worthy of the competitive global market. Finally, it is very urgent to accommodate our graduates with skills and knowledges highly required in the era of 4IR. For this, we see no alternative to ensure better collaboration, coordination and synchronization between the industry and the academia.

The writer teaches at Prime University and Research Scholar at the IBS

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