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India has about 1.5 million engineering students graduating each year, most of whom have analytical abilities, exhibit flexibility and core technical knowledge. On one hand, there is adequate supply of talent. On the other, the IT industry needs a large number of employable students. The IT-and-enabled services industry employs four million graduates. Since it is a service business, it is only as good as its people. Established organisations typically adopt the hire-train-deploy model for freshers.
Recently, the industry has moved up the value chain, challenging this model. There is digital disruption due to newer areas such as automation, analytics, AI and IOT.
Due to the growing focus on technology spread, organisations are looking at investing in overall engineering education to build relevant and competitive talent. One of the avenues for an industry-academia partnership is to strengthen the electives.
Why industry electives?
Electives should have both, the rigour of academics and the relevance of a practitioner thus, leading to ‘industry electives’.
Industry electives facilitate access to career paths for students. Institutions’ must focus on fostering innovative ways for futuristic technologies, faculty and student participation in industry related initiatives, and in solving business and societal problems.
Achieving this requires academia and industry to collaborate with an open mind. Several IT organisations, big and small, have been working for the last few years to bridge the two sides.
Time to collaborate
This enables industry to put forth emerging business models, customer requirements, technology trends and the paradigm shifts in the talent development models. Broadly, industry can share practices where businesses have been subjected to powerful forces due to globalisation, and those that have helped the industry to significantly shape-up and encourage learning as a response to survival.
For academia, this is an occasion to spot new industry electives, understand the inter-disciplinary nature of requirements, seek curriculum inputs, and drive the change through internal board of studies.
At the next level, the head of the department and faculty, and with additional inputs from practitioners, should craft a syllabus to build these industry electives. Faculty development workshops should emphasise on problem-solving, instructional resources, methodologies, content sources, and working through case-studies.
The co-creation of industry electives presents a tremendous opportunity for a deemed-to-be universities and autonomous institutes, who have a greater academic flexibility to the extent of bringing quick changes to the system, to keep it vibrant to the needs of industry and vice-versa.
This article has been written by Dr. S. Ramesh Babu - Director, Data Science and Digital Products, Manipal ProLearn and was originally published in the Hindustan Times.