missing career front end – part 3 (colleges/universities)

This is 3rd in the series of career management issues and in this series I want to cover the angle of the colleges and universities.

Why colleges and universities specifically? In the higher education spectrum they bring the students as close to the job market as one can, but do they really? Is the curriculum adapted based on the kind of skills required in the industry? Are the teachers equipped with the knowledge of the job roles in the industry and what will be required of these students once they go out of the institute?

Traditionally, colleges and universities are considered to be learning portals of just-in-case resources and hence, bits and pieces of knowledge of all kinds gets imparted to the students based on the choice of their field. What happens, in effect is that the student comes out confused and unaware of the reality of the job market whereas, the expected effect should have been their interest in specific areas within the entire domain to explore and work in. How will that happen if they have no idea of what is out there? And, what disservice the career and placement agencies renders to the students! Slot the companies and make available a relatively undifferentiated, uninformed pool of students in front of them to select.

You might think, how would the colleges/universities benefit from a career front end service? Or rather, what are they missing? To begin with, information on what is available out there in a given job market – not just in terms of job roles, but skills required, career progression path, higher education opportunities etc. if made available to the students is definitely good information to have for the students. Now, how good would it be if it were to come from the alum base of the same college/university for the current batch of students?

How about colleges knowing what kind of output they are actually producing? They spend so much time and effort selecting the incoming batch but there is no accountability once the students go out. How successful are the students who go out of a given college/university? How many of them feel confident enough to seek careers in their field of study? How many of them did higher studies and benefited from it? How many of them changed careers within a few years? How many of them are doing nothing related to what they learned at the college? What are the major streams that the bunch of them are going into? What kind of skills do they think are mission critical and need to be nurtured back in college?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this data available when you go to join an institute? Wouldn’t it be good to have more than just placement statistics to look at, for the incoming students? Now, from the college point of view, wouldn’t it be nice to know the effectiveness of their program delivery and work on it continuously and improve? How about creating/altering program offerings based on collected data, industry/alum feedback? I know some colleges and universities do this on a small scale, but how about making this a mission – developing metrics that can take out the other factors that could influence what a person does with his education and refining it over time to create a reliable data set which points to the effectiveness of a college/university in a person’s life?

Please feel free to pour in comments, suggestions…


2 Responses to “missing career front end – part 3 (colleges/universities)”

  1. 1 Anoop December 12, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    We rarely come across people who say Im using all the basics learnt in engg & I apply it in my business environment. Firstly not many even have that vision to know the type of career they pursue, very few have such thoughts on mind. Many only get to know that they want to pursue a specific industry after some specialization. The cause for such obliviousness is the college they study in & also the quality of the professors who lecture in the college, I came across many professors in the college who they themselves know nuts about business, neither do they have any industry experience before they begin lecturing in a local college, most people I met only took up lecturing job as a stop gap & some looked like they did not have passion to teach. No wonder none of the colleges does the above survey, if they really do such survey’s they end up getting negative reviews from graduated students most of the time & would have no leverage in the education market.

    • 2 Sreeja Iyer December 14, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      thanks for your comments Anoop. I agree on your point that teachers need to have more practical and hands on experience, it will only help them teach better and give a better outlook of the real world to their students. Given the way certain industries have and have not developed in India in different regions the exposure the students have to the real world is very limited. Both colleges and teachers have an onus to serve this function and not limit themselves to just theoretical knowledge rendering. And though the colleges have an initial disincentive to do the kind of survey Im talking about, the rewards they would reap would be enormous, right from mobilizing alumni support to being able to stand out in the regular run of the mill colleges and claim that they are “career-oriented” etc… what you think?

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