Let's talk tertiary education. How can we better prepare students for the real world? In reality most graduates exit the tertiary education system armed with a piece of paper stating that they have mastered the art of studying or rather passing academic tests. What happens when you enter the working world and the practical side of the working environment kicks in? When your employer asks you to unlearn what you spent four years learning at varsity? What do you do next? All these are predicaments that numerous graduates who are lucky to find a job straight out of university often find themselves in.
Employers often claim that interns are more of an expense, as opposed to being assets, as a senior staff member has to supervise, look over their work and in some cases end up redoing the interns work. Does this mean that there is a need for bridging process for interns and graduates allowing them to adapt to the fast paced working environment? Or are we saying that there should be a shift towards equipping university students with practical work place skills whilst their still at university.
Here is an idea...
What if tertiary institutions produced work ready graduates who are "plug and play" type of assets who require a little bit of training to align them with the core values of the company. This does not mean that tertiary institutions should get rid of theoretical based teachings, but instead ensure that a student has enough practical knowledge for them to be able to plug into any work environment without having to be retrained.
The question then lies in how tertiary institutions achieve this? Let's take the architectural professional as an example. This being my field of expertise having studied architecture for 4 years and worked in it for 4 years after, l am still learning things l wish l had learnt during my tertiary days. If only Architectural academic institutions could consider enforcing measures which expose students to other fields associated with architecture instead of just teaching them the basics and principles of the trade this would help students adjust easily in the work environment. Architectural theory is a foundation that every architect needs, but architectural firms do not only want to hire people who understand the foundation and principle of the trade, they are in fact looking for someone who can implement practical solutions to particular projects.
So instead of just focusing of the fundamentals of the trade, academic institutions should develop curriculums that mirror the real working environment and start to introduce cross platform collaborations at a tertiary level. For example, an academic department can create programs that will require students from different fields in the built environment to collaborate on a project. This interaction between the different fields within the built environment will be beneficial as these are the same conditions that a student will face when they enter the working environment. Essentially what you get is a young graduate who has worked on a project involving a Quantity Surveyor, various Engineers.
The more the universities mirror the working environment the less the students will struggle to adapt to the working conditions once they obtain a job straight out of varsity.