Professors of Practice – Why They Are Central to Bridging the Skills Gap
To prepare students for the jobs of the future, universities need to bring into their faculties Professors of Practice to teach courses, advise students, and collaborate in areas directly related to their expertise and experience.
The skills gap is growing.
The technology jobs of the future will be in Big Data, Cloud, Integration, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Fintech, and Cyber Security.
How many universities, today, are preparing their faculties for these domains? How many universities have the tools & the resources to tailor courses to professionals in this niche?
The gap, between the skills employers need and what students who leave universities have, is growing. If you read a typical entry level job description posted on LinkedIn today, 70% of the requirements are not being taught in colleges.
Entry level positions now demand a couple of years’ experiences in a similar position.
Hiring Managers don’t have the patience to spend a lot of time (and money) to find someone that they will eventually have to take additional time (and money) to train on the job. Wouldn’t it be great if we had more graduates with a deeper understanding of the practical applications in their field of study?
The reason for the skills gap is twofold.
First, the curriculum for technology and engineering has not been updated to reflect the needs of the time. The curriculum of today was designed to support the needs of the industrial revolution of 50 years ago. We are living in a digital era – the 4th industrial revolution.
Dated curricular coupled with traditional approaches of teaching need to be urgently adapted to the current demands of technology-driven industries.
The cost of not doing so is simply too high given the velocity of digital transformation in the private and public sector.
Second, academia focuses mainly on theory and research. Professors are getting so deeply specialized that they have lost touch with the practical side of technology and engineering education. What this means is that students miss out on the functional and applicability of what they are learning.
Students today need to learn about sustainability, entrepreneurship, communication, teamwork and leadership. Technical proficiency is great but to stay relevant to students and to industry, faculties of technology and engineering must do so much more than just transferring academic knowledge.
How are fresh graduates going to get jobs when their current degree programs are not preparing them with the basic skills for their first job four years from now?
Universities need to understand that students must have more exposure to projects where they are asked to integrate real-world applications with their textbook-and-classroom, lecture-based learning. To meet the new and growing demands of technology & engineering professionals, the way students are taught has got to change with the times. Academia needs to pivot to a new model that puts digital at the core of their strategy.
Practice experts in the private sector know what skills they need to get the job done today. They understand the tools and the trends.
The working title of Professor of Practice in academia will help promote the integration of academic scholarship with practical experience.
Professors of Practice provide faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students with an understanding of the practical applications in a field of study.
To prepare students for the jobs of the future, universities need to bring into their faculties Professors of Practice to teach courses, advise students, and collaborate in areas directly related to their expertise and experience. These professors will need to be deeply involved in the selection and design of the course projects. Policies at the regulatory levels will need to be updated to make this happen.
Academia has a key role to play in Digital Transformation.
Universities today need to prepare the students for the jobs of the future. An effective technology and engineering degree program today is one that has been tailored with the jobs of tomorrow in mind, not just in theory but also in practice.