Did the academics fail to meet economic challenges?

The local higher education institutions need to get their graduates job-ready to take up the professional challenges as Oman speeds up its economisation process.
There are a number of shortages in the local curriculums that fall short to deliver the required standards. The bridge between the academic institutions and universities need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Most of the academics are isolated from the latest industrial trends. New technologies get introduced on a faster pace in the last 20 years which the universities are too slow to keep pace with.
The solutions continue to elude academics. The demand from the industry never stops. Curriculums need to be modified according to the rapid processes to satisfy the need of workplaces.
The danger is that if academics turn a blind eye, then they fail their students. The passing grades of their degrees then become insignificant.
The success of the students is measured beyond the four walls of the higher education institutions. If they have to be employed successfully, academics need to work harder to bridge the gap with the rising demands of employers.
Sometimes the political will must prevail to make sure that the Ministry of Higher Education impose rules so that universities abide by having closer links with the employers.
For example, in Oman the role of apprentices have not caught up where senior students take a Semester off to work in the industries.
Teachers are so adamant to get their students in the classrooms very rigorously and are reluctant to give them the experience with the outside world. Too much classroom work, quizzes, assignments, presentations or examinations are not necessary and they act as deterrent to their development.
The partnership with the industry gives students something teachers cannot offer. For example, no teacher can actually teach ethics purely in the classroom.
On the other hand, communication skills can only be acquired when students actually go to the industry and practice it there. It is actually too late to wait until they hand over the degrees in their hands and ask them to practice ethical and communication skills then.
Moreover, if teachers need to raise their teaching skills, they themselves need to forge a more personal relationship with the industry.
The real challenge is to promote the status of teaching as a career choice. This way, universities can attract more able teachers not only to teach but develop students towards knowledge-based professions.
The industry wants to attract the best and brightest graduates and this the first top priority for their professional demands. They also want teachers to understand the nature of expertise needed in the jobs and the understanding to shape educational programmes to meet the needs of the industries.
Many companies in Oman are willing to coach and ready to arrange mentoring and ongoing professional development in the universities.
Features of these high-performing systems include rigorous teacher education courses and well-developed processes for defining and recognising advanced teaching expertise.
The truth is that Omani companies reject many graduates not because they are not specialised enough but they do not fit their requirements.
Academics need to realise this importance and give it a top priority. In other words, the present teaching methods, if they persist, will continue to waste hundreds of millions of rials of government in scholarships just because teachers do not think that the bridge between their teaching techniques and the industry is important.
Oman, like other countries of the world, has its own employment challenges.
However, the process needs to be properly addressed by academics. Last year, over 35,000 graduates find jobs both in private and public sectors. But over 20,000 failed to secure employment.
It might well be that among them, more than half just could not satisfy the demands of the industry because teachers did not bother to prepare them for the skills needed by employers.

saleh_shaibany@yahoo.com