Time to bridge gap between education and job market

Muscat University has organised a two-day conference on taking education closer to the industry and job market. International and national speakers are looking at the trends in higher education seen in the last 10 years and what could be expected in the next ten years.
The conference will also have two workshops on the second day namely roadmaps for practical education and for internationalisation in higher education in Oman. The key note speaker Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, UK, said, “I think what is fundamental is guaranteeing students get good experience when they leave the institution with a reputable and reliable qualification.”
Speaking to the Observer, he said, “There is a tremendous pressure for students to have successful careers and the quality of the higher education prepares them for it.”
The challenge has been the clash between the qualifications students graduate with and requirements of the job market resulting in unemployment.
“There is an increasing talk about whether the graduates have the right skills and are the graduates choosing the right careers? What are the opportunities they have got? What we have to get across is higher education is an invaluable life-changing experience that sets people off on a successful future. It is a great opportunity but only if institutions make sure the students are getting quality education,” pointed out Blackstock.
Closing the gap is becoming increasingly difficult because of technology, said Prof Dr Ashley Braganza, Deputy Dean, College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, Professor of Organisational Transformation, Brunel Business School.
“Technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the nature of the work and how work gets done in organisations. I think what we need to do is to help the students learn on how to get jobs and develop a level of resilience,” Dr Braganza said. According to him, looking at practical education, the key message he would want to get across is that education itself is changing.
“So on one level it is important students understand concepts and theories, which is more of a traditional view. But the students also should know how to apply those theories.
That is apply them in practice and what that means in the world of work whether it is public or private sector or even if they are entrepreneurs. They should be able to draw on their education and what they have learnt in the university through their programmes in order to guide them to make better decisions.”