‘Universities stamp out creativity’: are graduates ready for work?

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Over six million workers worry that they would lose their jobs to machines in the next 10 years. At present, approximately 1.1 million people work in the gig economy, tapping onto the digital space to source for niche, often on-demand jobs. Also, graduate employability is an issue faced by a third of graduates due to skills mismatched.

What can universities do to produce job-ready graduates for an uncertain future was the topic discussed by higher education professionals and industry leaders. It surfaced that the numbers failed to demonstrate actual reality. For instance, Scott Corfe, chief economist at the Social Market Foundation, highlighted that automation did not certainly mean fewer jobs – just different kinds. Also, politicians were wrong to presume that these would be predominantly be in programming; on the contrary, programming was likely to be automated in future, while more creative skills would still in demand. “The most critical factor is allowing individuals to reskill and maneuver around the job market more promptly,” he pointed out.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, challenged the thought that a dynamic, unchartered jobs future was something unfamiliar. In contrast, every generation would most likely have experienced the shifts in job market.

Were graduating students not equipped with the relevant skills of the job market? It is critical to not mix up learning skills with content that quickly become irrelevant, said Kathy Armour, pro vice-chancellor (education) at the University of Birmingham; while Alec Cameron, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Aston University, underscored that content matters but primarily as “the circumstances where one can nurture skills and attributes”.

The consent was what regardless of the future of work employment outlook, it would need creativity. Julie Ward, Labour MEP for north-west England, emphasised on the importance of including arts in underlining of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as primary subjects, so that Stem becomes Steam. Parents who dissuade their children from taking art subjects because these would negatively affect their job prospects would be a misjudgment, she said.

Universities must make certain that the approach used to assessed students drove teamwork and a creative approach to learning. This is because employers not only look for creativity, but also curiosity. Work experience was significant in nurturing these skills; and while work placements or experiential learning were important in closing attainment gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students, not everyone moved towards the job market from the same starting point. Work placements are also important in helping to uphold students’ innate abilities because every so often, universities unintentionally stamp out creativity. Another mean to equip students with transferable skills is to allow them to work closely with researchers to become independent learners and researchers through their own ability.

However, students will have to gain more than learning skills from universities to achieve outstanding careers. They will have to put together the strength and skills needed to manage their mental health. Students today felt that they were paying a lot for a university education and have therefore changed attitudes towards the skills institutions have to deliver. However, employers have a part to play in this as well. This meant partnering with universities to establish expertise and source relevant and distinct trainees. In addition, Sandy Lindsay, founder and chair at the communications consultancy Tangerine, pointed that apprenticeship is one plausible solution. She has established the Juice Academy, a digital marketing apprenticeship programme, because she perceived digital marketing as being too dynamic to be taught at the slow pace of a university environment. However, she viewed the government’s present apprenticeship programme as a missed opportunity, coming up short of significant flexibility. While many agreed that universities will have to respond more quickly to the dynamic shifts of the workforce, the solution was not just to keep up with the pace. Universities would most likely continue to be the trusted providers of education. However, there should be new means to bundle material into microchunks. It can be observed that many young learners would prefer to bundle their learning in a different manner over a life course, and this seems to be where the future lies.

Source: The Guardian 

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