Skills Obsolescence and Education Global Risks in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
1Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico; 2Universidad del CEMA, Argentina; 3Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States; 4ESADE Business & Law School, Spain
The thrust of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the pressure of industry stakeholders require employers to develop and implement new workforce strategies. In the engineering field, current requirements must address the additional challenges related to planned obsolescence in technology. This phenomenon has represented in recent years a triggering risk for other labor obsolescences, with devastating effects for many companies and educational institutions that were unprepared for these cataclysmic changes. The current panorama is frantic and especially damaging for educational institutions in Latin America, to the point that the worst facet of technology obsolescence, known as systematic, causes a kind of "mirror" obsolescence in academic programs in engineering institutions. The objectives of this Work-in-Progress study are to: (i) identify problems related to technological change skewed by skills, in the technology sector labor markets and (ii) assess different initiatives that educational institutions in engineering have addressed, including Higher Education and Continuing Education. This document also briefly presents a statement of the implications for educational practice with focus on actions, possible frameworks of teaching and learning techniques, and a summary of the research expected results.
Student Industrial Secondments in East Africa: Improving Employability in Engineering
1Science Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organisation (STIPRO), Tanzania; 2University of Dar es Salaam, College of Engineering and Technology (CoET)
Relative shortage of engineering practitioners in sub-saharan Africa has been a big concern for many studies on industrial and technological development. However, the region that suffers from this shortage simultaneously has a significant number of existing engineering graduates who find it difficult to land employment in engineering fields. While that situation reflects inability to have enough human capital in industrial processes, two scenarios partly explain the situation: a relative deficit (real or perceived) in the competency of local engineering graduates in ever-advancing areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and/or scarcity in opportunities to hone and demonstrate competency of local engineering graduates in the labour market. Consequently, local engineering graduates have inadequate hands-on experience needed in industries as well as for establishing start-up engineering firms/businesses.
To address this situation, it was postulated that promoting engineering student industrial secondment (SIS) programmes can be a suitable approach to strengthening the linkages between engineering study, practice and employability. Since completing academic engineering majors is apparently not enough by itself to bridge the skill gap and prepare most engineers to enter their countries’ engineering practice fields, and the currently existing students placements seem to have some serious flaws, the present study was launched with the aim of exploring best practices, for evidence-based policy learning in establishing and running robust engineering SIS programmes coordinated between universities and industries – and perhaps with support from the public sector – to serve both industries and students.
Using innovation systems and systems thinking as conceptual and theoretical framework approaches, the study included surveying in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda in addition action research by piloting four (4) SIS placements in Tanzania and Rwanda; the main objective being to observe closely, try potential modules, and learn and synthesize effective experiences of SIS programmes from developing countries. The study is currently half-way through and has as of now completed phase I (survey activities) where findings indicate several similar experiences with students’ industrial training programmes and initiatives, in East African universities, in terms of models, challenges, and feedback and perspectives of stakeholders. Additionally, they reflect on weak documentation of SIS programmes as well as the importance attached to systems’ approaches in terms of inter-linkages in the engineering ecosystems.
Multi-party Collaborative Education: A New Way to Train High-Quality Engineering Talents in China
Center for Engineering Education, Tsinghua University, China, People's Republic of
Proficient engineering problem-solving skills are indispensable for engineers, but the limited engineering practice experience provided by universities cannot meet the future work requirements and career development needs of engineering graduates. To give full play to the role of university external resources in training engineering talents, China has proposed and implemented a multi-party collaborative education(MPCE) model in which universities, enterprises, scientific research institutions, industry organizations, and governments have cooperated in-depth. Different from previous engineering education reform policies, MPCE is the first important engineering education reform made by China from the level of national development planning since entering the 21st century. This model aims to carry out the cooperation with various stakeholders outside the university in a larger scope and deeper degree, to train all kinds of engineering talents to better match industry requirements and adapt to the current and future development of economic society. To provide some inputs and rationales to engineering education policymakers in other national contexts, this paper systematically sets out China's MPCE model, and analyzes the MPCE conceptual framework and the roles of universities, enterprises, research institutes, governments, and industry organizations in MPCE. It is concluded that the systematicness, synergy, and integrity of policies are crucial to the formation and development of the university-industry interaction.
Engineering Graduates at a South African University and their Prospective Employers – Expectations and Reality
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Since the dawn of democracy in South Africa in 1994, numerous changes have occurred at tertiary institutions to enable greater access for people of all backgrounds and increased graduate throughput to fulfil the needs of the labour market for engineers. Widespread changes in the size and composition of successive undergraduate engineering cohorts have occurred. Simultaneously, the needs of industry have undergone significant changes due to the information age, globalisation and the rapid increase in technological advances and access to technology. This study attempted to assess the alignment between the expectations of students who have graduated in engineering, the expectations of engineering employers and reality. A mixed methodology was developed. The study firstly surveyed engineering graduates at a South African University using a questionnaire developed for quantitative analysis. Convenience sampling and a positivist approach were used. Graduates’ needs, study approaches, employment and workplace expectations were determined, analysed and interpreted through the lens of three frameworks, namely Biggs’ study motives and strategies, Bloom’s taxonomy and Boundaryless and Protean careers. Secondly, the study surveyed all engineering discipline academic leaders at the University by qualitative, semi-structured interview within an interpretivist paradigm and using deductive thematic semantic analysis. Academic leaders were used as a proxy for obtaining industry opinion and expectations and questioned on a number of themes including graduate and employer expectations, positive or negative trends, graduate training programmes, further training and postgraduate study, exit-level outcomes (ELOs) and graduate attributes, the reality of mis-alignment and what the University can do to limit it. Responses were collated and compared quantitatively and qualitatively where appropriate. A number of issues and mis-alignments was identified together with causes of mis-alignment. Mis-alignment was identified in salary, growth and guidance expectations, confidence, software and niche proficiencies and innovation expectations. Key causes included language barriers, lack of engineering hobbyist backgrounds, workload and study strategies, assessment changes and personal responsibility. Findings were discussed within the three theoretical frameworks mentioned above and summarised in light of the objectives of this study. Recommendations for the University to play a role in mitigating many of the issues and mis-alignment were provided, along with recommendations for any possible future research in this area.