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Are universities preparing graduates for the future of work?

Future of work
Higher education in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Source: Alex Knight/Unsplash

As the lines between human and machine intersect, the future of work remains uncertain. So much is being said about how the Fourth Industrial Revolution is shaking up the working world, with predictions stating that thousands of jobs could soon be lost to automation.

The dawn of the technological revolution is readily upon us, evident in the widespread use of artificial intelligence (AI) among a slew of other new forms of technology that are up and coming. This means many of today’s students are poised to work in careers that haven’t yet been invented.

This begs the question: are universities doing enough to prepare graduates for the uncertain future of work? Are students being equipped with the 21st century skills needed to thrive in the future?

Higher education has a pivotal role to play in educating and upskilling current and future generations of talent. This means today’s universities can’t afford to play catch up with the rapid technological advancements – they should already be equipping students with the transferable skills and knowledge that would enable them to hit the ground running in the future of work. 

So, how can universities improve on current practice?

The robots are coming, but are universities doing enough to help graduates navigate the future of work? Source: Rock’n Roll Monkey/Unsplash

Industry partnerships

Not all universities can boast of industry partnerships, but they serve as important collaborations that enable the transfer of knowledge and expertise from industry to the future workforce. 

Industry partnerships between the university and companies enable students to gain hands-on working experience and enhance their industry exposure. This doesn’t just improve their career-readiness, but companies are also playing a role towards the development of future talent, while potentially benefiting from nurturing talents they can absorb in the future.

Work placements 

Work placements, internships or work integrated learning are just some of the many ways universities can help students put theory into practice, equipping them with the relevant skills needed to thrive in the world of work. This also serves as a platform for students to learn how to work well within a corporate structure, how to mingle within a professional setting and other things that can’t be taught in the classroom.

Opportunities to gain work-relevant experience for credit with the university’s industry and community partners can also make the university more appealing for students.

Mentorship programmes

University mentoring programmes, especially between alumni and current students, are a useful way for students to learn from individuals closer to their age, who they can relate to with ease.

Such relationships enable students to learn and gain advice from individuals who may be less intimidating than seasoned professionals, in addition to helping students grow within their personal and professional capacities. 

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