News Article

Outdated Education Plans Must Change to Meet Talent Needs

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 14:03

Mexico might be among the countries that generate the most engineering graduates with over 100,000 per year but it still struggles to narrow the gap between what the industry really needs and what the talent market can offer. At Mexico Talent Forum 2018 at Sheraton Maria Isabel, CDMX, leaders from the academic sector took the opportunity to express how the relationship between the industry and academia can improve to generate the talent the country needs.

One of the most recent examples regarding industry and academia collaboration is the development of the aerospace sector in Queretaro. Bombardier arrived to the state acting as a magnet for further investment from other suppliers, forcing academic institutions to develop the necessary talent to support aerospace operations. “We worked together with the industry, collaborating with top-level executives all the way to plant operators,” said Norma Muñóz, Academic Secretary at UNAQ. “However, the industry is changing all the time and candidates must be capable of adapting to these changes.”

The fourth industrial revolution has been a driver for many companies to embrace new technology trends such as additive manufacturing, advanced robotics and virtual reality and according to Juan Manuel Romero, Innovation and Technology Coordinator at UNAM, the government and academia must work together to help companies embrace these trends. “It has never been more important for the industry, academia and the government to work together and create the right conditions for talent development,” he said during the panel.

Integrating these trends into the education system can be challenging in itself, although, said Katia Villafuerte, Executive Coach and Professor at ITESM, “our education model is outdated. It is based solely on favoring theoretical knowledge.” The model must be updated according to the fourth industrial revolution where all academic areas can coexist and it must incorporate new ways of passing knowledge to more digitally oriented students. “If a teacher lecturing students about a certain topic is no longer effective, we must find new ways to transmit knowledge,” added Zinia Padilla, Director of Culture and Change Management at ITESM.

Padilla and Villafuerte highlighted some of ITESM’s strategies for changing education methods in favor of the industry’s needs. Padilla mentioned the Center for Teacher Development and Education Innovation as one of the main efforts to improve teaching methods, leaning on communication and information technologies. Villafuerte shone a light on the Innovation Week and the Innovation Semester organized by ITESM, where students participate in and solve real industry problems with the help of their teachers.

Understanding what the market is asking for is a key element to consider when developing new academic programs, according to Mariana Monge, COO of Generation Mexico, and it is what can help companies determine the return on investment from any new education methods. “Students must be aware of the job opportunities and salaries they might reach through a certain training program or certification. Meanwhile, companies must understand how easy it will be to retain people after training them and the benefits that these models will bring to the company,” she said. “Education is a continuous process, from university and job training to employment.”

Academic institutions are gradually changing their curricula to adapt to what the industry needs but a strong participation from the industry in student development is key for this effort to succeed. “If the industry is not invested in training students, models like the dual-education system cannot work,” said Muñoz. Marta Román, Academic Director of Collective Academy and moderator of the panel, asked the panelists what they would ask from the industry to improve their participation in the development of new academic programs. Monge identified four main topics. “We need companies to help us identify what their needs are, to map competences among their employees so we can better identify candidates, share that data with us and finally, openly embrace new education and training models.”