With the economy and workplace changing so rapidly, and with no signs it will slow down any time soon, companies are increasingly looking for graduates with the ability to communicate with colleagues and clients, ethically and professionally, across platforms, disciplines, cultures, national boundaries and cyber-physical interfaces.
‘Building higher education curricula fit for the future', a report published in May 2018 by Advance HE in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University, explored higher education responses to the UK Government’s 2017 Industrial Strategy, and emphasised the view that universities were often out of touch with business when it came to graduate skills and employability.
It also emphasised that HEIs needed to develop a broader collective vision that looks beyond STEM subjects to recognise the creative and innovative possibilities fostered in graduates of all disciplines.
To address this, Tim Hinchcliffe, Senior Adviser at Advance HE, delivered a workshop to the MENA-HELF forum in February, which sought to explore a range of issues including graduate attributes in relation to the fourth IR, referencing Michael Carr, Executive Dean – Enterprise at Nottingham Trent University, who said: “STEM skills are important but they’re not the only ones that are important for our society going forwards.”
The next generation of students may only spend a few years, if any, using the content knowledge acquired during their degree programme. They will have multiple roles and job titles that currently do not exist, work simultaneously for multiple organisations, in a working life that could span 60 years. They will work from home, in the cloud and alongside robots, making decisions based on data drawn from a wide variety of sources and communicating with people across the globe.
Tim used gamification to challenge participants to consider their own settings in relation to course provision and distinctive qualities and identity.
He discussed the accelerating pace of change, comparing the amount of time it took for a particular innovation or product to gain 50 million users (68 years for airlines versus 19 days for Pokémon Go), emphasising the rapidly changing economy and underlining the need for the future workforce keeping pace with change.
This led into Tim’s activity ‘Your Institutional Portfolio’ – an engaging game whereby participants played against each other to build their university’s portfolio of programmes. This activity elicited the need for HE provision to be carefully ‘balanced’ as well as underlining the importance of inter-disciplinary subject development.
The Middle East-North Africa Higher Education Leadership Forum (MENA-HELF) is one of the region’s networks addressing specifically higher education leaders and decision makers from across the globe. The Forum aims at providing a platform to discuss latest trends, developments and challenges facing HE leaders; the Forum aims at stimulating discussions, encouraging new ideas to be generated and suggesting strategies to support the structuring, evaluation, ongoing improvement and the overall advancement of HE.
Advance HE views embedding employability as providing the opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, experiences, behaviours, attributes, achievements and attitudes to enable graduates to make successful transitions and contributions, benefitting them, the economy and their communities. Find out more about our Embedding Employability Framework here.