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Meeting Global Demand: Private Industry Creating Pathways to Professional Development

The EvoLLLution | Meeting Global Demand: Private Industry Creating Pathways to Professional Development
Given their lack of connection with corporate leaders, higher education institutions have work to do to ensure their programming students graduate with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

Strong programmers are desperately needed by employers across organizational sizes and industries, but there is a lack of individuals ready to fill these roles. Colleges and universities have faced challenges in getting students into this space and private corporations are stepping in. This has created pathways for students and professionals across North America to gain these skills, but the international marketplace is still ripe with opportunity for education providers. In this interview, Sarab Atiyat discusses the state of the coding education space today and shares her thoughts on the role private industry can play in supporting the global growth of this skillset.

The EvoLLLution (Evo): Why is it so critical for private companies to take the lead in providing practical educational opportunities for coding professionals?

Sarab Atiyat (SA): Private companies have the potential to become an integral source of providing education within the coding sector of the IT industry in Bangladesh because Bangladesh is currently a hub for outsourcing IT services to a worldwide market.

There is strong support for industries to play a bigger role in improving the employability of graduates, both within and outside the formal curriculum structure. Linkages between universities and industries offering work-based projects and internships can also help higher education institutions acquire valuable information to update their curricula, and students to gain practical work experience. Employers need to facilitate on-the-job training, particularly for specific skills or new applications and technologies.

These interventions will alleviate the unemployment situation in Bangladesh and provide access for citizens to improve their income situation.

Evo: How successful have universities been in providing this type of programming to professionals in this space?

SA: Unfortunately universities have not been able to cover the full spectrum of the education and resources necessary for student coders to enter the global market thus far, primarily due to their various inefficiencies and lack of a business-minded approach.

The concept of employability gives rise to questions such as: Should employability be the primary basis that shapes the direction of universities? Is a university’s purpose to be defined solely by the expectations of employers? It is contentious to argue that the quality of higher education should be measured solely in terms of the employment rate of graduates?

There is no doubt that universities are expected to nurture their students to become responsible, productive and innovative citizens, and by doing so, they will help to develop the desirable factors in their graduates.

The task of producing such graduates does not lie only with the universities but is part and parcel of the entire education system, including the primary, secondary and postsecondary stages.

Education institutions at all levels share the same responsibility in developing current and future generations, as do governments, employers, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations.

With more at stake, students themselves have to take personal responsibility to optimize the opportunities they have in institutes of higher learning and ensure that they leave their institutes as highly sought-after graduates.

Evo: Do you think universities should have a role to play in providing this education, or is it better that private companies are serving this market?

SA: Universities certainly should play an active role in providing this education but a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the role of private corporations as they would not replace but significantly supplement this skill set by providing hands-on work exposure, helping students apply their acquired skills in a more professional setting.

Universities should collaborate with the private sector to improve their curricula to match the needs of the industry by including on-the-job and soft skills training as part of students’ skill development.

Universities need to incorporate thought leadership, research skills, critical thinking, teamwork skills, analytical skills and problem-solving skills in their major courses. These skills will better help university graduates attain and retain employment in the future.

Evo: How do you see the coding education marketplace evolving over time?

SA: The coding education marketplace will see a shift from traditional modes of study and enter an internship-based approach of education with more and more students learning code in an incubation setting or entrepreneurship environment.

Also fully online platforms are offering all levels of coding education to students. The flexibility of learning from home or a coffee shop has proven that mobility requires a great Internet connection and commitment.

In the UK, children as young as five are coding.  At the primary level, coding education helps children to be articulate and think logically: when they start breaking down what’s happening, they can start predicting what’s going to happen. It’s about looking around you almost like an engineer at how things are constructed.

These changes in coding education are evolving from the traditional postsecondary classroom instruction. Changes like these are allowing access to anyone to learn code and participate in the global market.

This interview has been edited for length.

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