Panellists at the 4th Industry-academia interaction series at the University of Ghana, Legon, have urged universities in the country to liaise with industry in order to produce the needed human resource for the job market.
They said the current situation where graduates could not gain employment after their national service was a disturbing phenomenon and an indication that there was something basically wrong with the way graduates were trained.
The panellists were the Executive Chairman of the MacDan Group of Companies, Mr Daniel McKorley, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Praise Exports Services Ltd, Mr Godwin Adordie, and the Co-Founder and CEO of the Impact Hub, Mr William Senyo.
The event which was part of a week-long celebration of the 70th anniversary of the university, was put together by the Institute of Applied Science and Technology and the School of Engineering Sciences.
The interaction, which was on the theme, “UG @ 70: The new paradigm for industry-academia interface,” was attended by some students and lecturers of the university and some industry players.
Academia and industry working together
Setting the tone for the discussions, the CEO of the Private Enterprises Federation (PEF), Nana Osei Bonsu, who chaired the discussion, noted with concern that the academia and industry were suspicious of each other and was happy that such discussions could lead to closer collaborations.
He said the need for academia and industry to work closely to produce the needed human resources required a great commitment and dedication by both sides.
Nana Bonsu recommended that for the universities to turn out the right kind of skills, there was the need to focus on the creation of incubations, mentorship and secondment programmes into their curricula.
“This is to ensure that students are well-prepared for the industry,” adding that there was the need to foster a closer relation to document success stories of local business that could be used for case study instead of the current situation where lecturers continued to rely on overseas case studies in teaching their students.
Packaging as tool for marketing
Speaking on the sub-topic, “Quality packaging: An effective tool for marketing penetration”, Mr Adordie reminded the students that packaging was a critical part of marketing a product, saying that it was very important in the marketing mix.
He believed that it was one key driver in the marketing of products and that a wrong packaging could render an otherwise quality product unmarketable.
Mr Adordie said information on a package was critical because it conveyed everything that the product contained, stressing that the modern market demanded a lot from producers.
He said for products to be exported onto the European market, the requirement for the packaging was that the information on the packaging should be in at least five different languages, and named them as English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.
The right attitude
Mr McKorley was not happy that such a well-packaged programme could not attract lots of the students and questioned their readiness to compete on the job market.
Mr McKorley urged universities to subject their students to complex problem solving and critical thinking abilities and move away from usual “chew and pour” learning.
Speaking on the topic, “Preparing the students for the job market,” Mr McKorley advised the students to develop the right attitudes and maintain a high level of integrity in order to succeed in the competitive global market.
He was of the opinion that it was not right to always focus on those business models because the model that the Apple used to succeed in Europe would have failed if used in Africa, saying that the dynamics were not the same.
Training specific need
For his part, Mr Senyo asked academia to liaise with businesses to find out the specific skills needed in order to produce graduates who would be ready for the industry.
He was of the opinion that the country’s leadership had failed the youth in meeting their needs.
Mr Senyo called on universities to review their curricula in order to meet the market needs and suggested data-driven education as the way forward.