Academia, industry urged to collaborate - Sowa, Dr Narh provide context
The Director, Sales and Marketing, Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Franklin Sowa, has called for greater collaboration between academia and industry in the area of training and building capacity for the marketing and advertising sector for their mutual benefit.
Mr Sowa said the disconnect that existed between training and practice made it imperative for such collaboration.
He was speaking at the sixth edition of the International Advertising Association (IAA) Africa Rising Leadership Conference in Accra last Tuesday
He made the call during a panel discussion on the sub-theme: 'Living the reality from the lecture hall to the work field: building the partnership.'
The panel, moderated by the General Manager of Citi FM and CitiTV, Benard Avle, also had the Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Brands and Communications (MABC) at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), Dr Linda Narh, who also made a call for partnership between academia and industry.
Mr Sowa said although industry and academia had different needs, they must work together to bridge the gap.
He called for the development of specific industry-informed courses such as digital marketing, and courses relating to the tourism industry and politics.
"We have to build specific skill sets.
Let us identify the opportunities in the various sectors and apply the knowledge from the classroom," he said.
He said marketing and advertising professionals must identify and understand “what people need and also communicate in simple language for better appreciation of the products or services they sell”.
Mr Sowa said marketing was evolving and students needed to "not just know what their lecturers teach them but the full application of the knowledge they have gained".
The Coordinator of MABC of UPSA emphasised the need for collaboration and urged industries to partner with academia for research and also take advantage of research outcomes.
Dr Narh said while academia and industry partnered, they must look at the specific roles they played.
Academia, she said, generated knowledge while industry applied the knowledge.
Academia and industry, Dr Narh added, must partner on how to train the next generation and offer opportunities for students to learn from experts through internship programmes.
When relevant research was leveraged, she said, it would promote innovation.
She indicated that mostly what students were thought in the classrooms was different from work on in the field.
" There has to be a link between what is done in industry and what is taught in the classroom,” she said.
She said academia must know the needs of industry to meet them.
"At UPSA, we focus on what the industry needs.
Our students do not write long essays as their project work but they conduct brand audit and apply the theory by identifying a problem and helping a company to solve it," Dr Narh, who has extensive practical experience in marketing and public relations working with multiple private sector companies, said.
She said since she started learning her marketing profession from the field after a first degree in English Language and Sociology when she joined Lintax for her national service, "I could easily relate to the things that were taught in the classroom."
Industry, she added, offered the opportunity for students and professionals to learn and make mistakes.