The Third Edition of CII National Higher Education Conclave was held in Coimbatore at Hotel Le Meridien, 01 – 02 December 2017. The theme of the conference “Transformation in Higher Education” was exhaustively detailed out with highly engaging presentations and panel discussions. The speakers from the industry, the academia and the government deliberated on sub-themes like Leadership and Management, Ranking, Accreditation and Autonomy, Industry- Institute Interaction, Employability, Leveraging Technology, Faculty Development, Institutional Branding and Skill Development. The 2-Day event saw active participation from more than 300 participants, with a majority of them representing various educational institutions. Mr Sunil Paliwal IAS, Principal Secretary – Higher Education, Government of Tamil Nadu delivered the inaugural address.
The importance of skills in general, mainstream education emerged as a key issue in making students employable. In this context the role of the industry becomes critical in working closely with the higher educational institutions for continuous interactions to keep the faculty and students informed about new job roles and the fast changing job market. One of the recurring themes was the future of jobs in the backdrop of latest developments in technology such as Automation, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things.
Many of the implications of industry 4.0 on emerging jobs roles and the opporutnities and challenges in skilling were elaborated in the presentation by Dr Sandhya Chintala, Vice President, NASSCOM and Executive Director IT and ITeS Sector Skill Council. She emphasised on the need for re-skilling for existing employees and discussed about how the world of work is changing fast in the IT and ITeS sector.
In a session dedicated to Skill Development, the presentations from Dr Pravin Dange, Head – Academics, Symbiosis International University, Shantanu Rooj, Founder CEO, SchoolGuru Eduserve Pvt Ltd and Dr. Madhuri Dubey, Founder, National Skill Network, brought out many aspects of skill development, career paths, employability and industry-readiness of students. The moderator of the session Prof S Balasubramanian, Chief Mentor, GRG Institute of Management Studies, raised interesting points and shared observations about the notion of skills in the organized and unorganized sector and why it is limited to perceptions of manual entry-level jobs.
Dr Pravin shared insights on developing skills of students and the need of training generic skills that can help the students in career growth. Mr. Shantanu placed the need for technology-enabled interventions in preparing students for jobs through online and digital learning and assessments through strategic partnerships with universities. Dr. Madhuri Dubey placed the need for appreciating the vocational element in skilling and why education has to look beyond conventional forms of employment, besides creating an ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship. She also spoke about how teachers can play a critical role in making students employable through continuous engagement with the industry.
The participants raised important questions about the role of the industry in taking initiatives for teacher development, research and employability of students.