The Vice-Chancellor, of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, has underscored the commitment of the University to preparing graduates for the evolving 21st Century workplace. Professor (Mrs.) Rita Akosua Dickson made this affirmation during the 10th KNUST Summer School held from 2nd to 5th October, 2023 on the theme “Academia-Industry Partnership for National Development.”
Professor (Mrs.) Dickson stressed the need for alignment between academia, research, and industry expectations. She underlined the goal of enhancing collaboration between educational institutions and the industrial sector, leading to improved learning outcomes for economic development. She expressed the hope that the various themes that would be discussed in various sessions for Senior Members, Senior Staff, and Junior Staff would inspire the various Units and Colleges of the University to better prepare graduates, bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical skills, and cultivate stronger relationships with industry.
Professor Jerry John Kponyo, the Dean of the Quality Assurance and Planning Office (QAPO), emphasised the importance of fostering connections between academia and industry in an ever-changing world. He outlined the University’s goal to establish mutually beneficial relationships between industry, address industry concerns regarding student education through feedback, and potentially enhance the curriculum and teaching methods. The primary focus is on improving curriculum delivery, instructional strategies, training innovators, and promoting collaboration between academia and industry.
The collaborative endeavour which the University seeks aims to address the skills gap, stimulate research and innovation, refine the University’s curriculum, and create opportunities for lifelong learning, internships, employment, and economic development. Professor Kponyo encouraged all stakeholders to actively participate to help in shaping the future of education to produce graduates well-prepared for industry demands.
Mrs. Constance E. Swaniker, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of Accents and Arts, engaged the audience on “University-Industry Partnership for Practical Training.” She shared her personal journey from being an art student to becoming a successful entrepreneur in a male-dominated field. Mrs. Swaniker reiterated the need for universities to produce graduates equipped with both academic knowledge and soft skills. She advocated for curriculum development that focuses on bridging the gap between academia and industry and formal discussions with the government to propose strategies that would help bridge the gap between academia and industry.
Addressing “Policies and Interventions to Support Training Industry-Ready Graduates Amidst a Large Student Population,” Professor Ernest Aryeetey, the Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, stressed the challenges graduates face in finding jobs and emphasised the need for readiness for both graduates and industries. Prof. Aryeetey recommended innovative teaching methods, meaningful collaboration with industry, and expanding the horizons of industry beyond the local market to help the University produce industry-ready graduates for the expanded markets.
In a related development, a panel discussion featuring Dr. (Mrs.) Delese Mimi Darko, CEO of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana, Mrs. Hawah Braimah from the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Professor Aryeetey, and Mrs. Swaniker explored topics such as industry support for academia, encouraging internships, bridging the academia-industry gap, and entrepreneurial advancements.