Training must respond to industry needs

HARARE - Over the years, our system of education followed that of former colonial master Britain by aiming to produce graduates geared for white-collar jobs in commerce and industry.

However, this trajectory had to change to suit the country’s contemporary demands. This saw the adoption of the Competence-Based Education and Training (CBET) in most of the country’s institutions of Higher Learning.

This addressed the problem at a higher level and the foundation — primary and secondary education were left out, leading to the designing and subsequent implementation of the new curriculum in the country’s schools, albeit with a lot of resistance from parents and other stakeholders.

The success of the CBET model may perhaps only be successful if the source of tertiary institution learners — primary and secondary schools — prepare prospective university and college students with appropriate grounding that will ensure their progress in higher learning institutions is not hampered by the lack of such practical skills and knowledge.

University of Zimbabwe acting Vice Chancellor Paul Mapfumo last week bemoaned this gap, saying universities and other tertiary institutions must strive to produce graduates who can demonstrate real value to industry, commerce and the wider community.

This, in fact, is true but it calls for greater synergies between learning institutions and industry. In other words, industry must be involved in the formulation of the different curricula in training institutions because they know the kind of graduate they would want to absorb.

The same would apply to those who would what to venture into entrepreneurship; they still have to be conversant with the needs of the market.

Therefore, graduates must not only regurgitate theoretical knowledge acquired during their learning years but the skills and knowledge thus acquired must not only have relevance but must also respond to the needs of their communities.

That way, graduates will become vital cogs in pursuit of national objectives.

Armed with the requisite skills and knowledge, the graduates are better-placed to fit in the country’s developmental agenda without any difficulty.

As tertiary institutions try to pursue these objectives, therefore, there is need to foster greater co-operation with industry and commerce both in the design and actual training of learners so that when they emerge from university or college, they are well-rounded individuals who can be useful in the achievement of the country’s objectives.

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