Education

Here is a new way by which industry and academia seek to bridge the skill gap

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi  

Recently, LIBA made it mandatory that its staff take up a 15-day internship every year.

At the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES), when the academic year is still fresh, the 500-odd faculty would draw up a rather unusual timetable, one in which they would be the students. These are “students” with just the lone privilege of deciding when to take up the “studies”.

The lessons would not be classroom-oriented, but delivered on-the-job. This is how it works: The faculty would be interns for 15 days at any of the companies that UPES has tied up with. Called ‘Project Abhigyat’, this annual internship programme was started in 2015 with the objective of giving UPES faculty members some industry exposure.

Such exposure is expected to help the faculty present to their students a more realistic picture of what the industry needs, the newer developments out there, and what it takes to be effective in the new roles that have been necessitated by these developments.

“Every year, we ensure that a few more companies are added so that the faculty have a wider choice,” says Arpit Jain, assistant professor, Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department, School of Engineering, UPES, who co-ordinates Project Abhigyat. In 2018, around 100 faculty members went to 60 organisations for Project Abhigyat.

Jain says this internship programme helps the faculty design a curriculum that is more relevant to industry needs. Every teacher has to present their learnings in such a manner that the academic council that reviews the syllabus every year incorporates them.

In December, Agna Fernandez, who is associate professor of Human Resources at Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), will be interning with an automobile major in Pune.

“I told the company that I was keen on learning more about contemporary HR practices relating to the shop floor,” says Agna who has 20-plus years of teaching, consulting and industry experience behind her.

Recently, LIBA made it mandatory that its staff take up a 15-day internship every year. The choice of the industry is left to the faculty. They could also let the LIBA management make a choice on their behalf.

Following the internship, the faculty should submit a dissertation. “We have 32 full-time faculty members and many of them come with industry experience. But they have to be up to date with industry trends to be effective in their role as teachers, and hence this programme,” says Father C. Joe Arun, director, LIBA.

The faculty at LIBA are free to split the internship or take it up at one go when the students go for their summer internship. “Post-internship, the faculty is encouraged to stay connected with the company, and to even conduct a management development programme for them,” says Father Arun.

Companies that are partnering with colleges for faculty internships believe such exercises would be more fruitful if the educational institution would allow longer internships, say for three to four months, so that faculty members would even get to work on a live project.

 

How about an internship, mid-career?

Minternship or mid-career internship is common in the West. In India, it is beginning to make its presence felt. 

Around two years ago, when Internshala launched an internship programme for women, primarily aimed at those in their mid-career and are seeking to return to work after a career break, the response to it was encouraging. 

In a blog post, homemaker Vidya Amar shares that she landed an internship with a startup after a career break lasting more than a decade. 

The software engineer got to work for three months on an Android development platform. 

According to Internshala, age is not the major criterion for companies when they are looking for suitable talent. Over 50% of the organisations registered on Internshala are open to hiring candidates in the 35-to-45 age group, provided they have the right skillsets. 

Suchismita Sanyal, a member of the Society of Women Engineers, says companies today are more open to flexible work options and internship is one of those. 

She adds that many companies are willing to break out of the traditional hiring process when internships can serve the purpose very well. 

 

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 7:49:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/here-is-a-new-way-by-which-industry-and-academia-seek-to-bridge-the-skill-gap/article29774592.ece

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