The session, Transitioning from Academics to Corporate: The Post-COVID-19 Scenario, moderated by Galib Bin Mohammad, Head of Marketing, Arla Foods Ltd, discussed how the pandemic has affected students and graduates.
Educationalists Mohammad Baktiar Rana, Associate Professor, Institute of Business Administration, Jahangirnagar University, Md Saimum Hossain, Assistant Professor, Department of Finance, University of Dhaka and Mahboob Rahman, Vice President, Administration, BRAC University were present in the panel discussion, which revealed that there is a mismatched demand and supply demography, in terms of the number of graduates available in the job market, and an absence of skills demanded by employers. In order to bridge this gap, affiliations and collaborations between educationalists and employers are important. Md Saimum Hossain said that critical thinking, communication skills and team-building capacity are three essential skills for any professional employee.
Mohammad Baktiar Rana mentioned that there is a gap between the knowledge offered by job seekers and the soft skills required and expected by employers, in order to balance out their needs without wasting resources like time and energy. While people question the competency of educational institutions in this regard, there are two sides of this coin. "We tend to blame universities for being incompetent in producing creative and skilled professionals. However, we often forget about the bureaucratic system each university must deal with to update their curriculums," shares Rashed Mujib Noman, Country Director of Augmedix (Bangladesh).
Acquiring soft skills is also tough. "Theoretic framework is already facilitated by our educational institutions, but students need to analyse the market needs, especially the latest technologies and applicationw associated with the area of specialisation. This can be done by simply utilising resources that are available online, even for free sometimes," adds Rashed Mujib Noman. "In the fast- changing 21st century, the role of institutes is to educate students on how to learn from available resources. Graduates need to identify their strengths and self-train themselves."
Mahboob Rahman emphasised on the importance of technical skills, especially during the pandemic, as both students and professionals are studying and working from home, respectively. Other such soft skills are also important for recent graduates in order to pursue good jobs or run successful entrepreneurial ventures. "When I was a student, I felt that our curriculum did not put enough focus on technical skills such as the proper use of software like STATA, SPSS, and Excel," mentions Farhana Shahnaz, an Economics graduate from North South University who currently works as a Communications Officer at UNDP. "While my one-dimensional curriculum focused a lot on theoretical knowledge, it failed to address the necessity of practical proficiencies. I adapted to the changes, and I was also keen on upgrading my practical knowledge. As a result, Iwas able to cope up with the job market. However, many of my peers who didn't, are still struggling to find jobs."
Making the transition from the campus to the corporate life might be challenging initially, but if students focus on delving into the real world approaches, they can easily adjust to the new circumstances.