Dr Richard Amponsah, Managing Director, Accra Compost and Recycling Plant, has called for strong partnership between academia and industry to facilitate the transfer of expertise and research findings.
He said considering the challenges and the lack of synergy between academia and industry, there would be the need for the latter to adopt a strategic stance because such moves make the institution ensure timely and effective development of higher education.
He explained that such collaborations would also enable the universities to focus on strategic areas challenging educational development.
Rev Dr Amponsah made these remarks in his keynote address at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), School of Graduate Studies (SOGS), 2017 Strategic Leadership Colloquium; on the theme Bridging the Gap between Academia and Industry: The Role of a Strategic Leader.
Rev Dr Amponsah said higher educational institutions needed to develop programmes that met the needs of students.
He noted that there was a huge gap between what was being taught in the universities and what industry actually needed in terms of professional skills and talents; adding that there was the need for more practical and less theoretical teaching in the nation’s universities.
We should begin to see universities as start-up incubators. For example a group of students doing their senior design project could be given an intellectual property of the university and start a company around it under the auspices of the university, he said.
The university has a good infrastructure and could also offer faculty supervision, which would be helpful if the professors have strong real world experience.
Everyone benefits from relationship like this. If the start-up is successful, jobs are created and income is generated for school.
The reputation of the university is enhanced and ongoing synergy between the school and business is created, he added.
The Managing Director recommended that engineering students at the undergraduate levels had to be introduced to project management and operational management courses in order to prepare them for the job market.
He said there was the need for government to grant the needed support for institutions of higher learning in terms of funding and providing an enabling environment for them as well as projects to grow.
He said government had the duty to formulate clear policy directions that guided the operations of institutions of higher learning.
On short-term internship, which was a component of many higher education degree programmes, Rev Dr Amponsah said: On the face of it, it seems like a great idea; get students out into companies for some practical experience. But the observation is that, the system has degraded badly. It has become such an ordinary and automatic requirement that few give it the attention it deserves.
From the academic point of view it is merely a requirement that must be met. From the industry side it is a tolerated one place disruption, he said.
On the solution to the problem, he explained that the mold needed to be broken and more cooperative approach established between business and academia; by elevating the importance of internship and the amount of time invested in them.
Professor Goski Alabi, Dean, Centre for International Education and Collaboration, UPSA, who was the brain behind the Strategic Leadership Colloquium, said the Strategic Leadership Concept believes in the philosophy that whatever you are learning should be applicable in life.
She said it was based on the simple principle that leaders, in particular strategic leaders had the ability to create values that went beyond the myth of today to meet the future needs and aspirations of the people.
She said one of Africa’s biggest problems was the lack of strategic leadership; stating that Africa was in dire need of strategic leadership.
Prof Charles Barnor, the Pro-Vice Chancellor, UPSA, said what distinguished the UPSA was their ability to look just beyond the classroom level by ensuring that their students were introduced to industry.