May 18, 2024
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Embrace Technology In Education For The Changing Job Market

By Dr meka Akaezuwa

Without doubt, advancement in technology has made a significant impact in the workplace. Businesses would not function without high speed Internet, smartphones, tablets, office productivity suites, electronic money transfer, email and the World Wide Web.

The impact of technology in the workplace ranges from the tools we use to collaborate, communicate and connect with others to the tools we use to connect buyers with goods.

In a word, advanced technology in the workplace has made business processes highly integrated and more streamlined. The cumulative effect of this is the dramatic improvement in productivity within the workspace and across the globe.

Not long ago, companies drowned in paperwork and because the process was manual and inefficient, the data needed to make critical decisions was not available. Today, with document automation and powerful search engines, it is easy to find any data in a split second, regardless of how large the dataset. Not long ago, it was not possible to hold geographically dispersed meetings without everyone travelling to a central location.

Today, technologies such as Skype, Goto Meeting, etc, make meetings of any nature easier and possible and with a much reduced travel expenses budget. With advanced technology, what used to take hours now lasts only a few minutes. Here are some advanced technologies that impact the workplace:

Process Automation

There are two types of process automation – Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Automation (BPM). RPA automates tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming. BPM is the automation of end-to-end business processes. Automation impacts the workplace by increasing efficiency, reducing human error and lowering operational costs. It enables enterprises by allowing employees to focus on high-value functions, such as strategic decision-making and creative problem-solving.

Communication Technology

Communication technology allows the rapid sharing of information either within an organisation or with business partners and customers. Smartphones, social networking sites and other communication applications have enabled faster dialogue among employees, management, customers, suppliers and distributors. By enabling faster transmission, clarification and use of information, decisions are made faster and business transactions are completed at a faster rate.

Cloud Technology

The cost of storing the huge amount of data that the use of advanced technology in the workplace can generate is high if the traditional approach of in-house data storage is utilised. Cloud computing, the outsourcing of an organisation’s technical infrastructure to the cloud, reduces the cost of data storage and access.

Cloud platforms are designed to shift workspaces into the global village, increase remote access to data and applications and ensure security and reliability for the enterprise.

More Productivity

Contemporary businesses would not be as effective and efficient today if they were still using pen and paper. Office suites or productivity software provide the advanced tools that enterprises need to create, edit and share documents easily and in digital form. It enables workers to more easily collaborate on projects, document creation and track progress in real time.

Students should adopt an interactive mode of learning to prepare for changing times

Keeping Business Secure

At the heart of contemporary businesses is the businesses intellectual property, their business plans, product designs and other important data.

Safeguarding these is one of the most important things a company can do and technology plays a vital part in doing so. Advanced technology provides hardware and software-based data encryption and it also provided end-to-end data encryption to keep data safe from prying eyes.

Time Management

Poor time management and efficiency and high productivity do not work well together. Time management is important because poor time management causes deadlines to be missed, leading to poor output.

Advanced technology in the form of project management software has made time management easier. Project management tools help employees to optimise their time, track tasks and timelines and focus on the most important tasks. Time management tools help in increasing the efficiency of the employees by allowing them to meet the deadlines.

What Should Be Done?

The use of advanced technologies in the workplace requires people with a new type of skill sets: the ability to be flexible; ability to read, write and, most importantly, problem solve and make decisions from data. We have also seen that with advanced technologies, jobs will become less routine and emphasis will be placed on those who are adept with technology and with human skills and demonstrate advanced expertise.

As we look towards the near future, we see advances in artificial intelligence-driven technologies being integrated increasingly into factories and businesses.

Robotics and machine-learning are also here and, together, they will increase the range and amount of work that can be done by smart machines. With advanced technology enabling remote workers, people are no longer limited to looking for jobs in their immediate environment, they can use the internet to find remote jobs or positions available to freelancers from anywhere.

Universities can help students to prepare for this brave new world by moving away from a traditional education that prepares students for the industrial age that is bygone, to transitioning to the new age. Universities can do this by changing what they teach and how they teach.

Transition to the New Age

Training for the present and for the future universities must be future-focused. A review of what most universities teach seem to be out of touch with the requirements of modern day society. When revising curricular, universities must ensure that students will learn the skills needed to communicate well, have the confidence and skills to design and use the new tools for communicating, collaborating, securing data, analysing and interpreting data.

Universities should teach the skills and problem-solving ability needed for the jobs of today and for the future. Teaching should use multiple techniques to inculcate creativity, passion, experience, expertise and skill sets needed for the job market.

Rote learning, cramming and dictating to students will not produce innovators and competent operators of the advanced technology used in industry. Companies are seeking graduates with problem-solving ability and task performance competencies, not students who can regurgitate irrelevant facts.

Value Practical Skills

 Universities should place strong emphasis on practical skills by incorporating practical work into the curricular and by changing the grading system to reflect the importance of practical. Currently, the 70/30 or 60/40 grading system favours theory rather than practicals. This should be reversed so that practicals take 70% or 60% of the marks. As is abundantly clear, the traditional grading system, where emphasis is placed on theory, has not worked well and will not prepare students for the current or future job market.

Multi-Disciplinary Studies

Universities should introduce multi-disciplinary, multi-skill education to accommodate the changing demand of the times. Today, teaching and learning should be about teamwork, it should be about blending technology with business, blending business with technology, with law, engineering and design. A blended, multi-disciplinary teaching creates better thinking students.

 Lifelong Learning

One of the defining characteristics of advanced technology is rapid change. The rate at which technology changes is so rapid that the only way to cope is through continuous learning. Universities must emphasise to students that what they are currently learning may be rendered irrelevant before they graduate and that to stay relevant, they must continue to learn through the numerous resources available on the web — through massive online open catalogues or other relevant sources.

It is only by moving away from an old-fashioned traditional approach to teaching to a more relevant, interactive mode of learning that our universities can prepare our students for the change that is taking place and will continue to take place.

The writer is the vice- chancellor of the International University of East Africa.

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