Ethiopian Technical University strengthens Industry-University collaborations for skills development

Ethiopian Technical University strengthens Industry-University collaborations for skills development

By Sahleselassie Teka Tedla

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Universities are recognized as sources of knowledge creation, innovation and technological advances.  Across the globe, they are being positioned as strategic assets in innovation and economic competitiveness, and as problem-solvers for socio-economic issues affecting their countries.

Synergies between higher education institutions and industry can play a critical role in securing and leveraging additional resources for higher education, promoting innovation and technology transfer, and ensuring that graduates have the skills and knowledge required to effectively contribute to the workforce. In this regard university-industry partnership programs are helpful in making companies to be competitive in the market, in expanding employment opportunities for employees, and in expediting communication between employers and training providers.

Trainees in wielding at Ethiopian Technical University

In today′s dynamic working life, people need continuous updating and upgrading of their competence and skills they need lifelong learning. Lifelong learning includes development of operational and strategic capabilities. operational capabilities can be improved through in company and under further training in universities. Strategic capabilities require continuous education, that is a task of universities and other public education providers.

In addition, a focus on training that is responsive to the changing structure of the economy will also enable the re-allocation and adjustment of human resources. This means that existing workers in the cities and rural, in big and small industries, as self-employed or wage employee needs to upgrade their skills to move into alternative jobs, thus helping to alleviate any social & technical difficulties.

From the academic institution’s perspective, there is also a need to focus on being responsive to the needs of the labour market, preparing students for occupations and employment, and combining workplace practice and production with study. In addition, focusing on continuous improvement, that is, combining workplace practice and industrial production with study is a basic tenet of contemporary education. Hence, combining teaching and scientific research to further develop, promote, and apply new technologies in training and in community service is also another perpetual assignment of the universities.

Trainees at ETU during a practical session

In general, there is a need to develop appropriate industry- university partnership strategies to meet the needs of industrialisation, and to accelerate and increase the development of skilled workers to meet these demands of the labour market.

From this point of view, the Ethiopian Technical University as part of the RFTIs has forged a memorandum of understanding with 20 local and international industries to work on the bases of win –win principles. In this case, Industries are expected to participate in identifying training demand, training program, hosting internship students, teachers’ attachment, participating in curriculum development & revision, etc. Conversely, the RFTI has a role of providing short term and long-term industry demanded training to industry technician & TVET teachers, accredit new & revised curriculums on identified occupations by the industry, conducting research and technology transfer to enterprises as some of the responsibilities set out under the joint MoU.

In this respect, from the industry side, there has been an encouraging initiative in hosting the university students to immerse in the industry in a form of hands-on training in the industry and to acquaint with the industrial working environment and culture of the world of work. In addition, this year, more than 12 RFTI teachers were attached to different domestic and multinational corporations that is to fill their skill gap and to keep abreast with the contemporary technologies found in the industries.

From the RFTIs end, 19 short term courses in manufacturing and leather technology were developed based on the demand of the labour market. While identifying the training programme and developing curricula, respective industries and actively participated.

As a result of the newly developed short term training programs accredited by the respective authorities, more than 206 short term trainees from the industry and TVET colleges have been trained and are being certified in different manufacturing occupations such as machine design, material testing, CNC lath machine operation, CNC milling machine operation, welding and training methodologies.

The Writer is the EASTRIP Project Coordinator at Ethiopian Technical University

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