Industry Dares Varsities on Practical Knowledge
Employers have challenged institutions of higher learning to not only focus on theory but practical skills so that they produce highly skilled professionals Malawi needs now to beef up the workforce for the much-touted transformation.
This was said in Lilongwe at the start of a 3-day-Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) NRC Curriculum Review Workshop where some employers decried the lack of practical knowledge from the fresh graduates.
One of the directors at Malawi Mangoes Ignatius Majamanda for instance told us they spend more resources to provide refresher courses to graduates to prepare them for work.
“Sometimes you get graduates with gaps in leadership, management, and financial skills. Even in their areas of expertise, you find that they don’t have the needed practical skills for the industry.
When they come in, they still need to be mentored to become the managers we need for the industry.” Said Majamanda
He underscored the need for industries to give feedback to Universities so that they sharpen their curriculum.
Crops officers at Karonga Agricultural Development Division (ADD) Enock Mzembe concurred with Majamanda.
“There are challenges that we observe, you find that they do not have adequate skills for instance if you give them assignments on production estimates you find that they do not have the full knowledge of the methodology that we use.
They also lack confidence sometimes to face farmers when you send them to conduct demonstrations in the field.”
He suggested the need for a platform where employers and learning institutions could interface for a sound workforce.
“We do not have a formal forum where we could give each other feedback on what we expect and what we get. We need to improve in terms of talking so that we give each other feedback because we are the end-users of the graduates that they are producing.” Said Mzembe.
LUANAR Vice-Chancellor Professor Emmanuel Kaunda told us they are currently engaging stakeholders to identify areas that need improvement as they review their curriculum.
He said Universities need to frequently evaluate their curriculum.
“After a circle of students that have passed through a programme the curriculum needs to be interrogated because of their changes in the environment, the economic world etcetera so we have to interrogate to say is the curriculum still relevant?”
Every year, institutions of higher learning both private and public release fresh graduates to join the employment sector in the country.