Educators ‘going back to school’

On site tour: Tio (right) briefing UUM Prof Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Mustafa Ishak and his academic staff on the operations at PKT’s Warehouse.

PETALING JAYA: Educators are now ‘going back to school’.

From May, public varsity lecturers will be sent to various companies, including technology-driven organisations, for industry exposure.

And they will be trained by the chief executive officers (CEO) themselves.

This is so they can experience “disruptive technology” - advances that displace an established technology or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry - in the real world.

This is the second phase of the Higher Education Ministry’s CEO@Faculty programme which started with CEO@Faculty 1.0 where industry movers and shakers conducted lectures at public universities.

CEO@Faculty 1.0 is an industry-academia collaboration introduced with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Edu­cation) to reduce the mismatch in supply and demand between employers and fresh graduates.

Under CEO@Faculty 2.0, corporate leaders are to mentor lecturers as part of the ‘Coached by the Pros’ pilot project.

In two months’ time, 10 CEOs will guide 30 selected lecturers for six months to a year.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh told Sunday Star that a 30% target was set for all public university lecturers to either have industry experience, or come from the industry.

There are presently 17,081 women and 14,796 men who are lecturing in public varsities.

This project will give an extra dimension to the students’ higher education experience.

“Beyond relevant curriculum, programmes and internships for students, we’re also making sure our teaching staff is able to prepare students for disruptive technology.”

The move is part of the ministry’s efforts to evolve higher education in tandem with disruptive technologies.

Disruptive technologies leverage on digital technology advancements, revolutionising the global higher education sector, Idris said.

Through research and courses, graduates and lecturers are equipped for the challenge of disruptive technologies in fields like Internet of Things (IoT), cyber-security, big data, cloud, mobile internet, advanced robotics, next-generation genomics, energy storage, 3D printing, advanced oil and gas exploration, and renewable energy.

“We’re redesigning higher education to address disruptive technologies. We’ve to stay relevant and com­­petitive by providing graduates with the exposure, curriculum and experiences that are relevant to the workforce. We want to produce graduates who view themselves not only as job seekers, but as job creators,” said Idris.

The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is in “full support” of exposing educators to the industry.

Its CEO Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said talents must be kept abreast with the latest trends and innovations.

“It’s crucial that our teachers and lecturers are armed with the knowledge and practical skills required to guide students in this rapidly-changing sector,” she said.

PKT Logistics group CEO and ma­­naging director Datuk Michael Tio, who participated in the CEO@Faculty 1.0 programme, hopes to be part of this second phase.

He said phase one focussed on the students but it was time to give attention to the lecturers now because they were the ones who would follow up in grooming the young minds.

Tio, who is an adjunct professor at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), said lecturers below 40 and with doctorate qualifications would be selected as mentors.

“When I give lectures, I reach 2,000 students. But, when I mentor a lecturer, he or she can train many more. If I’m selected to be part of this second phase, I’ll not only share my knowledge on logistics, but also on leadership, soft skills and company culture. Lecturers must know how corporate people think and get things done.”

OpenLearning CEO Adam Brimo said the ministry’s leadership in policy had turned Malaysia into an education hub.

Brimo said it was important for the industry to be involved in higher education so that students were exposed to the latest technologies, theories and practices, while still in university.

National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom) chairman Chin Chee Seong said the effort was a good way to address the industry’s skills gap.

“The best way to learn and teach is by possessing practical knowledge and seeing how disruptive technology is applied in reality. But the success of this initiative would depend on the length of the on-site stint, and the relevance of the experience to the courses taught.”

Also welcoming CEO@Faculty 2.0, Malaysian Employers Federa­tion (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said it would let lecturers see for themselves how disruptive technology robbed conventional skills and jobs of their relevance.

“After the industry stint, lecturers can convey their experience to students, stressing on the importance of creativity and innovation for tomorrow’s workforce.”

On Feb 23, MEF warned that the introduction of disruptive technology in a weak economy would result in more people getting axed from their jobs this year due to the current economic challenges.

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