Centered on the findings of British Council research commissioned through the Economist Intelligence Unit on the South Asia Paradox of "High university enrolment, low graduate employment", the discussion highlighted how industry and higher education could collaborate to create supportive policy infrastructure to enhance employability in graduates to meet the fast-growing needs of South Asian economies.
Regular revision of curriculum based on market needs, investment in training teachers, stronger accreditation frameworks, regulation and monitoring are some of the recommendations of the report.
Despite increasing opportunities for higher education, levels of unemployment remain high among recent graduates.
A study of 40,000 technical graduates in India found that in high growth sectors such as business process outsourcing (BPO), employability was only 38.2 %. Scenarios such as this indicate a disconnect between industry expectations and what higher education institutions offer and require innovative approaches to skill development.
Report findings reiterate low quality of education, lack of focus on developing English language and soft skills as some of the causes for this gap.
The Report recommended compulsory internships and mechanisms to facilitate transition between classroom and workplace, more focus on case studies, presentations and analytical assignments and less importance on 'final exams' and rote-learning were some of the other approaches needed for skill development to address 'employability' concerns.
Speaking on the occasion, Rob Lynes, Director, India, British Council, said: "Workforce capability is of strategic importance to social mobility, growth and economic progress. Globally, 'employability' has become a key benchmark to rate the success of higher education institutions.
"The Global Education Dialogue is the perfect platform for diverse stakeholders to discuss critical issues, share innovative practices, and create a roadmap that will help universities prepare graduates for opportunities in an increasingly globalised world."
Deliberations and work-group discussions between senior policy makers, vice chancellors, employers, national agencies, learners and educational visionaries from across UK, Asia and the Middle East, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan sought holistic solutions to develop action plans to meet specific challenges.
The Global Education Dialogue concluded with a fresh look at approaches to knowledge acquisitions, paved the way for developing relationships between diverse stakeholders - governments, businesses, students and universities - across South Asia; besides laying out the next steps to address all the issues.
--IBNS (Posted on 10-01-2014)