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Are today’s students adequately prepared for tomorrow’s workplace?

In a short series, StuComm will speak to students, professors and employers in Holland alike to ascertain how educational institutions are preparing their students through internships for the challenges of tomorrow.

The primary reasons for attending university for the majority of students is either to pursue a field of study that they are truly passionate about, or to better prepare themselves for the workplace. For those that are fortunate, it’s a combination of the two.

Whilst few can doubt the importance of academic study, given the sheer volume of students now attending university, it is equally important that they have genuine skills that will allow them to excel in the workplace.

There is a growing feeling amongst students, staff and employers, that students lack the hard and soft skills to allow them to excel after graduating. Conversely, there is also growing belief that employers are holding students back, giving them roles that fail to make the most of their talents.

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There has been a seismic shift in the type of opportunities available to today’s graduates in recent times. The internet has changed the workplace beyond recognition across many industries, however this is just the start. This is perhaps best summarised by the author Yuval Noah Harari, in his latest book 21 Questions for the 21st Century.

“The big challenges of the 21st century will be global in nature. What will happen when climate change triggers ecological catastrophe? What will happen when computers outperform humans in more and more tasks, and replace them in an increasing number of jobs? What will happen when biotechnology enables us to upgrade humans and extend there lifespans?” Whilst the answers to these questions remains unclear, we can be certain that the changes and disruption to the workplace we’ve seen since the early 1990s, are only going to increase over the coming decades.

Many universities can trace their roots back long before many governments and far beyond the birth of most companies. For good reason in the past they have been slow to change and it has rightly noted as one of their strengths. However, these are different times. Like all of us they must adapt to the present moment. Given the pace of the change expected for the years ahead it is vital that universities lead the charge, and continue to evolve what and how they teach. Only then, will they truly prepare their students for the huge permutations ahead.

The next article of the short series will be published soon. In these series we address topics such as how many internship opportunities are available to students, whether or not they are paid, if the opportunities bare any relevance to their course, and whether they felt motivated in these roles.