The dialogue between schools and companies



The Chinese government has recently decided to tackle the issue of youth unemployment: all academic courses where 60% of graduates have not found employment for two consecutive years will be cut. This apparently pragmatic choice is very controversial because it may cut disciplines that are currently not adequately represented by market demand, but may be crucial to the future of the country. Potential innovators may choose to abandon avenues that are currently impervious but offer substantial rewards in the long run; others may opt to emigrate elsewhere to pursue these opportunities.

This policy raises the broader issue of bridging the “gap between education and employment”, and how difficult it is to find employment. The latest Almalaurea report reveals that in Italy, the unemployment rate among students graduating in 2009 was about 17%. This level is quite high given the substantial economic investment made by families. There are several reasons for this outcome. The current economic climate is only partly responsible.

Companies should promote opportunities for interacting with students to ensure that academic skills meet the demands of the job market. Universities should offer short, intensive in-company training and managers should offer advice to students on all courses, not just MBAs and those geared to corporate employment.

This should be a reciprocal exchange: schools should consider the requirements of companies, and vice versa. It is essential to ensure that the short time spent studying prepares future graduates to meet the demands of the job market.