OVER THE NEXT decade, an estimated 77 per cent of all jobs in the United States will need technical skills, but many educational institutions are not yet graduating enough students with the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills for these jobs, according to International Data Corporation research.
Other countries, including Thailand, are heading down the same path, so it is necessary to combine new technology with modern education.
In Thailand, US-based software giant Infor recently announced a partnership with Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU), marking its first foray into the 10-country Asean grouping.
Through the Infor Education Alliance Programme (EAP), the partnership is aimed at helping the Thai university to develop its students’ technological skill sets.
Dr Pattanant Petchchedchoo, dean of DPU’s College of Innovative Business and Accountancy (CIBA), said the EAP started in January, with about 100 undergraduate students.
For business-school graduates, gaining a successful career is more challenging than before because of the rapid development of technology, so the EAP aims to give an advantage to students by allowing them to learn to use the latest tools in their classrooms.
Students at participating universities have access to specialised software packages, training materials, and customised, hands-on learning experiences using groundbreaking technology that is transforming work for more than 70,000 organisations worldwide.
By developing proficiency using these industry-specific business tools, students and professionals get important skills that will boost their competitiveness in the job market.
Basically, today’s technology helps businesses around the world speed up their work processes and make quicker decisions, and if students could use the same tools in their classes as part of the learning experience, they would have a better chance of getting jobs upon graduation.
Pattanant said sophisticated business software was increasingly crucial to various professions. For example, accounting is becoming more high-tech with the introduction of optical character-recognition technology for scanning receipts and other tax- and accounting-related documents.
As a result, accounting is no longer just a bookkeeping job but accountants need to become data analysts as well as business partners.
In the field of finance jobs, she said, artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing a key role in investment advisory services that require no human interaction.
These examples show that students need to familiarise themselves with new technology early in their university years so that they have a better chance of getting jobs after graduation.
DPU currently offers multiple areas of studies at its CIBA, including accounting, business economics, analytics, business administration, financial technology, digital marketing, digital entrepreneurship, innovative logistics, “human resources 4.0” and international business.
Besides providing students and faculty with access to real-world business tools, the Infor EAP encourages participants to be engaged in critical thinking and problem-solving.
According to Infor, the aim is to give both technology and business students a competitive edge as they pursue career opportunities, and provide an experiential understanding of the interaction among various departments, such as how information technology supports business management, and how business needs define IT projects.
Pattanant said the university had responded to the government’s “Thailand 4.0” modernisation programme with these multiple degree-level courses so as to graduate enough students with the right sets of technical skills.
“The Thailand 4.0 programme is a very good idea, but we need to ensure that we’re ready in terms of human resources and social openness to embrace innovation,” she said.
“Our education system is still designed to teach students to prepare for examinations. In the end, they don’t get wisdom and mostly cannot apply classroom knowledge in real life.
“At CIBA, we’ve shifted to project-based learning for first-year students, who get credits from the actual work created in each of their projects. If you proposed a mini-robot project, you create a mini working robot to get the credits, or if you proposed a drone project, you create a real drone.”