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Panellists’ at SATN

The second day of the South African Technology Network (SATN) International Conference, held at Elangeni Hotel in Durban, had robust engagements on the importance of collaboration between industries and universities.

The three-day conference began on Tuesday, 11 September and will end on Thursday, 13 September. With each day having its own theme, day two of the conference was held under the topic, “University Industry Partnerships in the Changing World of Work.”

Speaking during a morning panel discussion session, the Managing Director of Aashumi Chemicals in India, Sandeep Vakharia demanded more industry representation in critical issues relating to the 4th industrial revolution.

“The industry must be invited to have more interactions with the universities and students. In fact, the students should be exposed to them earlier in their studies in universities. If we are to improve the higher education system, the government, industries and academics must work together for the benefit of the students,” said Vakharia.

Sampan Silapanad, the Vice-President of Western Digital Corporation in Thailand, a company which has trained over 285 students from 34 countries through their cooperative education programme, said people must adapt to modern ways of doing things.

“The people have to change in an organisation from old smart to new smart. The old culture way has to change to the new culture way. Instead of competing, we need to collaborate,” said Silapanad.

The second panel discussion session of the day was chaired by Prof Ronald Quincy from Rutgers- State University of New Jersey (United States) and included key conversations on the challenges between industry and university technology partnerships.

According to Gavin Rajah, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, developing individuals with a high set of skills should be the main priority.

“For us to approach the 4th industrial revolution where everyone has to deliver, we must be skillful. Universities have to be financially viable too.  For us to be competitive in the STEM areas, we must look at what we are producing as a country. If we don’t train the kids to dream big and become entrepreneurs, then we are not doing anything,” said Rajah.

Dr Raymond Patel, the Chief Executive Officer of Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (merSETA) said Universities of Technologies (UoTs) and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges, must prepare students for the jobs of the future.

“Firstly, we need to acknowledge that there is no alignment between the initiatives of the government and that of the industry. If the input is incorrect, the output will remain bad. We need people who can move and think quicker,” said Dr Patel.

In wrapping up his presentation, Dr Patel further said the methods of teaching should also improve, in order to achieve better results.

Pictured: Panellists’ having a conversation during the South African Technology Network (SATN) International Conference.

Sandile Lukhozi

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