Closing the gap between education and industry

By: Together Abroad 11-03-2014

Categories:Business news, Education news,

Education should be a hotbed for innovative and ambitious enterprise. All too often entrepreneurs who are still in college or students who want to branch out into enterprise are frustrated by practical restrictions. The government wishes to remove these restrictions and close the gap between education and enterprise.

Linking education to the needs of enterprise
Until a few decades ago, pupils and students trained to work for a company. Now 1 in 8 people working in the Netherlands is an entrepreneur. The government aims to link education to the needs of enterprise:

Incorporating entrepreneurship in the curriculum;
Removing practical restrictions for students running their own business;
Enabling start-ups and established SMEs to make better use of available expertise.
Teaching entrepreneurship
Start-up companies are likely to be more successful if they have enough 'entrepreneurial skills', including an insight in the market and negotiating skills. Students will be more likely to start a business if they are introduced to entrepreneurship during their study.

The government stimulates educational institutions to incorporate 'entrepreneurial skills' in their curriculum. This could involve students setting up a student business, being taught by a host lecturer working in the industry, or being encouraged to undertake a work placement.

Abolishing restrictions for students running their own business
Educational institutions should adjust their curriculums so that it becomes possible to combine education with building a successful business. For instance by allowing students to graduate while running their own company. Financial restrictions must also be removed. Under the current system, students who run a successful business earn too much to qualify for a student grant. The government has therefore decided to no longer calculate income from business profit in the year of graduation.

Enabling business to make better use of expertise available at universities
The government wants both start-ups and established SMEs to make better use of the knowledge available at universities. It has provided funds to Erasmus University, Groningen University and Radboud University/HAN to better align education to the needs of industry. The funds are used to teach students how to set up their own company and to help researchers translate their scientific expertise into products and services that are attractive to the (Dutch) market.

Train students to become qualified professionals
More than 30% of the workforce in the Netherlands is trained at higher education level. Yet there is a shortage of qualified staff in some industries. There is a need for more science graduates, for instance.

To address the situation, the government is taking the following steps:
• Imposing a stricter study regime;
• Closing the gap between education and the labour market;
• Encouraging collaboration with top sectors.

Stricter study regime
The government wants better education for students to prepare them for the labour market. It is planning radical changes for higher education (higher vocational colleges and universities). Studies will be more tightly regulated, with a greater selection of students and education geared towards the needs of industry. Changes will also be made in professional training. Professional training institutes, the government and scientists are drawing up qualification documents that specify for each profession the skills the graduates must have.

Closing the gap between education and the labour market
The curriculum and exams must be geared towards the demands of the industry. Businesses also play a role in improving education. For instance by offering work placements and student grants.

Collaboration with top sectors
Businesses and knowledge institutions that operate in the top sectors are invited to list deficiencies and consider exchange programmes between schools and businesses or ways to adjust education to the needs of industry. They have also been invited to draw up a master plan to attract more students to science.