A  few weeks ago, a book entitled “La Empresa en España: Objetivo 2020” (Companies in Spain: 2020 Objective) by La Fundación Marqués de Oliva and The Escuela de Organización Industrial (EOI) was published. Key themes within the business community and challenges for coming years were amongst the many topics covered throughout the publication, along with entrepreneurial management, more effective education and, as Fernando Bayón, Dean of EOI states, the “need to bridge the huge gap between the corporate world and higher education”. In this article, we’re going to identify and discuss the cause of this gap, as well as the reasons behind why it appears so hard to reduce.

While approaching this topic, we believe it’s important to ask ourselves the following:

  • What are the main objectives of higher education institutions?
    • Student employability?
    • Research and development?
    • Knowledge generation?
    • Meeting the corporate world’s demand for specific and ever-changing skills sets?  
  • How flexible are educational institutions and how are they organised?
  • How adaptable are universities to new social and corporate demands?
  • How capable are they of changing existing programmes or developing new ones?
  • How flexible are regulations in order to allow these changes?

It appears that there are a number of conflicting factors that need to be considered when determining the direction of an educational institution. For example, if the institution decides to go down the Research and Development or Knowledge Generation path, this requires certain setup and organisational processes that are completely different to those belonging to an institute which wishes to educate students on day-to-day issues and situations in the corporate world. Add a rigid regulation and operational frame to these conflicting factors and you end up with an educational structure with little ability to deliver solid training and develop the skill sets required by companies. Additional relevant factors, such as the emergence of new technologies, digitisation of processes and interfaces, introduction of new learning platforms and the consequent requirement for adoption by the academic community, only exacerbate this duality.

This diagnosis therefore sets the bar for the development of new alternatives and models and gives us an idea as to why the educational sector has been widely identified as the next sunrise sector. The recently named “Ed-Tech” industry will bring, and is already bringing, significant and profound changes to traditional education, of which we will be providing examples in future posts.

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