Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Academics are out of step with the industry

Richard Kottler

A recent situation has left me considering if our higher education colleges are losing their grip on reality.

At the risk of sounding like one those people who start letters to newspapers with ‘Am I alone in thinking?’, a recent situation has left me considering if our higher education colleges are losing their grip on reality.

Those of us who actively want to assist colleges to produce graduates who are commercially savvy as well as brilliant at design or technical innovation are finding it increasingly hard to connect with the academics.

The British Footwear Association (BFA) is about to launch a major project for technical trainees to counteract the acute skills shortage. We approached all the relevant colleges that could provide the necessary external training. The speed of response was slow - and in one notable case not

at all. The eventual suggestions were often lost in bureaucratic complications and were more expensive than their commercial counterparts.

Another example: the BFA has been able to offer on behalf of a large footwear company an all-expenses paid three-month internship in China for a UK design student.

A to-die-for opportunity, you would have thought. One college immediately offered six students for consideration, one four (but more than a month late) and the third none. The reason? It could not find a student “who has the right level of self-confidence/assurance needed to undertake a placement in China”.

It’s no wonder students leave college with limited knowledge of what “life is like out there” and why employers feel frustrated when asked to provide work experience and employment for them. Some colleges have industrial liaison committees but if the BFA’s experience is an example, there is a long way to go before they deliver the sort of graduates the industry needs.

Richard Kottler is chief executive of the British Footwear Association

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.