Problems And Prospects Of The System Training And Curriculums Adaptation To The Current Needs Of The Labour Market

Problems and prospects of the system training and curriculums adaptation to the current needs of the labour market

«I think higher education is just on the edge of the crevasse. Generally, universities are doing very well financially, so they don’t feel from the data that their world is going to collapse. But I think even five years from now these enterprises are going to be in real trouble.»

Professor Clayton Christensen,

Harvard Business School

 

The reason for writing this article was the fact that in recent times the issue of prospects of higher education development is becoming more and more relevance. First of all, this is due to the processes of reforming of higher education in Russia, passing during the last 10 years: in particular structural reform on Russia’s accession to the Bologna process [1] and large-scale commercialization of education.

Both of these factors led to the need for significant changes in the education content.

The first factor —   with regard to the transition to a two-tier education system  (bachelor and magistrate degree) in order to join the common European higher education space. This caused a number of questions about how to compact the bachelor’s curriculums without reducing the existing level of graduates quality. Also there were questions about opening a number of new directions for the magistrates.

The second factor — with regard to attempt to meet current and future demand in terms of the balance flexibility in relation to the market requirements and a solid scientific higher school base. A large-scale transition to commercial system of financing has turned the universities into enterprises for the provision of educational services based on the rules of supply and demand. Perhaps the commercialization of education was a significant factor that the number of universities has doubled over the past 20 years. [2]

However, the race for the market demand have led to the opposite effect. Attempts to the fast educational content reorientation, which were following the market, has led, on the one hand, to many «trendy» education curriculums in the universities, and on the other hand, declined in the graduate’s quality. The higher school reform did not promote the latter, because it was primarily aimed at structural transformation for the Russian universities integration into the European space, instead of the development of the education system quality.

In the conditions of fundamental science financing reduction and the transition to market mechanisms, where the basic rule is «customer is a King», universities have to follow the requirements of the buyer — the student, which requires due to short term market conditions. It is obvious that at the time of order formation such purchaser can not have sufficient knowledge to determine market conditions in the absence of sufficient fundamental theoretical knowledge. In addition, the service will be provided only in a few years after graduation. In this regard, it is obvious that the choice of the customer inclines more to the so-called «fertile» knowledge – applied knowledge, rather than to prejudice of «Lightbringer» knowledge —  fundamental knowledge. [3].

As a result, the number of chartered financiers (economists, accountants) grows every year, despite the fact that the demand for financial professionals in the labour market is also growing. I.e. there is deficit of staff with the required skills in the market, under a sufficient number of diplomas holders.

It further, financial crisis exacerbated the problem, due to the fact that the cost of investment in knowledge is growing every year, while the number of high-paying jobs in the financial sector is reducing. This primarily reflected in various programmes of additional education and magistrate degree, most of them are may not be provided with effective demand in crisis, caused by the reduction of the training employees costs of the enterprises.

Thus, there is a formed gap between the graduate’s level of knowledge, primarily based on fundamental knowledge, and the real needs of employers in the field of the fast applicability of the acquired knowledge in practice.

Business education

Providers of business education quickly began to fill with the current free niche of adaptation of higher educational specialists to the employer’s requirements, which are presented on the market of educational services in the form of various short-term courses (trainings), as well as corporate universities. This is justified by the fact that the form of the high education is not flexible enough to respond to quickly changing market needs.

On the one hand, the appearance of a new participant on the educational services market has put additional pressure on the representatives of the higher education in part out of necessity, as the curriculums adaptation and the change in new approaches and models of knowledge transmission to the recipient.

On the other hand, the development of business education has helped to attract additional investments in the human capital market, due to the fact that in this case in the first place employers act as investors, who are willing to capitalize funds in the expectation of a quick return. Such education the employer provides as part of the improvement of professional skill of employees program, and as part of motivation.

The active use of new technologies in education has allowed business education to develop rapidly, displacing supporters of traditional forms of education from the market. Such things as MOOCS were appeared (Massive open online courses) and SPOCS (local online course). These are forms of distance education with the difference, that the first is an analogue of full-time study with the study material, examinations and receive diplomas remotely, the second is a distance part of a classical full-time course of study program (blended learning). Thus, the focus of a new learning model displace from the teacher as source of knowledge to the student as an object of knowledge (flipped classroom).

Since the 90s various lecture materials began to appear on the internet, however, the distance education began to be massive and widespread after almost 20 years with the appearance of the possibility of interactive communication and development of massive open online courses since 2010 years. [4]

Probably, in general, the growth dynamics in the number of online courses has not yet such a strong influence on changing the learning model in Russia, because of the fact that the spreading of internet technology has no such a scale as in developed countries. For example, in Russia full-time education amount 54.7%, distance education amount 13%, combined education amount 31.6%, while in the USA, the figures are 20%, 20% and 60%, respectively. [5]

Trends in business education

However, the dynamics of the business education is very high, and now there has been a number of trends that characterize the level of maturity of this market product.

1. The total duration of the training increases. Thus there is a transition from a long period single courses to a series of short period courses.

2. The learning model is changing from the traditional full-time education to the mixed form (blended learning or flipped classroom as previously mentioned). Typically, it includes the training, coaching, distance learning.  This model allows to provide the applied knowledge with a minimum distraction from the production in the most effective way. For more practical effect elements of project management are also in the educational programme.

3. The direction of the courses development is changing from typical to individual. Enterprises are more readily directed employees to the courses, that are adapted to their businesses specifics, which is also aimed at rapid acquired knowledge implementation in the economic life of the enterprise.

4. The level of professional programs standardization is increasing.

In addition, forms templates of training have formed depending on the category of trainees. So, the model «Face-to-Face» is offered for top-managers firstly. Middle managers basically are sent for training in corporate universities, and various kinds of specialists trained through On-Line courses.

The process of integration

Against the background of higher education reforming processes, the imbalance in the direction of business education and various forms of distance education can lead to more dangerous phenomenon — the outflow of intelligence. High student mobility in the absence of a quality education system, providing future employment, creates breeding ground for it. So from 2000 to 2009 the number of students studying abroad has doubled from 1.8 to 3.3 million people. While a leaders in attracting international students are the United States and the United Kingdom. [6]

As one of approaches for solving the dispute in the field of prospects of higher education development is the trend to the integration of the classical high education curriculum and business education, as for the content of the educational programme, and for the form of teaching and testing knowledge. ACCA, CPA, CIMA, CGMA, etc. can be marked out among the most popular and advanced programs of additional professional education. [7]

Among these programs, the leader is an educational program of the Association — ACCA (Association of Charted Certified Accountants is one of the world’s most prestigious certification of specialists in the field of International financial reporting standards), both the curriculum spread, and interaction with universities around the world. As a universal approach to integration with the universities programs, ACCA provided an opportunity to pass a part of the examinations of its curriculum for the universities in any country (up to 9 exams from the 14 possible) in compliance with the requirements set by ACCA. Basic requirements include ensuring at least 80% the convergence university programme with the ACCA program in the relevant discipline, and requirements to test the student’s knowledge. In addition the university must go through the accreditation procedure. [8]

It is worth noting that as the whole the legislation development in the field of financial accounting, in particular, a gradual global transition to the international financial reporting standards (IFRS/IAS) also promotes the rapid development of ACCA. So the transition to the international financial reporting standards implemented in 2012 in Russia in accordance with the Federal law of 27 July 2010 No. 208-ФЗ «Consolidated financial statement» and the Russian Finance Ministry order dated 25 November 2011 No. 160н. In particular this applies to companies whose securities are admitted to trading. Therefore, over time, this will also entail the transition to IFRS and planning systems, financial analysis, auditing, etc.

Taking into account that today in Russia a specialist with knowledge of IFRS earns 30-50% more than a regular accountant, despite the fact that there is  approximately 2% of such specialists in the market, we can assume that the demand for these training programs will be quite high for a long time. [9]

The advantages and disadvantages of partnership

Despite the high popularity of business education, and professional associations’ openness for cooperation, integration of professional certificates in higher educational programs is a singular character yet. First of all this is due to the so-called high barrier to entry in this market segment, in particular:

— first of all, this is due to the lack of educational material in the Russian language, and the materials that are available in English, significantly more expensive than those provided by university libraries. Moreover, no material for both students and teachers;

— in addition, you have to recruit or retrain teachers of the university to provide the required level of training and testing of students knowledge. While the labor market is such that teachers, which have the necessary professional qualifications and experience, are much more expensive, than university can afford, based on the standard salary of university teachers;

— it’s also worth noting that the student’s basic training requires a higher level;

— even if the courses are taught in Russian, knowledge of English should be at least in intermediate level, because most of the material has not translated into Russian language yet.

Thus, it will take time to promote the integration practice of an university diploma with a professional certificate until these barriers will become available to a larger number of participants. However, the number of universities – members of this partnership will grow, because it has some obvious advantages for all participants, in particular:

For universities:

— higher standards for examination and, as a consequence, the significance of the university and the importance of its diploma;

— increasing the chance of further future student employment due to the higher competitive advantages;

— high level of teaching staff training;

— accelerated implementation of modern learning models;

— the motivation of graduates to further self-training in the field of professional certificates;

— in general, it gives the growth of graduates employment.

For professional associations — attracting new members (students) owing to:

— higher level of students basic skills;

— possibility for students entry into the association at an earlier time;

For the employer:

— reduction of investment needs;

— reduce distraction from the working days;

— creating the gateway to form a pool of talented, ambitious and interested in self-development students. The company, interacting with the university on the target order principles, not only reduces the current costs of training, but also forms a platform for the future specialists flow, which enter at the expense of own funds with the expectations of future employment prospects.

Thus, we can say that such a triple alliance of the university, professional associations and employer, based on the principle of «win-win-win».

Moreover, the interaction these participants can be not only in the field of curriculums standardization, but also on a number of other areas, such as:

— exchange the research results in the field of labour market structure and dynamics. Business education has a high mobility and more sensitively understands the needs of the market, both from the point of view of the format of teaching, and from the point of view of an educational program content modification.

— furthermore, curriculums standardization will also promote the cooperation between universities in the field of joint programmes formation and dual diploma programs [10], since professional communities will be considered university curriculum accreditation as a kind of confirmation of the content standard and the quality of curriculum teaching.

Conclusion

Despite the integration processes in the field of educational programs of higher and additional professional education, they are based on fundamentally different targets:

— Universities – fundamental knowledge (life skills);

— Professional Association — applied knowledge (hard skills);

— Corporate universities – personal development (soft skills).

In this regard, in the race for modern trends and short-term market conditions, it is important not to make the constitution comprehensive higher education for a series of certificates and diplomas of additional education. First of all, high education contains the idea of personality formation, and the development of science, technology and culture. Solely universities also reserves the field of fundamental research (R&D).

It is necessary not to push each other’s by attempts to develop at parallel market segments, but to build mutually beneficial partnerships with its members. The result of this partnership should be a complex multilevel system, which contributing to the development of a continuous educational process: from the personality formation and the acquisition of fundamental scientific knowledge to obtaining professional skills and personal qualities development.  

Finally, the level of education quality in the country is one of the key elements that determine its competitiveness.

 

THE LIST OF REFERENCES

1. Margaryan T. D., Dikova O. D. «The Bologna process in Russia: problems and prospects». Gumanitarniy vestnik, 2013. vol.5  

URL: http://hmbul.bmstu.ru/catalog/pedagog/hidden/70.html

2. «Argumenty I Fakty» No. 34, 2012.  URL: aif.ru

3. Panfilova T. V., Ashin G. K. «Prospects of higher education in Russia (Reform or liquidation?)»

URL: ecsocman.hse.ru/data/2010/12/13/1214861853/panfilova.pdf

4. Massive open online course, distance education
URL: https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/

5. Avanesov V. «Strategy of Russian education development in the 21st century».
URL: http://testolog.narod.ru/

6. See the Future 2014, CarringtonCrisp, November 2014

7. «How to avoid mistakes in choosing a professional certificate», «Finance Director», 2014. No. 12 (144)

8. Exemption accreditation URL: http://www.accaglobal.com/content/dam/acca/global/PDF-learningproviders/2013/2013 e/ExemptionAccreditationQuickguide2013.pdf

9. «How much IFRS experts earn?» 2012, «Glavbukh».
URL:glavbukh.ru/art/23357-skolko-zarabatyvayut-spetsialisty-po-msfo

10. Joint programmes and double diploma programmes in the countries of the European Union, the NGO «Centre for the study of professional education problems»,  URL: http://www.acur.msu.ru/useful/joint_degrees_EU.pdf