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In-School Productivity Campaign | Reducing transitional pains through 'knowledge share'

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jonathan Isaacs

Students at all levels are often filled with mixed emotions as they approach the end of a chapter in their educational journey. This applies to students who will be pursuing higher education as well as those who are making that life-changing transition into the work world, either as an employee or an entrepreneur.

At the tertiary level, some students are often misguided by preconceived notions of what the work world is really about, especially in their respective areas of study. This is particularly true when classroom interactions fail to bridge the gap between what is taught in theory versus practical applications.

A concept known as 'knowledge share' is useful to help narrow the gaps that may exist when students are transitioning from the classroom to the work world. Knowledge share involves activities through which information, skills and expertise are exchanged among people, friends, families, communities and organisations.

An excellent example is a recent invitation from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) student chapter at the School of Engineering, University of Technology, sent to select industrial engineering graduates to participate in a forum. The president of the SME student chapter, which is predominantly made up of third- and final-year industrial engineering students, noted that concerns have been raised by students regarding making the transition into the work world and applying the training and knowledge to their specific areas of work when the time comes.

The invited industrial engineering graduates took this as a grand opportunity to show the power of knowledge share, since they would have all transitioned in the work world as well as been actively applying the concepts learnt throughout their tenure as students at the university. Each graduate was allotted a time slot to share specific practical experiences of how industrial engineering was applied in solving real-world problems in their work assignments.


Focus on productivity


Students were told that regardless of the sector in which they obtained employment, it would be important to focus on being productive. That is, ensure that you work efficiently and effectively or simply add value to the organisation.

Students were reminded that productivity is a key function of what Industrial engineers do as they seek to optimise processes and systems for greater efficiency and effectiveness. Students were also charged to integrate productivity into their daily lives as well as apply the concepts in their places of work at every opportunity.

Having heard practical experiences from working graduates who represented a diverse mix of experience spanning manufacturing, banking, energy and other sectors, the 27 engineering students in the room were quite eager to engage the graduates with questions.

The questions sparked discussions, which led to an interactive session which provided applicable answers and tips on making the transition as well as actions that the students can take now, such as networking with possible organisations for potential job opportunities, as well as focusing on the value added that they individually would bring to the job market. Other important pointers given by the panel of graduates included devising a strategy in charting a career path and understanding the flexibility and power of industrial engineers to any area or field of work.

This experience reiterates the importance of fostering a culture which utilises knowledge share as a viable avenue to address issues at the individual level which will ultimately transcend to the macro level. If we are to become more productive as a society, knowledge share must become an important platform for us to share, learn and grow together - each one helps one.

- Jonathan Isaacs is a productivity specialist at the Jamaica Productivity Centre.