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Bridging the Gap between Academia and Industry – The Role of HR (pt. 3)

Cont’d from pt.2

Also, governments and policy makers should consider special incentives such as tax reliefs for industry or businesses that show stronger collaboration with academia.

The National Council for Tertiary Education and other educational bodies should also consider establishing a special unit within their organisations with the sole responsibility of liaising between academia and industry to strengthen their partnership.

Industry can also help to bridge the gap between itself and academia by first of all making it a policy to accept a number of undergraduates for internship every year, and ensuring that such interns are given the needed training for the world of work. Since industry seeks the kind of labour force that will “hit the ground running”, they should be willing to work with academia in ways that can affect the quality of education students are receiving. Again, industry should be willing to open their doors to lecturers who want to upgrade or develop new skills in their fields to do so.

Further, industry experts can volunteer to serve as visiting lecturers in higher educational institutions to impact teaching and learning. This will help students to appreciate better the expectations of industry; and be better placed to be successful at the workplace. Industry should also collaborate with academia regularly to provide stakeholders with data and statistics on job opportunities, required skills by industry through regular skill gap surveys to guide higher education policy and planning.

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What role can Human Resource (HR) practitioners play to ensure that the proffered suggestions are implemented, thereby helping to bridge the gap between academia and industry? As an HR practitioner myself, I believe we feel the impact of the gap between industry and academia more. This is because we are the first point of call for graduates as far as their entry into industry is concerned. I get the shock of my life when First Class holders from our universities or polytechnics are not able to express themselves well during interview. It is so frustrating when you conduct interviews and you are unable to find one suitable candidate at the end of it all. When this happens, the cost of recruitment in terms of time and other resources becomes high. Again, when it comes to giving top-up skills training to new recruits, it increases the HR cost and tends to affect the HR budget in terms of being able carry out more strategic issues such as talent management and succession planning.

These are just a few of the reasons why I believe HR is better off spearheading the move to bridge the gap between industry and academia. HR practitioners should ensure greater collaboration between their various organisations and academia. We should strengthen our talent development, coaching and management policies and ensure that giving internship opportunities to undergraduates becomes part of our overarching strategy. HR practitioners should also, from time to time, collaborate with heads of higher educational institutions to organise career fairs for students. These career fairs should aim at exposing Higher Education (HE) authorities and students to industry standards, demands, skills and competency requirements. This would help in the training and preparation of students to be relevant to industry. HR practitioners should also facilitate the regular collaboration with academia to provide stakeholders with data and statistics on job opportunities, skills and competencies required by industry through regular skill gap surveys to guide higher education policy and planning.

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Indeed, there is a huge gap between what industry expects and what academia produces. Bridging the academia and industry gap is a collaborative effort, and all stakeholders should work together to ensure that this gap is bridged. It is my humble opinion that the proffered suggestions will go a long way to bridge this gap if all stakeholders collaborate and work together. In doing so, the role of HR practitioners cannot be overlooked. HR practitioners should come out with workplace policies that ensure greater collaboration between their various organisations and academia.

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Patricia Abena Kissi (Mrs) is an HR Consultant, a Personal & Career Development Coach as well an Author. She is the CEO, SEDAT Consult Ltd.

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Source Beauty is pushing the boundaries of Egyptian e-commerce

Egyptian e-commerce

Egyptian e-commerce: the county’s digital drive has not yet gotten to the growth typically seen in European countries and North America. However, as businesses have started shifting online, customers are now following suit, resulting in the gradual development of the digital eco-system.

Innovation, such as digital marketing, is reinventing the consumers’ path to purchase. The Egyptian e-commerce market is expected to grow at a rate of 33% annually to approximately $3bn by 2022, according to Oxford Business Group.

Source Beauty and disruption

The increase in e-commerce comes from rising internet penetration rates, driven by connected and digitally savvy millennials. Several platforms, both locally and internationally, such as the direct-to-consumer beauty platform Source Beauty, have disrupted the beauty industry in the region to drive their growth by truly connecting with their customers.

By being aware of the changing consumer behaviour trends in the e-commerce landscape, service providers like Source Beauty are continually fostering customer engagement with a community they have created. The customer service team, along with the editorial and marketing teams, respond to each comment and direct message, making customers feel listened to.

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Lydia Schoonderbeek, the founder and CEO of Source Beauty, said:

Egypt has traditionally been a price-driven market. After devaluation and high inflation rates, people have become much more price sensitive. People are consuming less and are shifting away from imported products due to price, accessibility and inconsistency in supply. As a result, they’re looking for local alternatives.”

Egyptian e-commerce
Founder of Source Beauty, Lydia Schoonderbeek

In line with its digital transformation and financial inclusion agenda, the Egyptian government has set in place directives to raise the limit for electronic payments for individuals via mobile phones to EGP30,000 (USD1,905) per day, and EGP100,000 (USD6,350) per month, since March 2020. Traditionally, 70% of online purchases were cash on delivery, which has proven to be a major challenge to e-commerce growth throughout the region. This preference has changed to credit card payments, increasing to 30% from 16% due to the spread of Covid-19, but it remains to be seen whether purchasing behaviors will be affected in the long term.

The CEO of Source Beauty further added that, the company had seen substantial growth thanks to the COVID-19 global pandemic, with existing and new customers wanting to limit in-person beauty services and adhering to social distancing and mask-wearing requirements. Beauty customers, she says were changing spending habits, moving towards products that allow them to recreate the salon experience in their homes and protect them from the potential impact of an increasingly digital lifestyle. Finally, she believes they have seen customers prioritising skincare and haircare purchases over makeup.

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The question is, ‘Is anyone in Egypt going to buy beauty products online?’. Who thought people would buy books on the internet from a website called Amazon! Well, the answer seems to be YES. Consumer spending in Egypt on non-essential goods has reached EGP 3.90bn in 2020 and is set to reach 8.81bn in 2021, according to FitchSolution’s 2021 Report.

According to the Egyptian e-commerce beauty company, Source Beauty, it believes that the world is in an era where consumers are looking to associate with brands and not products, to make their beauty purchasing decisions and this is where homegrown brands like theirs will doubtlessly lead to economic growth in Egypt.

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