What is it about?

A case study of higher education institutions in El Salvador partnering with industries in four high-growth sectors (ICT, Energy, Agriculture, and Light Manufacturing) to reform their curriculum, collaborate in applied research and provide real-world experience for students and faculty members. Partnership clusters in each sector were the platform for dialog that reduced biases and enhanced the value of collaboration towards common goals.

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Why is it important?

Employers often complain that recent university graduates are not prepared for the workforce, particularly in STEM fields. Higher education, therefore, is integral to creating a skilled workforce, encouraging innovation and ultimately increasing economic growth prospects, particularly in smaller economies such as El Salvador, which have been based on the production of labor-intensive industries. To succeed requires overcoming industry-higher education cultural differences, biases and stereotypes as prerequisites to recognizing common interests, collaborating to achieve common goals, and increasing value of talent and innovation leading to economic growth.


Around the world, higher education is challenged to not just produce more graduates, but to ensure graduates are relevant to the needs of the private sector, particularly in STEM fields. How do universities determine the changes needed to close the skills gap? Why don't industries see the contributions that universities make to their value chain? Together, my colleagues and I discovered that dialog and opportunities to step into each other's world are necessary to bring academia and industry together to collaborate. The innovative model of bringing universities and industries together in clusters provided the platform for this dialog to occur, not only between industry and higher education sectors, but within them as well.

Dr. Richard A Navarro
California State Polytechnic University Pomona

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Addressing workforce needs by disrupting traditional industry–higher education relations: The case of El Salvador, Industry and Higher Education, September 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0950422219875886.
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