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"High-tech also needs psychologists and lawyers with a background in mathematics and programming"

The words were said by Prof. Yaffe Zilbarschat, the chairman of the OT, at the third Afka conference for the development of national human capital in industry ● The president of Afka College, Prof. Ami Moyal, said that students should be given training in interpersonal communication ● The president of the Technion, Prof. Peretz Levi, accept that the academy is too slow in adapting to the rapid changes in the labor market

Head of Technical and Technical Studies Prof. Yaffe Zilbrashtz at the Afka conference for the development of national human capital in engineering. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
Head of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Prof. Yaffe Zilbrashtz, at the Afka conference for the development of national human capital in engineering. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

Today, the chance of a high school graduate to get to universities in the various hi-tech professions depends on studying five units in the matriculation in computer science. It is better to think differently, and to give everyone a basic knowledge of programming and English, according to the words of the chairman of the planning and budgeting committee of the Council for Higher Education, Prof. Zilbrashtz, at the third Afka conference for the development of national human capital in industry, which took place last Thursday at Afka College.

"Since I assumed my position, the number of students in universities and colleges in the fields of high-tech has increased greatly. In recent years, we have given incentives to colleges, so that they increase the number of students in these fields, and we have succeeded. A similar effort will also be made at the universities, at their initiative, and thus we will be able to increase the number of students by 40% easily," Zilbaszt said.

"The Ministry of Education also helps with programs like 'Five times 2' (an initiative that aims to double the number of math, physics and computer science students at the five-unit level - AB), they give us the foundation, but the chance of reaching the high-tech subjects depends on the student having studied Five math units and five computer science units. There are many graduates who studied five units of mathematics and did not go to hi-tech because of the lack of background in computer science," she said.

According to Zilbreschatz, this time we are dealing with quality. "We asked the employers in the employers' forum of the Innovation Authority what you need from people who come to you and they said 'we don't just need what you give us.' Look much more open. Give training in software languages ​​to everyone, as well as those who have studied five units of mathematics, with this training they can become excellent hi-tech technicians. A lawyer with mathematical abilities, a psychologist who has been thrown into the job market - they will be able to bring their insights. There is something very revolutionary in the concept of the training that the market threw at us and we picked it up."

Prof. Zilbreschatz promised that VT will reward universities that offer high-tech training courses for graduates of the "soft" professions. Online learning can also be a significant factor in this type of training.

The profile of the engineer and the importance of soft skills

Prof. Ami Moyal, president of Afka College, said at the event that "for the first two years, we dealt with the quantitative aspect of the shortage of ten thousand engineers and programmers at the conference. This year we decided to focus specifically on the topic of quality - the profile of the engineer and the importance of soft skills. During the discussions, a working assumption is that soft skills are essential for an engineer, and there is no dispute about the need for them. But there are differences of opinion on the question, who is responsible for imparting the essential skills? The schools, the universities, the industry? There is also no agreement on the question of what the essential subjects are and how they are taught.

What are the essential skills? According to studies done, effective communication skills, cooperation, persuasion, self-learning, creativity are required in the first place. It is not a course given in large lectures in front of hundreds of students, nor in dedicated courses. It should be woven into all learning processes. Project-based learning, problems, flipped classes, self-learning, cooperative learning with active involvement of the students, changing the role of the lecturer and the class, perceptual and physical change of the learning spaces are required.

We have defined a strategic plan in which one of the key elements is the figure of the engineer and not just the transfer of knowledge. We give everyone knowledge in mathematics and physics, knowledge in a specific engineering field and specializations. This is in addition to personal skills, effective communication, critical thinking, self-learning, ability to work in multidisciplinary teams as well as languages: English, Hebrew and programming. All the heads of the schools analyze the curriculum, course by course, and examine what the learning product of each course is. It is essential, and in a few years it will become existential," said Moyal.

Iran and Turkey are ahead of Israel
The president of the Technion, Prof. Peretz Lavi, said in response to Moyal's words that the need to change the way engineering subjects are studied has become an existential necessity.

"With the help of the Shmuel Naaman Institute, I made a comparison of the state of science between Israel and its neighbors, and if there used to be a big gap in all the parameters - the number of scientific articles per capita, their quality according to citations and the journals in which they were published, and the number of engineering students - the situation has reversed in all these parameters. Iran compares to us in the number of scientific publications and their quality, and the number of engineering students there has increased from 750 thousand to 2.1 million. The situation in Turkey is no less impressive, and even in Saudi Arabia, the number of citations in mathematics articles is similar to Israel, when we know that they buy the experts. These quantities produce quality.

Unfortunately, the academy is very conservative and slow. As technology advances exponentially, we in academia must examine ourselves as to how we catch up with this revolution.

We must already today examine what skills each employee will need in the second half of the 21st century. Are these the qualifications we give our students, are we training the students for those professions that do not yet exist and will be common in 25 years. The knowledge is in your pocket, you no longer need to transfer knowledge. How should we manage the teaching methods without the massive reliance that has existed until now on knowledge?"

According to him, it is necessary to make the teaching interdisciplinary, as it was customary to impart the general liberal education to every university graduate. It is important to develop skills such as interpersonal communication, teamwork and creative thinking. He also suggests, "to train the students also in the social sciences, in order to understand the impact of science and technology on society".

"This is what we did when we founded the university in New York, together with Cornell University. We established a program in big data, long before it became a common concept, and we provide all students with training in sociology, psychology, ethics and interpersonal communication, beyond their studies. We see the project in New York as a sandbox that will allow us to try programs and import them."

More of the topic in Hayadan:

2 תגובות

  1. The teaching method needs to change even more from the schools and high schools, the children need to get used to active and less passive learning and develop their interpersonal communication, increase awareness and technological knowledge as well as educate the children and boys about culture, ethics and manners on the Internet. Learning programming is of course mandatory, welcome to the present.

  2. Just ridiculous.

    They talk about teaching qualities, soft skills and other important topics. And the professor from the Technion continues with the 19th century index about the number of publications, number of citations, etc... and he is also quoted as complaining about the adaptation rate of the academy...

    It's lost. This generation of academics lives in the past and cannot be corrected.

    A Ph.D track is required for people who come from industry and receive a degree based on teaching abilities and leading practical projects, only they can provide an answer to the dissemination of knowledge in the square corridors of the Israeli academy

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