I was honoured to be asked to write a guest editorial for the European Journal of Engineering Education – it has just appeared on the journal web page here. (If you cannot access this article through your library, you can use this free download link. However this link only works for the first 50 requests so please only use it if you have no other way to access the article.)
If it were not for my status as Emeritus Professor and my inclination to pursue many ideas at the same time, as well as running our little company Close Comfort, I probably would not have tried to squeeze maybe too many ideas into the one article. So I hope you find it interesting and not too scatterbrained.
I still work with students from time to time. Recently one told me how helpful he found one of the things he learned from me, the idea that talking to people face to face was so much more effective at getting things to happen at work. He is still finishing his degree, and told me he was surprised how easily he got a job by following the method I advocate, and have refined for my new book here. It’s a small piece of evidence that reassures me that the ideas in my editorial piece have some value.
I will be talking more about this at the forthcoming World Engineering Convention in Melbourne at the end of November. By all means come along and meet me there if you can spare the time.
How often do hear people saying we need better leaders?
We blame our slow responses to climate change on populist leaders. Thanks in part to populist leaders, women still face the same barriers as they did two or three decades ago. We are consuming earth’s irreplaceable resources, mineral and biological, far too fast to ensure future generations share the lifestyle we have today. We can change… but we need good leaders!
We hear time and again how people are losing their trust in leaders, politicians, institutions, and journalists. Where, they ask, are the Roosevelts, Kennedys, Churchills, Ghandis, and Mandelas who could lead us through these challenges?
We have run out of time to sit and wait for a phalanx of talented and inspiring leaders to emerge and rescue us.
I think we can make good leaders emerge much sooner. Universities could do that, but they need some new ideas.
On repeated occasions, surveys in Australia and elsewhere report business leaders complaining about graduates without appropriate skills.
Recently I wrote about one factor that could explain this: the implicit privileging of writing about all other forms of communication throughout our education system. Graduates, therefore, tend to have weak skills in listening, seeing and reading, even drawing and visual communication, all of which are critical for engineering and most other professions.
This helps to explain why the reputation of graduates is so low, particularly in the minds of business employers. And it is not just engineers, apparently, that are said to have terrible communication skills.
My research on engineers provides some novel answers that lie deep within the structure of our education systems. There are some other factors that have emerged from this research affecting not just engineers, but all graduates.
In this post I will describe the second of these factors: the implicit relegation of collaboration. Continue reading
On repeated occasions, surveys in Australia and other countries report that business leaders complain about graduates without appropriate skills. It is not just surveys that tell this story.
Not so long ago, a well-known Australian university decided to promote itself by seeking local business leaders to extol the benefits of their experiences at the university. Well, it turned out that most had actually dropped out of their courses and never finished their degrees! So the campaign was quietly abandoned.
Why is the reputation of graduates so low in business circles, particularly in the minds of business employers? It is not just engineers, apparently, that have terrible communication skills.