- Inside Higher Eds
Doctoral Training Should Meet the Equity Moment (Global)
Inequity is on everyone’s lips. The disproportionate toll on people of color during the pandemic from both COVID-19 and police violence brought into laser-sharp focus the unjust obstacles many people face in our society. This moment has elevated the language and concepts of critical social theories to the status of everyday conversations, public conflicts and policy backlashes. It has also elevated ending racial injustice and achieving equity as stated goals of many universities, nonprofits, corporations, neighborhood initiatives and even the federal government. In many professions, the world of post-pandemic work will be deeply shaped by the equity enterprise for, at the very least, the three to seven years of the Biden-Harris administration yet to come. But how can an equitable and just society, sector, organization or even initiative be achieved? What does equity look like in practice? These are the questions currently occupying center stage in Zoom meetings all around the country. While the social sciences and humanities (SSH) helped create the theoretical groundswell that mainstreamed inequity as a problem, they must now contribute to solutions. SSH scholars should do so not just through producing more social theory but also by readying the next crop of SSH Ph.D.s to lead the social-change charge. We need an SSH workforce that can move from asking what has gone wrong to asking what it can do about it and how it can do that well. This crucial contribution should start with doctoral training that meets the current historic moment. In turn, that training and its accompanying reorientation of post-Ph.D. career purpose and prospects can help turn the tide on the mental health crisis of our doctoral SSH workforce. In their theoretical training, graduates of SSH doctoral programs are well equipped to transition to applied equity-related work. Clearly articulating and defining complex concepts is the bread and butter of the social sciences and humanities; words are our trade. As such, many SSH Ph.D.s bring a well-honed skill of challenging conceptual assumptions, being fastidious about the definitions of words under use and considering concepts in their historical trajectories. These abilities are vital to an important step on the road of change in organizational policies and everyday practices: to clearly define and operationalize critical concepts. What does it mean to have antiracist government policies? How can business research teams think about equity in social data collection and analysis? How do you train managers and supervisors to act with cultural humility toward a diverse workforce? SSH Ph.D.s are well placed to help answer these types of questions. While current theoretical training in SSH doctoral programs translates well into addressing conceptual challenges facing equity-oriented groups, many SSH students graduate inadequately equipped with the practical skills they need to contribute to this work. Most SSH programs still prepare doctoral students primarily for professoriate paths, where they would research and teach as tenure-track and eventually tenured academics. Such positions differ from other career paths in the types and sizes of collaborations they entail, the kinds of questions they ask and for what purpose, and the type and style of writing they produce and for whom.
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University Don urges youth to enroll in TVETs to self-reliant (Kenya)
Gaitho says TVETs offer a wide range of opportunities for the youth to be self-reliant once they complete their studies. “Supporting the youth to gain relevant skills is the only way to address unemployment and enhance entrepreneurship. We must be deliberate in creating these opportunities,” he added. His sentiments were echoed by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Foundation, chairman Eng. Patrick Obath who called on the private sector to be at the centre stage in assisting the youth and the TVET sub-sector in general. “Without a doubt the collaboration between the institutions and the industry in general will play a significant role in transforming Kenya into an industrialized, middle-income Country providing a high-quality life to all its citizens,” he said. Obath also shared insights on the need to diversify secondary and higher education streams to create equity by investing more in education that guarantees equal outcomes saying the private sector should support growth of value chains for small businesses through outsourcing and providing professional services. The two spoke during a recent virtual meeting held to celebrate this year’s World Youth Skills Day hosted by Egerton University with Gaitho urging the youth to be more aggressive in acquiring additional skills saying it will give them a head start in the job market. Technical Services, and Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) director Stanley Maindi said there is a huge mismatch between what academia is producing and what the labour market requires. “We have continued to have a shortage of relevant skilled manpower to power our economy. The existence of the authority is to ensure there is quality and relevance in what we are offering,” He noted. Davis Waithaka from Elimu holdings said the private sector can provide support by investing in the ICT infrastructure in partnership with government, providing affordable financing and education – through provision of the specifications required from the small businesses. “We need to have a structured engagement, both at the national and even at the county levels, so that we are able to continuously engage,” added Tom Mulati, Director of Technical Education, and Ministry of Education.
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