Competence and skill supercede knowledge

The majority of doctoral students apply for jobs in an industry that is looking for more than only technical excellence. To really excel in tomorrow’s job market, innovation and entrepreneurship are highly important, as well as the skill to put you knowledge to the best possible use. 

Anders Flodström is the Education Director of EIT ICT Labs. When he describes the prerequisites for a successful career in the industry, it is more than a vast technical knowledge that he stresses:

- Today, a third of all doctoral students in Sweden continue onto an academic career, and two thirds seek a position in the industry. For those who choose an academic career, the quality of their thesis is crucial. But for those looking for a place in the industry there are other qualities that matter more.

- Among these are creativity, a holistic approach, entrepreneurship and the ability to use their knowledge in the best way. Of course these are qualities that are useful in academic careers as well, but they are crucial for your future in the industry.”

Acquiring an innovative mindset
Innovation and entrepreneurship are two main pillars of EIT ICT Labs Doctoral School. The aim is to help doctoral students acquire a new mindset, which holds both the ability to create innovations, and the capacity of developing new business fields. A way of thinking that has been more common in the U.S. than in Europe, according to Anders Flodström. 

- There, talented students with an interest in innovation are given generous opportunities to develop their abilities in the best way. But my experience is that they are content to turn to those who already have expressed that interest. We will train all of our students in the EIT ICT Labs Doctoral School – not only the talented.

Skill is more important than knowledge
He describes the educational landscape as undergoing a dramatic change, where new ways of working with knowledge are developing. In the future, your own ability to adapt and use your knowledge will be the key. 

- Competence and skill will be more important than knowledge itself in the future. It is increasingly important to teach the ability to use knowledge, in different contexts and with different goals.
- And ICT is the best area in which to initiate this change. In ICT, we train not for a particular industry, but give students the prerequisites to use their skills in all industries.”

A tool box of skills
The EIT ICT Labs Doctoral School aims to provide the students with technical expertise, but also with a tool box of skills, where an understanding of innovation is among the most important. 

- Higher order thinking skills are what we strive for in courses related to EIT ICT Labs. These are difficult to really describe, or put your finger on, like creative thinking, but possible to convey through education.
- I hope, and believe, that this will lead to a situation where doctors who go into business will have a better entrepreneurial ability, and a better understanding of innovation processes, than those already employed.

Connecting students to a European ecosystem 
When you enroll in the EIT ICT Labs Doctoral School, one of the strongest benefits is acquiring a connection to a broad network of academia and industry. As a student you will be embedded in the European ecosystem of innovation. 

- Higher education is, like most other sectors, a globalized field today. Therefore, we must apply a holistic approach when we are developing the European educational system. Even if we Europeans have suffered from inferiority complex when we have observed the development in the U.S., China or Korea, that doesn’t mean we cannot contribute to the global knowledge society, and even aspire to be the driving force in creating a new one. A new such society, based on competence and skill, where we integrate society, industry and academia.

An important part of this is the strong development in distance education, where the importance of geographical proximity is made redundant. Anders Flodström describes this as a way of changing the global playing field.

- To succeed, it is important that we establish a strong mobility, and efficient networking between the nodes of the EIT ICT Labs. And after having met many of the contributors and supervisors, am I convinced that we will do just that. 

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