Panel members at a conference on public relations (PR) practice have called for a collaboration between academia and players in the industry to build the capacity of young people so they can thrive in the professional world.
The panelists were the Chief Corporate Communications Officer of the Jospong Group of Companies, Sophia Kujordji; corporate communications professional, Benjamin Alpha; Lecturer at the Faculty of Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), Dr Isaac Tandoh, and Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Hollard Ghana, Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo.
The rest were the Head of Department of the Public Relations Faculty of PR, Advertising and Marketing at the GIJ, Dr Albert Anani-Bossman; Head of Public Relations, Global Media Alliance, Paa Kwesi Forson; Head of Department of Communications Studies, University of Ghana, Dr Abena Animwaa Yeboah-Banin, and the Head of Transformations, Texstyles Ghana Limited, Joyce Ahiadorme.
The GIJ Academic-Practitioners Conference 2022 was dubbed: “The PR and Marketing Communications Practice and Taught: Real or Perceived Gaps”.
The conference was attended by students, PR practitioners, academia and communicators.
Dr Forson urged students to take their course work seriously in order to sharpen their skills.
He urged them to master basic communications skills, noting that such skills acquired in school were a continuity in the professional world.
Mr Alpha also reiterated that students must be proactive in building their skills and values while applying the theories and knowledge acquired in school in the relevant industry space..
“Academia brings knowledge to the table, but skills building — when incorporated as part of the training — would be essential to the next generation of PR practitioners,” he said.
Mr Tandoh emphasised the importance of theory, stating that mastering theories taught in school improved a person’s skills and relevance for the job market.
He said the role of theory in practice was crucial, emphasising that claims about gaps between academia and practitioners were exaggerated.
Ms Ahiadorme urged students not to forget the theories learnt in school, saying theories were needed in applying their skills.
She, however, encouraged institutions to train students by using theories and practical work to equip them for the professional world.
She further urged the industry players and academia to share experiences and researches so they could be better about the trends in the industry.
Ms Kujordji, for her part, urged students to deliberately offer themselves for internship to learn and appreciate what had been taught in school.
She said they must consciously develop themselves and not wait for things to be handed over to them.
Be driven and relevant
Dr Yeboah-Banin said institutions must invest in their students to build professionals that were problem solvers.
She also urged students to be ready to do the work and be humble enough to learn.
Ms Ofori-Dwumfuo said employers mostly looked out for people who were practical and people who could think on their feet.
She said students must be exposed to the real world of work, and urged industry players to be intentional in training young people.
Dr Anani-Bossman also reiterated the importance of collaboration between academia and industry players, and urged students to get out of their comfort zone and build their skills.
The Rector of the GIJ, Professor Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, said academia and industry had their distinct purposes which must be recognised as such, but agreed that a strong collaboration of the two was crucial in equipping students to be prepared for the professional world.