Employability Should Be Top of Mind in Agile Education

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In this interview I had the pleasure of talking to Juan Garbajosa, Deputy Vice Rector at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Spain.

Juan has also been involved in organizing the XP Conference in Europe for many years and is the chair of its steering committee. During his tenure in academia, he has been a strong advocate of Agile and eXtreme Programming.

He began the interview by expressing his opinion that, besides research and knowledge transfer, academia should emphasize how to better prepare students to work in the industry upon graduation. For him, employability should be a win-win situation in which academia, students, and industry are all satisfied.

According to Juan, all his university graduates find a job before graduation due to high demand from industries that require more and more software professionals. However, the challenge for new graduates is to evolve and learn so they can remain employable fifteen years after graduation. Juan mentioned that overspecializing in one area, like manual testing for instance, can be counterproductive for graduates’ careers. (He commented that automation can easily replace professionals that specialize in manual testing.)

He mentioned that Agile has expanded to many other domains beyond software. He sees that many more industries are open to Agile and academia is reflecting this. Juan mentioned that in academia, Agile is being taught in different department besides Software Engineering, but that the principles are somehow put in second place. He foresees that the pandemic could be a driver for everybody going back to the roots of Agile and paying more attention to its values and principles.

Juan highlighted that one of the key principles is technical excellence, which is frequently forgotten resulting in the false sensation that the product is moving faster but with lots of hidden technical debt. Academia teaches the solid practices that need to be applied in software development, but when  when graduates begin working in the industry they forget this important lesson.

In closing, Juan said that Agile is on its way to becoming mainstream in academia, especially in universities like his that are polytechnic and tightly connected to industry.

About the Author

Juan se especializa en entrenar, mentorear y hacer coaching de equipos Agiles para que en corto tiempo puedan alcanzar resultados asombrosos. Juan es también un agente de cambio que ayuda a que empresas completas vuelquen sus prácticas hacia formas más humanas de trabajo. Juan es un Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) y LeSS Friendly Scrum Trainer. Su formación universitaria incluye un grado de Magister en Administración de Sistemas de Información conferido por The University of Illinois at Chicago.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.