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Enhancing the link between students and business

The business community in Agder, represented by business associations and business parks, signs a new agreement with the University of Agder (UiA) renewing cooperation on education and skills upgrading.

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The agreement was signed during an online ceremony on Friday afternoon.

The agreement was signed during an online ceremony on Friday afternoon.

“UiA is very pleased to renew the agreement with the region’s business community. It means a lot to us to be close to the world of work”, says Sunniva Whittaker, rector at UiA.

Rektor Sunniva Whittaker (Foto: Jon Petter Thorsen / Aptum)

Rector Sunniva Whittaker (Photo: Jon Petter Thorsen/Aptum)

Priority areas

The agreement was first established in 2017, and the new agreement has three main areas of focus. The first focuses on education and skills upgrading. This includes guest lectures, practice opportunities and assignment writing for students.

“We must connect students more closely with the business community while they are still studying, and work to ensure that students gain relevant work experience in the business world as part of their programme. To prepare for the future world of work, we must find ways to retain and attract the expertise we need in the region”, says Trond Backer, CEO of the Business Association in the Kristiansand region.

Many employees in the business world need to refresh and improve their professional knowledge. UiA is a major resource offering more than 100 different courses in many different fields. In collaboration with the business community, UiA can also tailor study programmes to meet specific needs.

Administrerende direktør i Næringsforeningen i Kristiansandsregionen Trond Backer (Foto: Privat)

Trond Backer, managing director of the Business Association in the Kristiansand Region (Photo: Private)

“The new agreement is important for identifying the many opportunities that exist in continuing education”, says Morten V. Haakstad, general manager of Arendal Business Association.

The agreement also facilitates research and innovation collaboration between the member companies and the university, as well as joint promotion.

Close cooperation

The Business Alliance in Agder consists of the business associations in Kristiansand, Arendal, Vennesla, Grimstad and Sørlandsparken, the Lindesnes region’s business park/business alliance, Lister Innovation, Pågang Business Park in Risør, and Setesdal Regional Council. NHO Agder is also part of the agreement.

Daglig leder i Arendal næringsforening Morten Haakstad (Foto: Privat)

General Manager of Arendal Business Association, Morten Haakstad (Photo: Private)

“Our common goal is for Agder to be the  most attractive residential and commercial region in Norway. If we are to succeed in this, a close collaboration between the university and the business community in the region is required”, says Backer.

“We seek to build stronger collaboration between our local business community and UiA. This is important for students to get better knowledge of and connection to the knowledge environments the business community represents, but it is equally important for the business community to become familiar with the versatile expertise the students and the academic environments at UiA possess”, says Haakstad.

“We see the importance of  cooperation and a common message. Being part of the agreement with UIA is exactly the kind of collaboration we want”, says Lene Anderssen, general manager of Sørlandsparken Business Association.

“We have high expectations that the collaboration agreement with UiA will strengthen the business community in Lister. Attention is needed on skills upgrading and research-related measures in the companies. The agreement with UiA is part of our toolbox to succeed in those efforts”, says Christiane Skage, general manager of Lister Innovation.

Daglig leder i Lister Nyskaping Christiane Skage (Foto: Privat)

General Manager of Lister Innovation, Christiane Skage (Photo: Private)

Working life relevance

The agreement responds to the government’s desire for stronger ties between the world of employment and higher education.

“There should be more meeting places where education and the world of employment can identify what students should learn and how they should learn it”, said Minister of Research and Higher Education Henrik Asheim (H) earlier this week when he presented his white paper on working life relevance: Utdanning for omstilling (Education for change).