As director of the Centre of Media Training, Documentation and Production at Cairo University’s Faculty of Mass Communication, Nashwa Akl keeps abreast of trends shaping the media industry to make sure students have skills in demand.
The growth of digital media in particular has set greater challenges for students in terms of acquiring skills that go beyond the limitations of theoretical study, she told Al-Fanar Media.
“We seek to keep pace with the ongoing development in media practices at all levels, to preserve the principle of learning development, and to link trainees and partner institutions to the labour market,” said Akl, who is a professor of mass communication at the university.
These activities are important means of bringing education closer to the skills required in post-graduation professional life, she added.
Serving a Wider Community
The centre provides specialised and advanced training courses in order to provide students with experience in media production and documentation, Akl said. It also aims to expand its links with institutions of common interest and to provide media consultations to community institutions.
The centre reaches beyond the university to serve the wider community, Akl said. It offers opportunities to develop the skills and capabilities of anyone who wishes to work in broadcasting, television, written journalism, or public relations and advertising, as well as digital media.
“Graduates from other non-related colleges come to join the centre out of a passion for training,” she said. “They try to develop their talents, discover, and test their capabilities.”
The centre’s services, which are promoted by public and private institutions, include film production, and raising the efficiency of film materials by editing and colouring them.
“We seek to keep pace with the ongoing development in media practices at all levels, to preserve the principle of learning development, and to link trainees and partner institutions to the labour market.”Nashwa Akl, Professor of Mass Communication at Cairo University.
Certain training areas, such as digital media skills, are more in demand than others, since they overlap with more than one stage of the content industry. These areas include voiceover, graphic design, montage, digital marketing, and writing advertisements.
Other areas remain popular among students, particularly television presentation, which receives a large number of applications at the centre, she said.
Social Media and Training Priorities
As for the gap between academic study and labour market needs, Akl said that continuously updating training programmes is the answer.
For example, the great popularity of social media has made digital content a new priority for training programmes. “Social media content and the transformation of some content creators into entrepreneurs and popular programme presenters have increased young people’s interest in certain courses,” she said. “Students want to acquire skills that help them to work for more than one entity and remotely.”
Skills that are now in great demand, she said, include writing advertisements, free photography, montage, video making, and graphic design, in addition to producing content for podcasts.
Akl, who is also the executive director of the annual Arab Media Forum and has previously held positions at Misr University for Science and Technology, the International Academy of Media, and Al-Ahram Canadian University, said she advises students and media graduates to learn the skills the labour market requires.
“Do not wait for a traditional job, because it will often only be available in a limited way,” she said, “especially with the decline of traditional media outlets and their adoption of social media to promote their products.”
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