India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, after the US and China, with over 35 million students. Focusing on this number alone is, however, misleading – India’s overall enrolment rate in 2017 was 25.2 percent, compared to China’s 43.39 percent, pointing to a significant deficit. Next year, as Prime Minister Modi’s government is up for re-election, job creation will be among the foremost concerns for voters.
While unemployment is undoubtedly a major issue in the country, unemployability, is in no way any less a concern. From turning up to the office in flip-flops, to struggling to make eye contact with co-workers or quitting after their first day, today’s students often lack the personal skills, awareness and basic self-discipline that is essential in the workplace. Employers will often say that students at all levels – school, college and university level – haven’t really got the essential elements that business is looking for.
Currently, only 2% of the Indian population is trained in vocational skills, as against 90 percent of skill based jobs in India that require vocational training. Despite 60% of population in working age, low employability rate can dilute the benefits of demographic dividend.
However, a revolution of sorts has begun to brew in classrooms and at boardrooms since the start of a new millennium. It’s the type of innovation that has seen a big change in the way students and employees are learning and the types of subjects they are being taught. No longer are the basics of education – reading, writing and arithmetic – enough to see students move on to a successful career. Enterprising skills are the need in the recent times. An employee is needed to be savvy in technology. It is important to be able to communicate and collaborate, be financially literate able to think critical and solve problem. The soft skills and nice to haves like communication and problem solving and creativity and collaboration have become a mandate alongside technical skills
To enhance the employability, there is a rapid shift in the corporate hiring trend leading to various stumbling blocks in the employment process for the students, institutions as well as the corporates which can in a way act as solution to the employee hiring problem. To know more regarding this rapid shift, Stoodnt.com got in touch with, Gopal Devanahalli, CEO of MeritTrac Services.
Here is his solution to the lack of cohesion between the source of skills (academia) and the users of skills (employers). Here is what he shared –
“Over the years, we have seen a widening gap in the functional skillsets of students graduating from colleges and the expectations from the industry. In the last couple of years, this is getting compounded because of rapid changes in technologies like AI, Robotics, Blockchain etc which is resulting in increasing automation and changes in industry structures. Apart from functional skills, Corporates also find a mismatch in cognitive & communication skills, which colleges typically do not focus on. There are many ways to overcome this, provided there is a strong industry-academia connect.”
When asked for his viewpoint on how the industry-academia connect be closely coupled, he further added –
“The academia should be prepared to make quick changes in the curriculum to equip students with industry required functional skills. With online learning becoming prevalent, it is possible for colleges to offer Online electives in new areas like AI even if they don’t have the necessary faculty. Industry should work closely with colleges in offering internships to students and also virtual live projects which will help them understand the corporate world better. Colleges should also be more involved in cognitive and communication skills. The first step is for students to be periodically assessed on these skills vis-à-vis the benchmark on corporate hiring. The colleges can pro-actively address gaps through training, team projects etc focused on enhancing these skills”.