Confident yes, but capable?

Confident yes, but capable?

Does a university education merely equip a student with a degree certificate? The common grouse of organisations, which are constantly looking to hire young professionals, is that the academic records of most graduates show remarkable achievement, but in real life the young graduates have neither the skills nor the aptitude required by the industry. Their communication skills and analytical abilities fall woefully short of expectations, say industry chieftains.

Sujay Kumar, an engineering graduate, says: “I completed my engineering in 2009. Batch placements, which usually start in the third year of engineering, were postponed to the final year because of the recession. Fewer companies than ever before arrived for campus recruitment and the number of students actually recruited was really low. I was recruited, but I had to wait for five months after I completed my course to start work. I did not get a job related to my branch of engineering. But the first few months of training were the best learning ground ever. I also realised that universities and colleges must provide students with skills required by the industry. It makes the transition from student to working professional much smoother.”

Kruthi Shekar, a Commerce graduate who is presently pursuing an MBA degree, emphasises the importance of an industry internship. “Joining an organisation as a student trainee introduces one to the working of the different departments of the company. One also learns communication skills, discipline, team playing skills, and responsibility towards deliverables,” she says.

Apart from technical skills, fresh graduates also need adequate training on soft skills ranging from communication skills and personality development. Such modules, say students, must be introduced at the beginning of the degree programme.

“Introducing modules on soft skills in the final year, merely for the sake of helping students clear campus interviews, will not help as these skills are acquired and require sufficient time to develop. Soft skills have to be a part of the curriculum and equal emphasis must be given to communication, personality development and technical training,” says Kruthi.

Sooraj Rajan, a mechanical engineer who graduated in 2009, was recruited through campus placement. “I love the industry that I work in. Initially, I did not know what my everyday work would be like. I did not know what to expect from my new job. There was a huge gap between  expectations and reality,” he says.

 In 2009 when the economy was coming to grips with a slowdown and job offers were scarce, students were ready take up any job that was on offer. The fact that jobs were getting tougher to find played on the minds of most graduating students and many of them opted for higher studies instead of a job.

The trend continues.

“Many students say they would rather avail of an education loan to finance their higher studies than be stuck in a rut in a dead-end job. So, in a year’s time there is going to be a large number of students passing out with good qualifications and loans to pay back. If the market next year is not ready with as many jobs, I wonder what will happen,” trails off Sooraj.

 “Every industry is facing a quality gap with regard to talent,” says Rahul Arya, Marketing and Technical Sales Director of Cadence Design System.

“I think there is a fundamental lacuna in the education framework. Especially in the engineering stream where an individual goes from an academic programme directly into a job, with no prior on-the-job training. All other fields of study require an individual to have a six-month to one-year apprenticeship/internship before he/she starts working. Ideally, we should overhaul engineering education and make it a five-year programme, by including a mandatory apprenticeship for a year or six months,” he says.

His organisation has recently launched an initiative with Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), where an electronic lab has been set up to provide students practical experience in end-to-end design and comprehensive under-standing of the overall design chain.

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