Freshers require employable skills

Unemployability

Freshers require employable skills

Most jobs needs skills but what most colleges impart is purely academic knowledge that is redundant in the professional world, writes Shajan Samuel.


India today has 733 odd universities and 33,000 odd colleges, half of what China has. Most of our graduates coming out of college suffer from some sort of skill deficiency. There is a market failure in the university system today. India adds one million people to its labour work force every month. That is 12 million annually. Out of every four people joining the global work force, one is Indian.

Employers want graduates who can deliver from day one; they are not willing to train candidates.  Students are not willing to pay for training; they are willing to pay for jobs, financiers are not willing to lend to candidates unless a job is guaranteed. The innovation lies at the intersection of employment and employability.

Jobs in India are in the blue collared sector but candidates coming out of colleges are looking for white collared jobs. Fresh graduates are like waiters in a restaurant, they  don’t decide the menu. Whatever jobs are available fresh graduates should take them rather than being picky.  Students passing out of colleges are not amenable to ground realities, they are all waiting to sit on the rocket to the moon. Sadly, there is no rocket.

 People looking to be plumbers, electricians, loaders, packers, don’t want to spend money to go to a private school to get trained.

We must reboot our vocational system by linking funding to outcomes and separating it from delivery (making state money available for private delivery). Most of what you learn in college is redundant in real life.

The good thing in India is now a reverse brain drain is taking place with many MBA and engineering colleges running half capacity. Good companies go to good colleges for hiring candidates and small to midsized  companies don’t need MBAs and engineers. Graduates now are willing to work early, gain some experience and then look to pursue an MBA.

The problem in India is we have more sub-optimal colleges than quality colleges. Our education architecture is input driven, with no quality audit or rigour in academics. A sizeable amount of students pursue a graduation program only for social signalling value. A degree gets you a better bride and social acceptance, goes the norm.

The challenge in the system has been that demand and supply have been getting out of sync for a long time. For example, the curriculum of the National Council of Vocational Training still insists on automobile engineering being taught with a carburettor, although Indian cars made today don't use carburettors. The Ayatollahs of vocational training -- education policy makers and bureaucrats have not kept up their curriculum with what the employers want.

Unemployability

Unemployability is a bigger problem in India than unemployment. On the skills development front, we need to create a skills voucher. We need to get public money available for private delivery. If the government spends Rs 30,000 a year on a student in an industrial training institute or ITI, why not give that money to vocational training Institutes and measure it against the ITI? Funding should be for students and not institutions.

Most jobs needs skills but what most college imparts is knowledge, academic rebooting, realignment of curriculum. Assessments, apprenticeship, projects, internship, and revamping our education system is the need of the hour to make our students work-ready .

We must change our examination system in schools and colleges, and make it more assignment driven rather than assessment driven. Exams at the end of the year should be substituted with periodic exams, quantitative aptitude, project work, team assignments, and creative skills. This will lead to all round development of the student.

Vocational training can serve as either a substitute or as a supplement to traditional college education. Currently, organised vocational training is still evolving in the country.

Many institutes that focused solely on technical training in the initial years have tried to branch out into other areas but with limited success. They have largely operated as islands of training that are only weakly linked to the working world, and that has been their problem.

In order to be truly effective, vocational training should always have a finger on the pulse of the industry.

Critical comprehension, lateral thinking and multiple intelligences are important attributes required to be successful in work place arena and this bouquet of skills is completely ignored in our education system.

We need to imbibe soft skills-communication, teamwork, problem-solving, planning organising, and grooming into our curriculum.

Many students are unable to make their own resume, most of it is copied. Employers have also begun to expect willingness and an ability to learn, a positive attitude and a sense of responsibility.

Collaboration across sectors, strong partnerships between campuses and industry-meaningful engagement from civic leaders, and better communication with policy makers for elementary and secondary schools—all are necessary approaches to recast today's higher-education landscape in a way that will benefit students for generations to come.

Often the aspect of being good human beings and dutiful citizens of the country doesn’t form a part of the curriculum. In the final analysis though, that is what matters most.

India has the potential of its demographic dividend to become the skill-supply factory of the world.

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