Not up to scratch

Not up to scratch

Although most colleges in the City make tall claims about the quality of education imparted by them — glossing over the fact that their fees are generally correspondingly high as well — those who recruit these students generally have a different story to tell.

In fact, employers from a cross-section of industries often echo the same complaints regarding their new recruits: that while they may be perfectly qualified in terms of textbook education, most of them don’t have the capability to translate this into efficiency at the work place.

That this perspective isn’t restricted to only one field is telling. Recruiters in the financial sector, human resource field and even the creative arena hold the same point of view. It isn’t that colleges in the City don’t make an effort to teach their students beyond the classroom. Many of them do conduct industrial visits, field trips and the like for the sole purpose of acquainting their students with the ground reality.

But employers term these attempts as half-hearted, since they are generally
conducted rarely and lack a proper structure.

“The problem is that most newcomers whom we hire don’t have a clue about the real world,” says Nandini Vijaisimha, an HR professional, frankly.

“The major drawback in our education system is that there’s too much emphasis
on having a word-for-word knowledge of the text and that simply doesn’t work in the corporate world. Many of our recruits don’t have basic comprehension skills. Unless they are given detailed instructions, they are unable to perform even simple tasks,” she adds.

In her opinion, colleges as well as parents — who lead their children to believe that their entire education boils down to the fact that they need to score well — are equally to blame for this.

“In fact, we hire a lot of MBA graduates to join our HR department and believe me when I say, they don’t even know the basics,” she says.

In the financial sector, the situation is only slightly different. Anjan Kumar, an investment banker, explains that recruits in this field can never bank on the knowledge they pick up in college, because it often isn’t practically applicable.

“Here, a lot of the work is self-oriented. Companies generally hire freshers into customer services and their sole job is to sell either loans, accounts, life insurance and the like.

Generally, what they learn in college is related to organisation structure, which is something they rarely have to use on the job,” he says.

This is why he advises students to pay more attention to their internship opportunities, rather than focussing on scoring well in the classroom. “These two-months stints are good for students because in this field, most of the learning is on the job. When companies are hiring, they look for students who have good communication skills and a knowledge of the local geography and people. These are skills which are never taught in college — they are picked up in the workplace,” he adds.

Interestingly, employers in different creative fields face similar problems. However, Lakshmi Jagmohan, a fashion designer, doesn’t feel that the blame lies on the quality of education in the City — in her opinion, it should be attributed to the attitude of
recruits.

“Colleges can’t really be blamed because they are restricted to a particular syllabus. But the problem is that the students who graduate from them don’t realise that there’s a huge difference between what they’ve learned on paper and a work environment. They need to have a certain presence of mind. Most of them want to come to work and immediately start sketching — they don’t know the first thing about execution or coordination. What’s worse is that they aren’t willing to learn,” she says.

She feels that the incorporation of more professionally-oriented content at the college level could make a difference, since it would give students a better understanding of how the industry operates.

“There should be more work-related projects. Perhaps colleges can start grading their students based on their internships. That ought to give them a basic idea,” she concludes.

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