Bridging the skill gap

Last Updated 08 November 2017, 18:49 IST

The financial services market in India has been in a constant state of flux lately, with the rapid proliferation of technology across the domain only intensifying the situation.

Moreover, the state of the country's job market has also added to the anxiety surrounding job security among students and professionals. The IT job market, for instance, has shrunk over the last two years, and is expected to contract even further. Earlier this year, some companies laid off their employees, making the need for skill development more urgent than ever.

According to a recent report, only 4% of India's population possesses vocational training. India currently has a vigorous entrepreneurial environment wherein most companies want quick, practical, and technical solutions to organisational and market problems. However, there is an evident lack of vocational and skill-based courses in the country's higher education institutions.

Developing crucial skills

This is a problem that must be addressed urgently since 90% of jobs in demand are purely skill-based, while only 20% of graduates get employed. According to the India Skills Report 2014, less than 30% students entering the workforce meet the job criteria set by employers.

In addition, only 11% of the 550 million people under the age of 25 are currently enrolled in professional education institutions, in comparison to the world average of 23%. There is a pressing need for graduates to have requisite skills needed to fit into job roles that require technical knowledge in areas like data analytics and finance by opting for job-relevant programmes and courses.

The argument for revamping the higher education curricula and introducing skill training at a young age is stronger than ever as it will have a long-term impact in exposing students to a wide range of
career opportunities within any industry. Skill development courses offered at both school level and undergraduate level can help students identify where their interests lie.

Ensuring more skilled and job-ready graduates demands practical, application-based pedagogy. Employing
tools like e-learning can enhance the effectiveness of learning. Internships and apprenticeships at the undergraduate level are an excellent way to create an experience-based education system across different levels.

Over the past 25 years, the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry has consistently contributed to the economy's long-term growth and sustenance. A report by the National Skill Development Corporation on the BFSI industry states that few developing countries have integrated with the global economy like India has, amplifying its gains through a high degree of productivity.

BFSI opportunities

BFSI companies are creating new products, innovative strategies and ramping up distribution networks - all by leveraging technology. While alternative investment instruments and growing consumer awareness about these products are attracting newer consumer demographics, banks and non-bank financial institutions are
exploring new business opportunities by collaborating with the burgeoning financial technology sector. As a result, there is a bright future for the sector in terms of jobs. However, facilitating the supply of skilled professionals across these sectors continues to be a daunting task for both the industry and academic institutions.

With the increasing dominance of technology in financial services like investment, banking and insurance, online skilling platforms present a gamut of opportunities for students to equip themselves with the right skills and knowledge corresponding to potential job roles in the BFSI sector. By collaborating with BFSI industry leaders, these platforms are
facilitating the dissemination of knowledge through shared resources. Thus, students can meet the industry demand in fields such as data and financial analytics, and have the appropriate certifications and validations from the industry. This way, young graduates preparing to enter the workforce can achieve greater career growth, with higher chances of taking up key leadership roles in organisations.

With a unified vision for the education system, higher education institutions, industry leaders and public sector organisations can form alliances to promote skill development among students to enable to thrive in a professional set-up. By establishing standards across different sectors and defining the competencies required for each role, they can enable uniformity in the job market and hiring parameters of organisations in the BFSI industry. As a result, students can make a much more focused choice on the career they want to pursue and skills they need to acquire.

(The author is managing director, Imarticus Learning, Mumbai)

(Published 08 November 2017, 11:44 IST)

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