Education for Employability

Unfortunately, the educational curricula in the country didn’t change to match the requirement at the targeted jobs. This gap created a huge unemployed and underemployed lot that hardly justified the expenditure incurred on education by the parents and in turn disenchanted many particularly those living in rural India. It is shocking but a fact with large number of engineers and MBAs remaining unemployed or doing some real underpaid jobs in unrelated fields. The main culprits were certainly the educational institutes that just kept the students for a period and provided a paper called degree or diploma, sometimes even sold that. As realized by many, in India unemployability has been a bigger problem than unemployment.

I got a shock again when I was told that there are about 286 engineering, 283 management colleges in UP. What sort of engineering and management skill can be expected in the graduates coming from these institutes with insufficient and hardly knowledgeable faculty employed and facilities provided in the most of them?

And as usual another set of entrepreneurs again set up institutes to provide finishing courses for employability such as skill of communication in English, or certain basic knowledge of computer operation along with some soft skills as much as for how to tuck your shirt in, and to take bath shave before interview. Teamlease is one such company manufacturing employees, and as reported, it has ready-to deploy staff of 75,000 in 700 cities and employment exchanges in 10 states. And a majority of graduates in any subject including humanities could be made acceptable to the employers in many service sectors such as hospitality, telecom, and retails in demanding job market. Many social entrepreneurs also have appeared to improve the employability among the graduates. I wish the thrust would have gone to the roots of the education process at the school and college level.

Some companies such as NIIT provide training for IT and BPO sectors by building in the skill required among all types of graduates in science and technology from all sorts of institutes. As its CEO says, “the opportunity around employability is huge. A hundred such NIITs can exist.” According to an estimate of 2008, IT-training is $1.8 billion market with a growth rate of 40%.

And then companies such as Infosys and few other major players in IT sector have created a huge in-house training setup to train the graduates from second and third tier institutes to bring them up to the needs of the company. Through its Campus Connect initiative Infosys has reached to more than 500 engineering colleges benefitting 3,000 faculty members and about 58,000 students. The main focus is on enhancing the industry readiness of the students. Infosys in the process has set up the largest training centre in the world. It reminds of GM Technical Centre in US that later on became full-fledged institute. I wonder one day the Infosys centre may turn into a university creating employees and trainers for the IT sector. With only about 1 percent students from the top engineering colleges such as IITs, the task to make most of them employable is stupendous and will require many Infosys like initiatives. Similarly some like Nishant Saxena’s Elements Akademia are focusing on increasing employability of MBAs from B-schools outside the top 100.

However, the main thrust must be on improving the employability at the institute level itself, and if necessary the regulators must make an effective industry- academia initiative mandatory to bridge the gap between the requirement of the industry and the education that the institutes provide. And the government must encourage industry’s active involvement and even participation with the engineering colleges and B-schools, as it stands today.

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