In the crazy game of career-building, the rules keep changing. If depth was the old rule, width seems to be the new one. It is called T-shaped competency. Picture it like a horiztonal board placed over a vertical pole.
The new Generation T of executives have technical competency, industry-specific knowledge and business-process expertise to drive sustained innovation. For example: a student who has deep-based knowledge in business management and broad-based knowledge in technology is an excellent candidate for business consulting services.
"Generation T," as Amol Mahamuni, Program Director – University Relations of IBM India puts it, "is the need of the hour. Students with such interdisciplinary education have an advantage over others in competing for jobs in a globally competitive economy."
Industry experts say knowledge-based work has evolved from being a production-centric model to service-oriented business where pleasing the customer requires many facets. Students, academicians and business houses are finding it feasible to grow a breed that comes equipped with multi-tasking abilities.
The Generation T approach also adds much-needed pragmatism to many Indians.
"In India, education is not vocational. Only when education is given to a student according to his aptitude will the right talent be developed," says Ganesh Natarajan, chairman of IT industry association Nasscom and CEO of Zensar Technologies Ltd.
According to an industry estimate, only 13 to 15 per cent of graduates are directly employable.
"The situation cannot improve unless the academia and the industry come together to device the necessary curriculum to fill the void," says Neelam Bavane of PES Institute of Technology, Bangalore, which has tied up with IBM. While the institute will provide computer skills, IBM has devised a strategy to impart global skills that involve cultural knowledge and also inter-personal skills that techies are often found to lack.
In the T-Shaped world, vertical skills can be added to a traditionally horiztonal course like an MBA.
For instance, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies University (NMIMS), Mumbai inked a pact with Max New York Life Insurance to start a post-graduate diploma in business management with specialisation in the insurance industry.
Dr NM Kondap, Vice Chancellor, NMIMS University, who has been associated with this program, said "The course is designed…to enable them to take on challenges from the very first day at work."
IT and IT-enabled service companies such as Cognizant and Zensar have in-house facilities to develop Generation T. Cognizant add behavioural skills to traditional IT-centric faces like technology and project management.
At the Zensar Centre for Business Innovation, the company trains students to industry specifications and adds tools to deal with specific business situations.