India is facing an emergency situation as far as employability is concerned. The country has over 350 universities, 18,000 colleges and 6,000 ITIs, which every year come out with about 500,000 technical graduates, of which, according to NASSCOM estimates, 75 per cent are not easily employable. Our institutions annually produce around 2.3 million graduates, of which 90 per cent are considered unfit for employement.
“The employability issue is centered on two challenges. The first is lack of access to education and skills, which by and large is a challenge peculiar to our rural masses. The second is rigour in education quality standards that touches almost all the higher education institutions. In other words, this challenge is independent of the demographic and economic profile of students that institutions cater to,” says Poonam Sethi, associate professor, BCom, Hindu College. She goes on to add, “Owing to the second challenge today there is an acute mismatch between a student’s salary expectations and his/her skill sets and knowledge.”
The issue of aligning skills with jobs has been recurring for quite a while. Talking about possible solutions, Rekha Navneet, associate professor, philosophy, Gargi College says, “India has one the largest education systems in the world, but there is an urgent need to modernise it. Moreover, we need more institutions in diverse fields like agriculture, biotechnology and human resources, among others, if we have to reap the advantages of our demographic profile.” It is also important to ensure equitable distribution and access to skill development opportunities, she says.
Sethi says the best solution for educational institutions is to offer competency-based courses. “This is already being done in the open learning system, where the attempt is to provide modular courses which have multiple entry and exit points and facilities for-on-the job training. Institutions have to develop courses as per the requirements of the employers. In other words, specific competencies have to be mapped and evaluation systems have to focus on these practical competencies.”
According to Navneet, there’s also the need to train more teachers and re-skill them according to today’s requirements. “Young people should be motivated to train as educationists and trainers. This will partly solve the unemployment problem and add to the system a large number of people who can facilitate skill transfer to students. In short, there is a need for faculty enablement, faculty development and faculty recruitment,” she explains.
Given the fact that our educational institutions lack on the employability quotient students need to do a few things themselves to ace their chances of securing employment. Firstly it helps to choose sectors and professions where the demand for manpower is relatively more. Meeta Nanda, a placement coordinator in a Noida based recruitment firm informs, “There is a huge demand for engineers, particularly civil engineers, in the construction sector and software professionals in the telecom industry. In the past three years there has been an unprecedented demand for cyber lawyers, ethical hackers, nutritionists, fitness trainers, paramedics, human resource professionals with an academic background of industrial psychology and counsellors.” About the sectors that do not have adequate employment bandwidth, she says, “Aviation and banking are some dismal sectors at the moment.”
Students also need to be conversant with the broad nuances of the sector they want to venture in. “It is important to follow industry-specific news and keep oneself updated in terms of trends and developments. This, among other things, ensures an informed approach while tackling questions at job interviews. One can also do an assessment of his her/her competencies vis a vis the role and bridge gaps by taking appropriate courses,” says Nanda. She concludes, “Moreover a professional approach coupled with good communication skills is an important prerequisite of all technical and non technical sectors. Infact according to recent industry reports, many of our engineers are unemployable as they lack communication skills.”