Preparing Quality Workforce Industry as a Partner Providing Innovative Leadership
Febuary 2009

Preparing Quality Workforce Industry as a Partner Providing Innovative Leadership

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This article examines the efforts of Everonn Systems India Ltd., an industry dealing with education, collaborating with educational institutions to train the younger generation to adapt to the complex demands of a work environment effortlessly. It believes, quality workforce will increase profitability and enhance the corporate image of the industry.

Fresh graduates find it difficult to make a smooth transition from college to work environment. In India there is a great shortage of skilled manpower. According to industry estimates, only a quarter of all graduates are employable and about 80% of job seekers in employment exchange are without any professional skills. With half of its 1.2 billion population aged under 25, how can India possibly be short of manpower? The problem lies in quality and not quantity of manpower (Duggal, 2005).

The major reason for the above trend is that the students are not specifically prepared by educational institutions for the demands of a work environment. Several studies indicate that enhancing the skills of the workforce is primarily achieved through education and training (Borghans, Green & Mayhew, 2001). Lee Harvey stated that the primary purpose of higher education is to transform students by enhancing their knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities while simultaneously empowering them as lifelong critical, reflective learners (Lee Harvey, 1999). Thus universities are responsible for providing graduates with fundamental workplace skills, contributing to their achievement as a young adult.  In the light of the above introduction, it was thought meaningful to explore –

  1. The importance of different skills as per the employer's viewpoint
  2. Identify the employability skills that the graduates are lacking from an employer's perspective
  3. Identify the skills of the graduates which could be improved after receiving proper training
  4. Suggest recommendations for future action with a focus on skills required for the present workforce.

Review of Literature

According to research conducted by the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, “more than half of our young people leave school without the knowledge or foundation required to find and hold a good job” (SCANS 1991, p. xv). A review of the literature indicated that employers' dissatisfaction is not primarily with the technical skills of the young graduates however they are dissatisfied with their non-technical skills or employability skills.

According to Buck and Barrick (1987), “employability skills are the attributes of employees, other than technical competence, that make them an asset to the employer”.  Sir Brian Corby (1992) says that through a systematic analysis of all the types of jobs undertaken by graduates and other trainees in their first two years of employment, the following key attributes have been identified: oral/written communication skills, listening skills, job motivation skills, attention to detail, decision making, management of time and work, job commitment and teamwork. According to Mary Ann McLaughlin (1992), the employers that were surveyed identified the need for employees to have positive attitudes and behaviour, strong communication skills and the ability to work well with others in a team environment.

According to industry estimates, only a quarter of all graduates are employable and about 80% of job seekers in employment exchange are without any professional skills

According to Donald Super (1957), there are five stages in the Theory of Vocational Development. The stage which is of interest to us is the Exploration Stage, which is between 15 to 24 years, where the individual begins to develop an awareness of occupations. The theoretical framework for the present study is Chickering and Reisser's (1993) Theory of Identity Deve-lopment. Chickering and Reisser's model focuses on the developmental tasks a student undergoes during the transition from an adolescent to a young adult and the development task he/she needs to determine before a career option can be made.

India produces 400,000 technically trained graduates a year, but many are deficient in areas of specific technical skills, teamwork, and language (Duggal, 2005). As the level of preparedness of young graduates' employability skills could affect their professional development, it is the responsibility of the educational institutions to collaborate with the employers (industry) to conceive and implement a programme which would provide the students the necessary employability skills to aid them in their career aspirations.

Hypothesis

  1. Education does not provide the students with the necessary skills to help them make a smooth transition from college to work.
  2. Training improves the employability skills of the candidates.
  3. Industry and education collaboration promotes quality workforce.

Sample and Method of Study

Following an extensive review of the literature, two questionnaires were developed. The questionnaires used a four-point Likert-type scale that focused on the objectives of the research: determine the importance of different skills as per the employer's viewpoint; and identify the skills that the employers found lacking in the graduates. 

The respondents for this study were (a) graduate employees (in the age group of 24 to 27 years) and (b) employers of different sectors (education, hotel industry, pharmaceuticals, marketing). The questionnaires were e mailed to 50 employees and 50 employers. Employers numbered 21 and 30 graduate employees responded to the questionnaires. 60% of the employees were Arts graduates and 40% were Science graduates. 24% of the employers were heads of a department 48% were in the managerial position; and 28% were in the director position.  All the questionnaires were found useful for the analysis.

Findings

  • The first objective was to determine the level of importance of different employability skills as per the employer's perspective. 

The rating of the skills is as follows: 4 = very important/ 3 = important/ 2 = less important/ 1 = not at all important. 

Reading from the figure, we can conclude that the employers feel that all the skills have almost equal weightage ranging from important to very important. 

Developing integrity: 76% of the employers had rated this ability as the most important skill and 24% had rated it as an important skill to have. 

Interpersonal skills: Intrapersonal skills: 62% employers had rated ability to behave well in a social setup as very important; 57% had rated ability to persevere and not give up as very important; 52% are of the opinion that ability to work well in a stressful environment was very important and 57% felt that possessing good sense of dressing and personal hygiene was very important; however 57% rated ability to respond positively to constructive criticism as just important.

Developing purpose: 57% felt that ability to know one's strengths and weakness was very important and 52% felt that ability to set goals and priorities in work was very important. The knowledge of existing career opportunities and improvement of self by seeking new challenges was given equal ratings of important and very important.

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