Addressing the Education to Employment Challenge

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By Sonya Hooja

Sonya HoojaIn a survey conducted by Ernst & Young, only 25 percent of Indian professionals are considered employable by multinationals and this difficulty of Indian employers to fill job vacancies has increased to 67 percent in 2012 (compared with 16 percent in 2011). There is a dire need for professionals with practical understanding and adequate skills to make the required contribution to the industry.
It is widely held that knowledge, skills, and resourcefulness of people are critical to sustain development, economic, and social activity in a knowledge society. Given the current high-paced growth and dynamic investment climate in India, the demand for knowledge workers with high levels of technical and soft skills will only increase. Expansion is taking place across sectors: banking and financial services (BFSI), retail, manufacturing, pharma, SMBs,  outsourcing/ offshoring companies, service. Over the past fifteen years, India has produced 1.6 million professionals and faces the uphill task of producing another 0.8 million in the next two years.
Statistics show that in spite of having the largest youth population in the world, India has a glaring shortage of qualified professionals. In any industry, it takes over three months to find the right candidate. It is ironical that in a country where a million students graduate every year, they are unable to find suitable employment.
Education has become very general and broad based which is why students may have a good overview but are not specialists. On an average, the curriculum is refreshed only once in every 5-10 years but the industry is extremely dynamic. Being caught in the increasingly interconnected and competitive environment, institutions are under pressure to provide more industry-relevant education to increase the employability quotient for the students.
Universities and educational institutions have been unable to update their curriculum in tune with the high speed changes taking place in the world of finance and technology. Hence, the students churned out are not equipped to meet the current industry requirements and often companies have to incur additional expenses (time and monetary) to train new hires. Besides this, the industries also evaluate competencies ranging soft skills, team building, overall attitude, and values.
Traditional model teacher/trainer and content/tool centric education has proven to be inadequate to meet the growing job requirements in the 21st century. Educational institutes need to focus more on practical education, based in strong, relevant case studies and market-driven curriculum. Vocational and private institutes need to bridge the gap between academia and the industry by providing knowledge and skill sets which are essential in today’s competitive working environment. They must provide industry relevant programmes that would offer successful specialised careers to India’s youth and at the same time give corporates and the broader industry a source of sustainable talent.
Hence, the overall focus of education is changing where students and colleges are gradually realising that general education does not cut it today and there is a huge need for specialised knowledge.

(The author is Co-founder & Director of Imarticus Learning)

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