Er Rajendra Shah, Chairman, SAL Technical Campus, shares his views about the issue of unemployability of fresh technical graduates
Today, employability is a far bigger challenge than unemployment. The term employability refers to the skills required to acquire and retain a job. Employability skills include not only foundational academic skills, but also a variety of attitudes and habits. A disparity exists in the types of skills taught at colleges and those that are demanded in industry. Plagued with problems like curriculum, lack of qualified faculty, poor quality of content, and notso effective examination system. Technical institutions are not able to add value to the job market. After graduation, many students fail to find employment jobs not commensurate with their qualifications. Institutions of management education in particular are deeply concerned to such an extent that their educational perspectives get distorted. High incidence of unemployment, underemployment becomes a matter of serious concern to central and state government.
As per NASSCOM Press Information note, there are already growing concerns about parts of the existing available talent pool being unsuitable for employment due to a skill gap. ‘Employability Skill Index’ was done by Purple Leap, a talent management institute. It covered 600 students from 15 engineering colleges in India. It tested three key employability skills – communication, problem solving and technical skills. When it came to communication skills of engineering students, 80 percent of them did not meet the qualifying criteria. It is understood that communication skills are a problem area especially when it comes to students in tier-II cities. However, it is quite ironical that most of the students in the 20 percent lot, who are fine as far as communication skills are concerned, do not actually end up getting hired, because of either lack of problem solving skills or technical skills. Lack of adequate problem solving skills is one of the biggest gap leading to students not getting enough technical jobs in the industry and in many case, having to settle for ‘non-technical’ role, after an engineering education in tier-II cities.
Last year, in a column of The New York Times, a senior partner at a wellknown consulting firm brought to the mainstream what people within India Inc. always knew – a major chunk of the nation’s graduates and post graduates were unemployable. The skills and the aptitude required by the industry were found wanting though grades and marksheets were aplenty. Some of the basic requirements like a fair knowledge of English and technical know-how were not being met by India’s secondary and higher education system especially in tier II & III cities. In 2012, 40 percent of fresh university graduates joining the India-based IT service companies were women – up from 28 percent only three years ago. A significant percentage of these women were from tier II and smaller cities. The culture in these smaller cities and towns often restricts a number of students, particularly girls from moving to bigger cities to pursue their education. Accordingly, many deserving talented employable candidates miss out on the opportunities found in tier I cities.
Recently, the Indian government announced the goals of employing 500 million youth by 2020 and the National Skill Development Corporation was set up for this aim. But experts know that the government can’t pull this off alone. The private sector would have to pitch in to solve its own headache. If the initiative is taken from all the stakeholders, the youth from tier II cities will become more employable as compared to their counterparts in metro cities.