It’s admission season in colleges in India — a season of soaring hopes and great expectations! Students and their families believe that admission in a good college and a sufficiently marketable degree will, in about four to five years’ time, produce an impressive, job-worthy adult. Right?
Wrong! Or maybe, only partly right!
College education and a degree are great weapons to have in your armoury, right! But, there are other little moves too you must master to surge ahead in the battle of life.
One of India’s fastest growing sectors is information technology. It is a sector that fuels the dreams of the vast, and growing, Indian middle class. High salaries, comfortable work environments and surface gloss make it the most desirable of all industries. However, of the five million graduates India produces annually, only 53 per cent are employable.
And at this point the link between a graduation degree and job-worthiness snaps. Why are just about half the graduates capable of being employed? What about the others? Do their degrees and years of labour count for nothing? What is their road to job-heaven?
The above statistic has been revealed in a National Employability Report prepared by Aspiring Minds, an employability solutions company. The figure is based on computer adaptive tests conducted on 60,000 graduates. The graduates were tested for communication skills in English, computer knowledge, analytical, cognitive skills and basic accounting knowledge.
The company concludes that inadequate English communication skills and computer skills are key factors standing in the way of young graduates and their dream jobs. Most of these aspiring job seekers come from smaller towns in Haryana, UP, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.
The report also reveals that cities from where the graduates acquire their degrees also influence their employability. Employability is maximum in the larger Tier-I cities, those with over 250000 population. The drop in employability is seen to be sharpest for jobs of analysts and jobs in corporate communication, those that require a high degree of cognitive skills and English communication skills.
Close to 84 per cent of graduates were found to lack the right levels in cognitive ability in order to qualify for an analyst role and 90 per cent of the graduates surveyed did not meet the required proficiency levels in English communication.
Professional courses, too, did not fare any better. The National Employability Report on Engineering Graduates, released by Aspiring Minds, shows that out of the 500000 engineers graduating from various engineering colleges across the country every year, only 17 per cent are employable by the IT services sector. The report was based on a sample of more than 55,000 engineering students from 250 colleges chosen from the length and breadth of the country.
It is not just the technical and theoretical knowledge that the engineering graduates lack. Companies, which place more emphasis on soft skills, are also shocked at the quality of engineers. “Engineers have to interact with customers. I have come across candidates who cannot draft a straight mail in English that has to be sent to their customers,” says Puneet Kumar Pandey, Senior Director, Talent Management Group, HCL Technologies. “Written, verbal communication and etiquette have now become a major part of the selection criteria,” he said.
While these reports tell us unhappy truths about the future of our children, they are also the ‘stitch-in-time’ flags. The little things, what multinational corporations term as ‘soft skills,’ must be taught to college-going young adults sooner rather than later. Fluent and focussed written and verbal communication skills, social manners, cross-cultural etiquette… all these are just as important in helping your teenager land that dream job, four years from now. So go on, let the REAL education begin!
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