The wide gap between the talent available from colleges and the skills required by the Industry has made employability a major concern. With skill development becoming the buzzword, efforts are afoot to make students job ready
India is among the fastest growing economies of the world. The 11th Five Year Plan clearly states, “The thrust of the plan will be on creating a pool of skilled manpower in appropriate number with adequate skills, in line with the requirements of the ultimate users of manpower such as the industry, trade and service sector.” In the 2012-2013 Union Budget, the government has doubled its allocation of funds for skill development to Rs 1,000 crore, raising the corpus of the National Skills Development Fund to Rs 2,500 crore. The National Skill Development Corporation has identified more than 21 key sectors that need immediate focus. The notable among these key sectors are textile, retail, healthcare manufacturing, construction and automotive.
The big question is ‘Is the youth in India industry-ready’?
There, no doubt is an assembly line of young graduates populating the job seekers’ queue, but their employability leaves much to be desired. A huge chunk of job seekers can’t match up to the expectations of the employers due to lack of skill training and as a result they land into a thankless job or they leave it at an early stage. Talking of an average graduate’s skills and the employability of graduates, the Planning Commission’s ‘An Approach to the 12th Five Year Plan’ titled — Faster, Sustainable and More Inclusive Growth — states, “Graduates now require the skills beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic (the 3Rs). Skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity (the 4Cs) are now important in more and more jobs. Special emphasis on verbal and written communication skills, especially in English would go a long way in improving the employability of the large and growing mass of disempowered youth.”
Talking of the current status of youth employability, Shalini Dutta, Country Head, HR VHIRE4U says, “The service, industrial and banking sectors fall in the category of high growth sectors and there is an estimated 58.6 million added jobs in the domestic economy. The knowledge and skill domains have multiplied and become more complex with time. Yet, more than 80 per cent of the resources enter the world of work without any formal or informal training. The gaps are evident at all levels of screening, with the benchmarks being lowered to meet the numbers. This is largely evident through the selection process, where our selection ratios get as poor as 1:15 at this level.”
Clearly, there exists a mismatch between employer’s expectation and the prospective employees’ skills. More often than not the employers’ have to take training interventions, Shalini adds, “Organisations partner with companies that offer services in multi-campus recruiting and training services to pick better qualified and employable resources.”
One such skill development provider is TMI e2E, Hyderabad, which is part-funded by the National Skill Development Corporation. T. Muralidharan, MD TMI e2E Academy says, “A majority of graduates and freshers are not employment ready. They lack clear reasoning, problem solving, critical thinking, analytical skills, teamwork and creativity. The college curriculum which is drafted on the British system of inventory-based education is not attuned to the industry norms.”
Amit Bansal, the co-founder and CEO, of PurpleLeap, a skill-enhancement company in Bengaluru while talking about the practical aspect of education in colleges laments, “In colleges in tier-2 and tier-3 cities almost eight out of 10 students cannot execute simple practical tasks expected from an engineering graduate. The implementation of the curriculum is so academic in nature that a computer science engineer can get a first class degree (more than 60% marks) without actually having the ability to write a simple programme. The only programmes that such a student will be able to write will be the ones that he has mugged up for exams.”
India is poised to becoming one of the youngest countries in the world. It is the skilled youth that will be the driving force behind our economic prosperity. The Annual Report to the People on Employment, Ministry of Labour and Employment, 2010 gives the big picture on this demographic forecast, “Currently, India is passing through an unprecedented phase of demographic changes. The demographic changes are likely to contribute to the ever-increasing size of the labour force in the country. The census projection report shows that the proportion of working-age population between 15 and 59 years is likely to increase from approximately 58 per cent in 2001 to more than 64 per cent by 2021. In absolute numbers, there will be approximately 63.5 million new entrants in the working age group between 2011 and 2016. Further, it is important to note that the bulk of this increase is likely to take place in the relatively younger age group of 20-35 years. Such a trend would make India one of the youngest nations in the world. In 2020, the average Indian will be only 29 years old. Comparable figures for China and the US are 37, 45 for West Europe, and 48 for Japan.”
The youth is touted to be nation builders and will aid in making India a robust economy. Well, India may not be shining yet but one can safely say that it is certainly being polished for its future role!