The higher education system in India has grown phenomenally in the past few decades. However, the system is still plagued with the overriding concern of unemployability. New developments in science and technology, changing structure of job markets, globalization and the ever-expanding competitive environment are revolutionizing the scene and seem to be the new integrals. These in turn make new demands and pose fresh challenges. The interdependence and convergence of world economy makes it imperative for the Indian higher education system to rise to the challenge and provide the industry, with appropriately skilled human power, with the bandwidth to thrive in the new dynamics.
Contrary to the popular belief, we do not have a job crisis; rather we have a skill crisis. Only 42 percent of employers worldwide believe that the new graduates are adequately prepared for facing work situations. And in some cases, seniors from corporate further slash down the employability figure to an appalling 10 percent in most of the disciplines. The crux of the matter ï¿½ we are in short supply of relevantly skilled people.
Out of sync
The concept of industry-academia connection has been flogged to death and yet somewhere our education system has failed to keep pace with industry needs. Academia and industry have been investing time, effort, and expertise to raise a reservoir of talent that will man the industry in the days to come, yet there exists a gap. We need more industry-involvement in the academic world. When industry experts share inputs in content and curriculum, and mentor the students on different aspects, at the end, industry is more likely to get its needs fulfilled. Together, the two have to create pathways to develop talent that is in harmony with the industry requirements.
Need to Focus on Application
We need to couple the traditional disciplines of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and commerce with their applications in the new economy and with adequate field based experience to enhance knowledge with skills and develop appropriate attitudes. Educators need to enrich the academic experience with a wider array of course options and out-of-the classroom experiences.
Design Thinking, Cross Disciplinary approach and Innovation
The holistic approach of design thinking with its signature human-centred approach works on a matrix of innovative thought and activities. A thorough understanding of the issue through direct observation, configuring solutions designed to meet the particulars of any given situation to deliver solutions with optimum efficacy, heavily draw on innovation and design thinking - the two have to be ingrained well in our pedagogy. We need to work more closely with business to generate and exploit innovative ideas.
Along with the core constructs and craft equal emphasis has to be given to personality development and soft skills such as communicating with impact and working collaboratively, with different mindsets in cross disciplinary teams and under other peculiarities towards a common goal. Some very crucial elements include team-spirit, problem solving, self-management, knowledge of the business, good interpersonal and communication skills, ability to use own initiative, to comply and to lead where needed.
Leadership, teamwork and communication skills are the essential trio. Education should instil these along with a sense of social responsibility as it prepares one for life. Young minds can be trained in these with proper projects, assignments and exposure.
The wonders of cross-fertilization of ideas unfolded beautifully during the ï¿½2014 Interdesign Mumbaiï¿½ workshop, a collaborative initiative of WeSchool and the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid), when, 30 designers from India and 8 other countries with different design competencies came together to address some of the social and infrastructure challenges facing the growing city of Mumbai. And the best part- the universal applicability of the prototypes under similar conditions.
Give a Boost to STEM
Another very important emerging skill set is the STEM skills. These include Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Crucial is expertise with numbers, relating these to the job on hand. Linguistic skills to communicate effectively using technology and a scientific temperament always keep us unbiased and balanced. There is a tectonic change in the economy towards technology based skills; it makes the career oriented STEM education a more pragmatic choice.
Education should result in a harmonious existence; integrate us with the world we live in, better evolved towards our rights and responsibilities as we SUCCESSFULLY realize our career aspirations. There may be many reasons to get a good education, but most significantly it must provide a stepping- stone to a promising and successful career.
About the Author
Dr Uday Salunkhe is the Group Director of the Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai and Bangalore. The academician feels that any study of higher educational scenario will bring to the fore a number of glaring anomalies that plague it; the most disturbing of these is the mismatch between our educational system and the job skills employers need.