With a population of over 1.2 billion and colleges churning out over a million engineering graduates every year, the supply of skilled talent should be overflowing in India. However, this is not so as the reality is that not all graduates can be employed immediately, because they lack technical skills or soft skills. According to a NASSCOM report, only 25 percent of the graduates are employable without any in-house training.
The skill gaps exist not only in the Information Technology (IT) industry but across sectors. All the stakeholders: industry, academia and government have been working towards bridging this gap for a while now. Major industry bodies like Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and NASSCOM have identified programs and undertaken several initiatives to address this issue.
Both FICCI and CII have their own skills development schemes and programs. NASSCOM\'s Sector Skill Council has been working with IT industry and education ministry to develop courses and syllabus which would make graduates industry ready. The Government of India, along with private sector, has recently set up a National Skill Development Corporation to facilitate the development and upgrading of the skills of the growing Indian workforce through skill training programs.
Almost all IT companies have their own training and development programs for graduates to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary technical and soft skills. Many companies in the industry have strong collaboration with the academia to ensure faculty members are up to date with the changes in industry and also imbibe newer and more innovative ways of teaching.
Wipro\'s Mission10x project, Infosys learning center in Mysore, SAP\'s University alliance program and IBMï¿½s Academic Initiative are a few examples of IT companiesï¿½ efforts towards bridging these skills gaps. There are many other examples available and these initiatives provide an insight into the investment companies make to address these challenges. These are long-term initiatives which would probably take a while for academia to absorb and incorporate.
Most companies have customized programs to address some of their short-term skill requirements. Apart from the usual campus connect programs with the faculty; almost all major companies these days have built a strong internship program. These programs are typically of two to six months duration and give students a good opportunity to learn about the organization, culture, markets and products. During the internship period, students are normally associated with buddies, project guides or mentors, who help them shape up their soft skills and technical skills. These internships help students to be industry ready by the time they graduate and from a companyï¿½s perspective, lessens investments on training while saving time.
Another popular way of ensuring students get good exposure to a company is through the vocational training approach. A typical vocational training course lasts for about 2-4 years and there is a tie-up with leading institute to ensure students learn while working. Students are required to work for 3-4 days in a week and attend lectures on the remaining days. The advantage of this approach is that by the time the course is completed, a student would have gained significant technical and business knowledge while also acquiring soft skills to enable them face business challenges.
An approach that has been gaining lot of popularity over the last couple of years has been coding and gaming contests. Several companies sponsor coding contests with fairly attractive rewards to identify technically proficient students. Winning these contests, sometimes, paves the way for full time employment. Consequently, more students are learning better programming skills by preparing for and entering these competitions. Gaming is another method employed to prepare recent graduates, particularly during the onboarding period. The objective behind gaming contests are to ensure that students get to learn about company\'s policies, work culture, products, and markets through games. These simple and inexpensive methods are fairly effective and help students in building a strong bond with companies.
While all of these methods and processes are effective, we believe there is need for the industry to come together, bring in all the efforts and investments under one umbrella and jointly address the challenge of skill deficiencies that exist amongst most freshers. Indeed, a lot of efforts are already being put towards this; however statistics suggest that a lot still remains to be done to make students industry ready.
Headquartered in Germany, SAP is a software corporation that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. The company has approximately 65,000 employees.
Nagraj Shriyan is the Head of Talent Acquisition at SAP India. He holds a Masterï¿½s Degree in Human Resource Development Management with a vast experience in Human Resource spanning more than 20 years.
Pallav Purkayastha is a Senior Consultant ï¿½ Talent Acquisition at SAP. He holds a Masterï¿½s Degree in Human Resource Management & Corporate Governance (MHRM&CG) with over 10 years of experience in Talent Acquisition.