India, as we all know is a land of diversity- in language, in culture, in religion, in academic education, in workforce etc. However of the 12 million graduates and 1.5 million engineers passing out who are academically qualified to join the diversified workforce of the industry; at least 80-85 percent require additional skills to make them job-ready and employable. Furthermore a recent survey on skill mismatch and finding the right talent showed that up to 75 percent of employers in India have trouble finding the right people, particularly at entry levels.
Industry addresses these gaps through large investments in training, internships, shadow assignments, bench strength and other methods to make new hires job-ready and productive. An additional complexity is high levels of attrition in the entry-level (0-3 year experience) workforce, leading to expensive and repetitive cycle of hiring, training, staffing and replacement for the same role. Corporate needs job-ready resources, with good quality, high level of productivity and sustainability. Layer on unpredictable growth and volatility in the demand cycle and we have a potent mix of challenges that business and HR leaders in the services sector face.
Therefore hiring right is increasingly becoming a challenge. While prospective recruits might come armed with the right education and degree, there are other qualities that determine if a candidate is right for the job. A degree alone does not guarantee that one is a good fit. Prospective employers look for a combination of skills and abilities that are sometime intangible. These could vary from on–the–job experience to understanding of new technology platforms to more abstract abilities such as leadership and how well a candidate will perform under stress.
So the question arises on where is the gap- Are our academic courses outdated to meet up evolving industry demand? The answer to this would be that high school, graduation and engineering academics are meant to create a foundation on which students need to acquire additional skills to be job ready. These skills are built around three distinct pillars of education, experience and exposure and a structured approach based on the principles of adult learning. These skills are also multivariate including professional, technical, domain, behavioural, language, and communication. Furthermore industry recognized certifications, internships, academia-practitioner led training, practice labs, continuous assessments and counselling to ensure the desired transformation from graduates to best-in-class professionals are essential. This necessarily does not happen at colleges and it is highly recommended for students to undergo a transformational training mapped by industry stalwarts. Interestingly in India, we are at a time where students need not travel abroad to acquire these skill set and there are reputed finishing schools and training institutes with a pedagogy and legacy in ICT education.
Furthermore, there are several instances where engineers across the country and passing out from multiple tier II, III colleges land up in jobs in local levels like retail, marketing, sales etc because of their lack of exposure and grasp on softer skills. However they have great potential and once honed well they have the capability to work for India’s top companies and do well in them. Here is where, these finishing schools and training institutes offer an additional advantage. The alumni and the network they build with industry. These schools also helps in connecting with the industry and source jobs for the talented workforce which in turn is a boon for them.
We are at a great time where skill development is high on the Govt agenda. It is keen to lay the foundation for an emerging India that is rich in talent and skilled enough to outperform job requirements. It has instituted multiple initiatives like Skill India Program that is committed to the overall human resource development of the country. These include the fresh entrants to the job market, including students of vocational courses in secondary and higher secondary educational/training institutions; re-skilling or skill up-gradation of persons already engaged in an occupation; formal recognition and certification of skills of persons who have acquired skills through informal, non-formal or experiential training in any vocational trade or craft; and formal education courses leading to qualifications of NSQF Level 5 and above (including diplomas, degrees and many more).
Today India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 54 percent of the total population below 25 years of age. With Make in India expected to promote manufacturing in 25 sectors of the economy and leading tojob creation and consequently the need for skilled manpower, it will be a cumulative effort of the Govt, private players that will enable us to leverage the opportunity. Certainly, a step ahead in meeting the target of providing skills to 500 million people by 2022.
About the Author : Vijay Iyer
Vijay comes with almost a decade’s knowledge and experience in the learning and skill development space. He joined the HCL family in June 2014. As Chief Business Officer of HCL TalentCare Pvt. Ltd., Vijay is responsible for building and managing the global sales organization and driving the growth of the business. Prior to HCL, Vijay was with Deloitte as Chief Learning Officer where he led the talent development for the US firm's India offices and focused on influencing the firm's culture, developing leaders for the future and enabling their 20,000+ professionals build capability to solve issues and deliver value to clients.