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Skill deficit among Indian graduates: A pressing issue

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 , Written by Anasua Chakraborty 

The rise in the number of candidates unable to meet the industry's needs, due to lack of career-oriented knowledge and skills, is a pressing problem in today’s corporate work-space.

India Inc. is going through a near crisis situation due to lack of employable candidates. A recent NASSCOM report says that only 10% of fresh graduates in India are employable. More shocking facts have come up in the third edition of the National Employability Report, Engineering Graduates – 2014 conducted by a private employability solutions company that reveals that only18.09% engineers actually get a job.

 Further even those employed lack key skills. Of the 1.2 lakh IT/Engineering/Management candidates surveyed across multiple states, 91.82% lack programming and agorithm skills, 71.23% lack soft and cognitive skills, 60% lack domain skills, 73.63% lack English speaking and comprehension skills and 57.96% have poor analytical and quantitative skills.

 What do industry experts say on this unhealthy trend?

“Quality of education is now below par. Moreover, the curriculum in educational institutes doesn’t have any relevance to the requirements of the industry”, says Rajiv Burman, Managing Partner, Lighthouse Partners.

Validating the same, Sidharth Agarwal, Director, Spectrum Talent Management says, “The irony with the Indian education system is that every year more than 3 million students graduate but just 40-45 % of them are employable. Poor quality of teachers combined with an outdated curriculum is to be blamed for this major issue. Not much emphasis is paid on developing skills like communication, technology etc”.

Sunil Goel, Managing Director, GlobalHunt India Pvt. Ltd. explains, “It has been observed that College/university education have become very text-book centric and candidates get little to no industry exposure, whereas as employers we require candidates who have the basic technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, fast learning ability, a focused approach along with high level of integrity and stability”.

 So is this giving rise to a breach in the corporate workspace: more of an attitudinal mismatch between employer expectations and candidate expectations?

R. Anand, Vice President, Rewards, Career Management & Planning, HCL Technologies states, “A generational divide between the people already at work (The Gen X) and the lot that is yet to start their professional career (The Gen Y) is definitely prevalent. Young professionals who wish to be future ready must be prepared to learn to cope with work and life pressures as unlike their secure university life, the real world is a much harder place with fewer buffers. They need to learn to toughen up and proactively change their mind-set and priorities”.

While the obvious solution to unlock India’s much discussed demographic dividend is to empower candidates with requisite skills, the question remains: can employability skills be taught?

“Industry and education both need to work together, so that talent is not wasted. Candidates on their part should work towards acquiring industry specific skills through some skill training courses; get exposure though industry training programs to get on the job experience”, suggests Sunil Goel, Managing Director, GlobalHunt India Pvt. Ltd.

R. Anand, Vice President, Rewards, Career Management & Planning, HCL Technologies hints at few more tips that the fresh graduates can incorporate while looking for jobs, “Graduates can do simple things to become application focused. They must focus on the importance of clarity, consistency and confidence in getting across their messages or intentions while communicating - this is a key to working with people and for people in future.