It is not the lack of skills and poor education institutes, but the lack of passion to learn and poor choices that is holding India’s young grads back. Read on for interesting insights from a recent roundtable held in Mumbai.
Just when most of us were reeling from the after-effects of the McKinsey report that a majority of young Indians are unfit for employment, Raman Madhok, Group Director, Human resources, JSW Steel shared some more shocking statistics, warning us that the worst is yet to come.
India will see a deficit of 40 million high skilled and 13 million mid-skilled workers by 2030, said Madhok addressing a roundtable of educationists in Mumbai, which was attended by principals, vice chancellors and professors from all over India and the UK.
Of the 90 million low skilled labourers that will be available in the country in the next two decades, 27 million will find it difficult to find jobs, he further added.
At the discussion that aimed to find solutions to the rise in the number of unemployable graduates in India, Madhok implied that the demand for high skilled labourers is increasing by the day and if youngsters did not invest time in upgrading and learning new skills, they’d either be replaced or lose their jobs as a consequence.
Who is to be blamed for this: New universities, poor faculty or young graduates?
Read on to know what’s ailing our young graduates and what they can do to improve their chances of being hired.
Lack of passion to learn
Madhok says there is a fundamental problem confronting today’s youngsters and specifically technical professionals.
“We employ over 2,000 engineers every year. But the zest to learn is missing in present-day professionals. They don’t realise that learning is a lifelong process and does not end after they graduate or earn a degree.”
Appealing to international universities and corporate professionals to realise skill development as a continuous and sustainable process, Madhok observed that of the millions of students who graduate every year, only nine per cent are vocationally trained and rest, if they find employment are trained on the job.
“Mostly, learning happens after you graduate, and on the job. So, even if you get the job, you can’t ignore the learning process. You have to constantly and consistently upgrade and update yourself to meet the demands of the profession you are in.”
Poor career choices
If you thought skill development and training activities could alone better the situation, Prof Parasuram, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences offers the bigger picture.
“Of the millions of youngsters who graduate out of institutions every year, only 20 per cent are able to find employment at the end of their course. But what’s startling is that even among those who find employment only 50 per cent are really getting jobs that are relevant to their interest and education.”
The problem often is not the lack of skills, but the lack of proper and timely guidance at an early age combined with the lack of passion and wrong career choices.
You have to undergo timely assessments to realise your aptitude.
If you realise you are not fit for the career, you have to opt out quickly and take a remedial academic path, he suggested.
The same is true for professionals.
Real-life learning and industrial training
While it is easy to blame teachers and lack of good institutes, in Prof Craig Calhoun’s view, starting new universities will also not help improve employability.
The vice chancellor of London School of Economics said that students who don’t get into a good university must be encouraged to learn outside classrooms and from real life experiences.
“You must learn from failure and start early. When you are an undergraduate, you have more time to experiment with life. That might not be the case after you graduate.”
Vice chancellor, University of Cardiff, Prof Colin Riordan also pointed out how students can gain from industrial placements and projects while studying. “Industrial placements were mandatory in the 60s and 70s. That’s no longer the case today.Students, if they wish to succeed, must realise the importance of having professional experience combined with the aptitude to develop these skills that are relevant to their careers,” he suggested.
If you can’t find employment, generate it.
Much as we’d like to be modest, one can’t deny that India has produced over 500 first generation entrepreneurs, which in the opinion of GD Yadav, Vice Chancellor, Institute of Chemical Technology, is one of the greatest assets and example of what we are capable of.
Asha Khemka, chairperson of the Association of Colleges in India, advises students to take part in activities that directly or indirectly promote entrepreneurship.
Sharing the success story of IIM-Ahmedabad, Prof Rakesh Basant said that their students were given scores based on their performance in handling responsibilities with start-ups.
“Start-ups are great places to learn, join one,” he urged.
“You face challenges on a day-to-day basis and spending a short while will help you develop many skills that will make you job-ready,” added Basant.