Nasscom, the IT/ITES industry association has said that,
Of the general pool of graduates across all streams only 25 per cent have employable skills. When we look specifically at tech graduates then only 35-40 per cent are readily employable
The statistics paint a grim picture especially with IT/ITES industry being one of the mainstays on Indian economy (~6.4% contribution to GDP). The IT/ITES industry currently employs nearly 2.5 million people and with the pace the industry is growing, the demand for graduate talent is increasing at a rapid pace.
The reasons cited for the employability of graduates is nothing new and has been known for quite sometime. The lack of ‘Job Ready’ skills in the course curriculum in majority of colleges and the assessment system with high weightage on theoretical competencies instead of practical know-how is definitely a cause of concern.
On how the employability of graduates goes further low while considering product development and R&D roles makes for a different post altogether but for now i am going to focus on general employability.
One of the recent hiring trend in the IT industry has seen the companies looking beyond technology degree holders (B.Tech/B.E.) and considering fresh graduates (B.Sc, BCA). This clearly suggests that the companies are not looking for highly specialized technical skills but rather graduates who can be made job-ready with little or no training.
Based on my personal experience, i think the gap that one needs to fill while transitioning from a college graduate and an IT fresher is not so much technical or job specific skill-set but more to do with soft skills. Soft skills here go beyond communication skills but also include presentability, professional conduct, timeliness and something that i personally think colleges seldom promote “Team Work”. I might be generalizing here but i think a lot of colleges fail miserably when it comes to imbibing these traits in students.
Now assuming, i am even marginally correct in identifying some of the skills needed to be Job Ready what could be the solution. Changing the education system et all is a tough ask for obvious reasons so i am going to keep the probable solutions individual centric as far as possible,
- Finishing Schools: I am not sure how the idea of finishing schools has caught up with the masses but in my opinion, it is a brilliant value add for students. These schools have a specialized focus on employment related skills and enrolling in one of these schools could prove beneficial for students while in college.
- Get on the Internet: This comes out from a personal experience and something that i regret not doing myself. When i say internet, i don’t mean the usual surfing and browsing Facebook, Orkut etc. Yes, that is important too but a more constructive use is in terms of writing blogs, networking with like minded industry folks etc. With the kind of free garage workshops and barcamps, the possibilities of developing soft skills are endless not to forget the networking that can get you a job itself without relying on campus placements.
- Value Internships: I wish i had understood the value of internship while i was in college.A lot of us (students) tend to consider internships as mere formalities (at least I did). When i look back now, to have actually worked and gotten my hands dirty while doing my internship at a company would have done be so much good in at least experiencing what a job environment feels like.
- Work part-time/freelance: Now one might say that a student should rather be focused on studies then worry about working and making money while in college. Not that i disagree but believe me, working with an event management company during college taught me so much on client handling and meeting customer requirements that no amount of lectures in college would have.
In the end, i think blaming the system is not going to help the matters. No doubt the education system needs to radically transform but it is not going to happens overnight. Moreover, when it comes to employability the impetus is more on the students to do what it takes and become a qualified individual.
What are your thoughts on the sorry state of employability of Indian graduates? Do you think the colleges need to be enforced to ensure that students be job-ready or the students should do their own bit in developing skills needed to be job-ready?