Nasscom Says Only 25% Graduates Employable, Is There A Solution?


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?

  1. kiran_ks says

    “Nasscom Says Only 25% Graduates Employable, Is There A Solution?”
    This is a very interesting topic and I would like to thank Track.In for publishing it. Although I completed my engineering degree long back from a reputed National Institution and have been working in the US currently, I look for blogs, discussions and debate on this topic.
    First of let us deal with facts (the “AS-IS”) squarely before jumping into what it (the “To-Be”) should be.
    In India, with 100 Crore people (with at least 35% under 25 years of age) both parents and students mainly look for “better” opportunities and prospects. Majority of them don’t want to worry too much about sports, extra-curricular activities and leadership skills etc. but just want to focus on getting a “good” job and hopefully settle abroad. With government jobs reducing in number people are increasingly looking at private companies especially at IT / ITES industry who hire truck loads of people with better salary and perks.
    Traditionally, a majority of the engineering & other professional degree colleges have been owned by people/institutions that enjoy money /caste / political influence rather than any vision for the youth (barring a few exceptions). It is a secure business with monopoly status with little or no competition because the inflow is humongous. That’s why none of these private institutions (with a very few exceptions) do any research or own intellectual capital. They hire lecturers paying very low salaries and get bad quality in the bargain who have neither motivation nor abilities. A lecturer mentioned to me that he joined because he didn’t get other jobs. The bottom line is that EDUCATION (as we know it) is BUSINESS.
    Today we hear about foreign universities coming to India in big numbers. Whatever be their “brochure talks” their objective is to tap into huge market opportunities. Some of these are really reputed institutions, of course.
    In spite of these issues, the cost of a professional degree in India is very low. A lot of NRIs give “lectures” on how bad higher education system is in India but without that “low cost” degree they would not be here in the first place! The main problem in the system is lack of STANDARDIZATION and PARITY in terms of curriculum, evaluation and gradation. Therefore, even if some institutions do a great job, their “products” (students) get mixed and diluted with those who cheat the system.
    The syllabus, examinations and evaluations are managed by universities under UGC guidelines. There is a plethora of problems, corruption and inefficiency by the university administration. There is also a “slow-to-market” approach. Students study FORTRAN or C++ when the market is blazing ahead with Java and newer technologies (just mentioned as an example).
    Coming to the question of “employability”; it is a loosely defined term. Certainly educational environment is not adequate to prepare a student to take up the challenges of the industry. Team work should be emphasized in schools and colleges while they do exactly the opposite. They promote individual academic excellence. Lecturers would have not worked in any industry, so their vision is totally different. However, an educational institution can do only “so much” and expecting too much is also not right.
    The government must pass legislation on private sector to intake interns for at least 6months with a small stipend or at least on “No-Pay-No-Fee” basis.
    A few decades back, employers thought it was their responsibility to train and orient freshmen but today (particularly) IT companies want “off the shelf” finished products partly because IT is a fast moving industry and secondly these companies are plain greedy. “Why grow crops, cook and eat when we can cut flesh and feast (that’s the motto although there are many companies who invest in training)”.
    Finally, the good news is that in future (by Year 2020 or so) 20% of the English speaking technology professionals globally will be Indian. This is a dream-cum-true for many middle-class families who aspire that their children will be globe trotters one day!
    Beginning of Career Life Cycle
    In the words of Dilip Saraf (Top notch Career coach, Speaker and Writer) “the first 5 years in a career evolution after the degree (the 1st stint) is very important in setting the personal brand as a subject matter expert in a particular area be it electronic circuit designer, copywriter or layer. By the time a professional is around 30 years of age s/he should have enough hands-on individual contributors experience to call oneself an expert in it. Then s/he can move towards management of teams (depending on his/her aptitude for it)”. This is the beginning of career life cycle. However, there are a number of exceptions and variations to it. There is another school of thought which states that we live in “post career” age. (This will be a much wider discussion).
    What are the gaps?
    In the final analysis, the gaps are (1) learning soft skills, communication skills, marketable employment skills and communication skills, (2) learning professionalism and the importance of team work (3) being able to understand what one’s strengths, non-strengths and motivational triggers are so they can choose and focus on the right career path early on. By the way there is no need to teach today’s generation on blogging, and using Twitter or Facebook which are all fads.
    Another important observation of mine has been that colleges (educational institutions) are all too eager to push students to campus placements to show good numbers. They hardly give any opportunity to kindle entrepreneurial spirit in them or help them explore it (except in business schools perhaps). This is the right age to bring out young “Dhirubhais” and it requires special programs to be deployed by educational institutions.
    There is definitely good opportunity for career “finishing” schools and there are several of them in major cities. One has to watch and see how the Indian society (well known for its reliance and ability to learn quickly) adapts to changing world.
    I would like to thanks everyone for your participation.

    (Send comments or feedback to [email protected] © Copyright).

  2. Pradeep says

    For sure there is a big gap. Most of the engg/bca/mca are not work ready and specifically for small companies where they don’t have proper 6 months or 3 months training, it is hard for them to recruit. I am going through this and find candidates who hold good degree and are really not work ready even as a fresher.

  3. Pradeep says

    For sure there is a big gap. Most of the engg/bca/mca are not work ready and spefifically for small companies where they don’t have proper 6 months or 3 months training, it is hard for them to recruit. I am going through this and find candidates who hold good degree and are really not work ready even as a fresher.

  4. Amit says

    Still we have lots of unemployable people working in Indian IT industry. And unfortunately most of them are managers.

  5. Altaf Rahman says

    I dont know how to comment on this but I feel, the core issues are same in this article point and that of the earlier article “China better than India in Language proficiency”.

    Kids are not able to see the “bigger picture”. Or rather I would put it this way. The system is not sufficient to make kids see “bigger picture”, in what ever field of education it is.

    You may say I am talking about every thing except the core subject. But I insist to say this.

    Everybody might have heard the following :
    Question : “I want to start a business. Which one do you think is better?”
    Answer : “In India there are three businesses which are risk free. 1. Schools, 2. Hospitals, 3. Restaurants. There is no compitition at all in these. Even if you have dozen of them every street, people will come”

    Now some people believe this with their heart. They start schools in a 2 Bed room apartment. They argue “If the teacher is teaching the same thing in the reputed school with a campus and here, what difference it makes?” It is difficult to answer such argument. All I can say is the school is missing the “bigger picture”. If you say the school with campus has sports facility, the 2BR school will argue that sports are spoiling the focus on studies and sports are not required. They argue that debates are not necessary, they argue that labs are not necessary if theory is strong, so on so forth. The difference is the “bigger picture” which can neither be taught nor imposed. During various activities of a normal regular school it can be gained subconciously.

    In the other article of English proficiency also what is lacking is the “bigger picture”. I do not believe that China is ahead of India. But I can say what is the problem in India.

    For us knowledge in English is just knowing alphabets, words, composing words to make sentences. If you are among a group of your buddies and in a jovial mood and discussing everything under the sun. Just try to remember how you talk in your native language. You not only discuss topics, but make jokes, tell proverbs befitting the occation etc. Now imagine you are sitting among people of other states who dont know ur language. You try very hard to compose sentences in either hindi or english. In the tension, all the fun goes out of the window, no more jokes, no more proverbs. Just topic and sentenses. This is what I consider the “bigger picture”. Once you can do those like in your own language, you can consider yourself proficienct in English.

    Again I am not saying that Chinese do these better than us. Just showing our weakness.

    1. Ankit says

      Thanks for your comment as always Altaf (though it did take me sometime to co-relate)

      What i find interesting is the use “system is the problem”. Even Madhav touched upon it and i am wondering if somehow the later part of the article escaped from everyone. Yes, Schools are run as business entities, they may not be able to provide the bigger picture but its a behemoth of a system and who is gonna change it as long as the system works the way it is. My 2 cents were based to highlight that the students are very much part of this system and it is there future at stake here. So, instead of leaving it to the school/college to tell them their future path there should be enough drive from them to discover and strive for what lies ahead

  6. Madhav Shivpuri says

    Hi Ankit,

    I think that this is a very big problem in India. Just churning out graduates by the thousands annually should not be the goal. They just join the job interview queues without bringing much to the table as compared to the graduate 5 years before them who could also be standing in the same (just some exaggeration!). But what are the up-to-date skills that matter to the industry? Who researches and publishes them? Who takes such information and joins courses/ interships/ diplomas to hone their skills? Parents just worry about their children falling in the top 10 or 20 percent quartile in each stage of education, but not how their skills are applicable to the work force.

    I think this is where the medical field i.e., general physician or dentist is better placed compared to his Engineering counterparts as one can graduate and be able to diagnose/ treat an illness or fix teeth right after graduation. There is a huge potential to build such a workforce and I have been itching to do something here. If and when I return to India probably… but definitely there is a huge need.

    1. Ankit says

      Madhav, agree to everything you are saying. But then blaming the system always seems the right way. As far the parent pressure goes, i can tell you that the current student population is better off in knowing what is it that they want to do. I see some of the college folks on twitter writing blogs, freelancing etc. No one can you train you for that, the onus has to be on students on make that effort.
      You are right in identifying the gap here but then again a lot will depend on how students are influenced/motivated to step out of the ‘attend classes-get marks’ rut. Wish you all the luck if you do decide to make inroads to solve this problem :-)

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