Ruchi Shah hails from a low-income family in Raipur. Like many of her peers in her engineering college, Ruchi was not sure about her job prospects, given the inadequacy of her technical skills required in the IT services and software industry, mediocre communication skills and lack of self-confidence. Fortunately, she heard of Innolat Technologies during her college and joined its course on Android App Development. “Today I am able to financially support my family through my job” she says happily. Ruchi works with a leading software company in Pune and draws an annual salary of 4.5 Lakh Rupees. At Innolat she learned the latest technologies, improved her communication skills and took several mock interviews that gave her much-required confidence. All this helped her become job-ready and thus a highly employable candidate within a year.
Like Ruchi, millions of students graduating from colleges desire to find a job of their liking after completing several years of mainstream education. However, the reality is quite disturbing. Consider this: Only 7% of engineering graduates in India are found employable. This reveals a big problem today’s youth are grappling with. It also affects employers since they have to train their new hires before they assign work to them. Indian companies spent USD 331 per employee on training and development as per a 2011 study conducted by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and Harvard Business Publishing (HBP). Thus the problem of employability is a grave challenge to economic productivity, socio-economic equality and ultimately the overall development of our nation.
Today, there is an ever-growing dependence on technology & automation in almost all sectors of industry. University curriculum is woefully unable to match the rate of change in technology. Remaining up-to-date with latest technology trends is increasingly becoming difficult for colleges bound by demands of the degree program. Problem of employability becomes more pronounced for students from Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities. Most often they are far away from centers of business and industry robbing them of practical exposure and professional network. Moreover, as compared to their city peers, these students have difficulty with communication skills required by business.
There is an ever increasing demand for courses that are focused on learning and job placements. Several offline training institutes, online learning platforms, certification providers and skills assessment and recruitment portals are trying to address this need. However making graduates employable is a complex jigsaw that needs a holistic understanding of the problem.
Employability of a graduate is directly influenced by a combination of his technical skills and behavioral skills like his aptitude, logical reasoning, interpersonal communication and ability to work in a team. IT services and software product development companies insist on high-degree of technical skills in their hires while KPOs and BPOs are more inclined towards effective communications skills. Even core manufacturing jobs hire candidates who have working knowledge of latest software technologies.
A holistic approach to solving the problem of employability should incorporate assessment of the gaps in a student, customized courses which combine a student’s preferences with industry need, a mix of online and offline modes of learning and a platform to find suitable jobs and get noticed by potential employers. Personalized Blended Learning qualifies as probably the most optimum approach to achieve this.
A vast majority of the 1.4 Million engineers passing out colleges in Non-metro cities of India are clueless about various career avenues in the industry and the skills needed to access them. They are unaware of their own strengths and preferences. This makes them highly apprehensive about their prospects of finding the right job. In such a situation, personalized recommendations based on a set of screening tests can guide them in the right direction.
During the process of learning, access to customized courses and instant query resolution through a mix of online and offline channels can prove to be very effective at handholding students. Personalization is the key here. No two students may have the exact same course content since they may not have the same level of skills. Helping students to quickly find answers is another crucial aspect. Imagine a student looking for answers to his course- related queries. It would really help him if he can browse through carefully curated online discussion forum as well as personally discuss with his trainers and mentors in a classroom. Giving alternatives that are both convenient and complementary can ensure students are comprehensively mentored and trained.
Focus on Employability
There are myriad learning courses available through online portals, mobile-based apps and classroom-based training institutes. However, hardly anyone is focused on making students employable as a business goal. This can happen only if there is a continuous emphasis on imparting a combination of technical and behavioral skills that improve employability of students. While pure online courses suffer from abysmal completion rates (as low as 10%) due to lack of personal handholding, offline-only courses are most often difficult to personalize and instantly update.
Innolat Technologies based in Raipur follows a personalized blended learning approach through its year-long courses to improve the employability of its students. To ensure this goal, it insists on submission of projects of practical value to award completion certificates. For example students of mobile software development course, get their final certificates only after they create an Android app.
Win-Win for Students and Employers
Employers are interested in having easy access to a pool of potential candidates whose skills in different areas can be profiled and ranked. This works equally well for students searching for suitable job opportunities. Innolat’s ILrnn (Blended Leaning Platform) for instance ranks its students based on their attendance, test scores and project work. This information is of great utility to companies looking for fresh hires. While job assistance is a key feature of many online and offline courses, a blended learning approach optimizes and links skills assessment and learning with job placement thus offering an end-to-end solution to the problem of employability of graduates.
Today, there is a plethora of avenues for upskilling and job search. However, making millions of graduates passing out of Indian colleges every year employable needs a different approach towards looking at the problem. It needs to go beyond developing good quality course content and focus more on the most optimum way of delivering it while keeping a hawk eye on churning out employable graduates. Blended Learning may be the answer.