India has the second-largest population and the human capital can be tapped to boost the economy. The India Skills Report that brought out recently, revealed that only 47% of the engineers are considered employable. While the numbers of employable people have shown a steady rise, a lot more can be achieved. The slow rise in employability levels promises to pave the path towards a healthier economy; but, there are hurdles left to be surmounted before we reach the goal of having efficient and highly-productive manpower.
The situation may seem a tad challenging, but the actual problem isn’t as much about the education system’s fault but is more emblematic of the skills being imparted being below average. Most organizations at the time of their recruitment feel that candidates not only lack the requisite technical skills that are out of tune with the needs of the industry, but also lack soft skills and most fail to express their views before their peers and superiors. Another major flaw commonly found is the lack of agility and inquisitiveness in candidates, a yearning for knowledge ensures that employees are alert to changes in their environment.
It is important to note here that there is a significant difference between unemployability and unemployment. In cases of unemployment, it reflects the lack of jobs in the market with the supply of candidates outstripping demand. Unemployability infers that jobs are available on a large scale in the market, but candidates are not skilled enough to meet the demands of these jobs. Organizations today largely feel that India as a country needs to improve the skills of its army of students and youth to enhance their employability. The need is being felt now, more than ever, to invest and build the knowledge capital that will enhance the way knowledge is transferred and acquired to match the needs of the various industries.
The change required
The industry at large is of the opinion that companies need not waste their resources, especially their time, in realigning the skills that candidates possess, to match that of the job requirements. They are looking at colleges to take up the responsibility of aligning the curriculum to career readiness. It is important that the curriculum is in line with industry needs and the curriculum is in tandem with industry developments.
One of the ways companies have tackled this issue is by partnering colleges to curate an industry-specific curriculum. This solution enables colleges to understand what companies expect in terms of skills, and can tailor-make the curriculum to ensure that students are industry-ready.
The government has also taken up the challenge to train and prepare the youth to be industry-ready, and it has set up numerous institutions and colleges to enhance corporate as well as vocational training. The initiative has not only increased the number of skilled youth in the country, but has also improved their employability quotient.
Employability also deals with non-technical facets of a candidate. Employers now emphasize that candidates need to be endowed with soft skills such as communication, adaptability, agility, teamwork, punctuality amongst many others. The workplace environment has evolved at a rapid pace and employers now recognize that technology evolves faster than the employee churn rate. This, in turn, means that only employees with agility and adaptability would be able to keep pace with the constant changes by reskilling or upskilling. Candidates that do not show or possess such qualities fall by the wayside during job interviews and are termed unemployable. Most often, soft skills are not something one can be taught in the workplace but needs to be developed during the academic years. The Indian education system must inculcate soft skills training during the academic course to enhance employability amongst the students from a young age.
Industry and educational institutions need to come together and curate content and data that will enable India to have a knowledge pool that can be constantly updated and shared across verticals. This shared knowledge will enhance the knowledge capital that will enhance skill development and employability amongst our workforce. The knowledge capital will increase the optimal efficiency of each individual which will definitely enhance the overall productivity, which in turn would enhance the health of the economy.
The younger generations are the future of our country and we need to take all identified measures to help keep them up to date with the changes happening all around them. The need of the hour is to focus on enhancing skills and employability amongst them by building their knowledge capital. Investing in manpower, which is one of our biggest assets, will give us a higher return on investment.
Gopal Devanahalli – CEO, MeritTrac
Gopal, an Engineer in Computer Science from BITS, Pilani and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM, Calcutta has over 24 years of professional services experience. As the CEO, Gopal drives the Business, Delivery, Technology and People strategies at MeritTrac. A sound understanding of impact of technology coupled with experience of driving Enterprise and Consumer businesses for large corporate help him power the future growth of MeritTrac. He is part of the executive team of Beyond Carlton an NGO focused
on Fire Safety.
Gopal was previously the Senior Vice President at Manipal Global Education (Manipal). He was responsible for Digital Initiatives across the company as well as the Consumer
business. Earlier he was with Manipal Health Enterprises where he was responsible for operating the various hospital units & incubating new growth engines which include
Technology based Healthcare Delivery. He has been with the Manipal Group since April 2014. Prior to Manipal, he has spent over 15 years at Infosys and 7 years in Kotak. At
Infosys, Gopal has played various roles ranging from managing a business, developing corporate strategy as well as business development. His last role there was as Vice
President, Products & Platforms. Currently, he is the CEO of MeritTrac.