You are here: Rediff Home » India » Get Ahead » Careers » Jobs
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

Graduates, spruce up your skills
Richa Pant
Get news updates:What's this?
March 21, 2007

Part I: Jobs: 'It's boom time for graduates'
Part III: Hot jobs in retail for fresh graduates
Part IV: ITES/BPO sectors need fresh graduates
Part V: Opportunities for graduates in insurance sector
Part VI: Opportunities for graduates in the ad industry

Part VII: Hot jobs for graduates in the pharma industry

Seventy per cent of the graduates in India have a degree in science, arts or commerce. The opportunities for graduates from these streams have increased manifold over the past couple of years. Yet many graduates remain without jobs.

As graduates complain about a lack of jobs, companies across India see a lack of skilled applicants. The contradiction is explained by the lack of top quality undergraduate education. India's colleges swallow in thousands of new students every year, only to churn out many degree holders who are still not "job material".

According to a NASSCOM report, only 10 percent of graduates with non-specialised degrees are considered employable by leading companies. That is, what the job market wants and what colleges provide is totally different.

What the industry wants

Today, the bare essential job skills at the entry-level have evolved from simply pushing papers to answering phones, working effectively in teams, delivering presentations, and handling irate customers/clients tactfully and with finesse.

"The ability to communicate effectively in English, professional selling skills, body language, time management, computer-savviness, and the know-how to gather information and use search engines like Google are some of the marketable skills that are required," says Anuj Raheja, 28, an HR Manager in an FMCG company at Delhi.

However, these skills are rarely taught in the graduate curriculum.

"We don't get the chance to learn to communicate effectively, work in groups, or hold discussions," laments Anita Kaul, 21, a third-year commerce student in a private college in Delhi.

Many graduates are not taught in English, effectively barring them from the high-end job market. And, where English is taught, it is sometimes not necessarily the kind employers require.

Bridging the gap

Your objective as a student should be to try to proactively bridge the skills gap between what the industry needs and what you possess. Basic oral and written communication skills, basic computer skills (MS Office, Internet, etc), and a good workplace attitude (commitment and teamwork) are prerequisites to landing the best available jobs.

Try to understand which sector you are suited for, and then accordingly work on your skills.

"For example, the general perception about call centres is that you just have to talk. However, this job also requires interpersonal skills, language proficiency, good vocabulary, telephone etiquette and sales skills," says Manish Arora, 28, an independent recruitment consultant based in Pune.

"A quick fix: do a six-month bridge course or attend a 'finishing school'. This will really help those students who are good raw material but don't necessarily have the skills. It's not that they lack capability, it just that their education doesn't quite meet industry needs. So, they need some additional work to get them the right job," says Anuj.

There are various short-term or "crash" courses (in communication skills, computers/Internet, etc), which help make students more 'employable'.

"A graduate can opt for a part-time, full-time or correspondence course," he adds.

Improve your English

"Spruce up your English by improving your grammar. Although grammar is difficult to improve, it is still possible. Begin by using a grammar book. Start reading newspapers regularly and watch television channels such as CNN and BBC. Also, practise writing, even if it is informally," advises Manish.

Various short-term English courses, such as those available at Inlingua (New Delhi), can help too. Check with a local career coaching centre to locate available courses in your city.

Develop 'Soft Skills'

Globalisation has increased the pressure on companies, with an increasing need felt to effectively manage oneself and one's clients. Interpersonal behaviour, communication, presentation, client handling and client management, business development and negotiation skills, which were hitherto considered not very important, have now become essential for companies.
"Employability is automatically increased if you have good professional grooming. It is about how you express yourself, interact with and react to others, form relationships, work in teams, and impress clients. In a nutshell, it is about developing your overall personality," says Manish.

"Today, soft skills are the most important characteristic for any individual to communicate well and pave the way to success. It separates the wheat from the chaff. Increasingly, people are ranked by their ability to deal with others effectively. It is soft skills that differentiate winners from also-rans," agrees Anuj.

Get computer-savvy

Computers today are being used for a wide variety of applications across industries. Many organisations are outsourcing peripheral business processes like human resource, payroll management, finance, customer care, billing and accounts packages. Thus, ITES/BPO is a nascent industry with unparalleled opportunities.

Aptech is one of the institutes that has programmes to train graduates for these new age careers. It has an industry-researched programme called Aptech Certified Professional Course for Graduates, which make graduates fit for IT enabled jobs.

The skills taught under ACPG include basic computing skills, personality skills, industry overview and functional specialisation. These skills prepare graduates for specialised jobs in sales and marketing, banking, accounting and call centres.

ACPG provides specialisation tracks powered by strategic alliances with market leaders. Banking specialisation students, for instance, train on i-Flex Solutions Ltd's flagship product Flexcube, which has been ranked among the top two largest selling wholesale back office banking systems in the International Banking Systems, UK. The sales and marketing specialisation has been developed using NETg, USA contents.

Improve one's oral/written communication

A number of graduates are good at academics, but not efficient at communication skills. This aspect puts them behind in their career opportunities.

Various institutes offer courses specifically designed to improve one's communication. For example, the Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education provides a Foundation Course in Communication Skills (FCCS) to improve the communication skills of young graduates and help them increase their value in the job market.

Learn a foreign language

Globalisation has brought employees of different countries face-to-face. Opening up of economies has resulted in MNCs coming to our country and setting up business here. And it is precisely because of this that learning foreign languages is not merely an advantage for all those who want to work abroad but also for those who want to grow in life. "For all those executives and students who travel to non-English speaking countries for either work or further studies, the knowledge of a relevant foreign language is a must. It can also prove beneficial to those businessmen who intend to expand their business," says Manish.

Some of the more common foreign languages that are in demand are Japanese, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Persian, Arabic and French.

Institutes for language Studies

Do short-term diplomas to gain a competitive edge

There are many institutes that offer short-term courses in various segments. You can check with a local career coaching center to locate available courses in your city. A few of them are as follows:

Remember, iIf you start off your career as a graduate, once you start climbing the corporate ladder, it's a good idea to keep adding to your skills as you go along, to avoid stagnancy. Finally, the key to succeed is to also have the right attitude to take up any challenge in your chosen field.

The next part of this series will deal with hot industries and job profiles within these.

Part I: Jobs: 'It's boom time for graduates'
Part III: Hot jobs in retail for fresh graduates
Part IV: ITES/BPO sectors need fresh graduates
Part V: Opportunities for graduates in insurance sector
Part VI: Opportunities for graduates in the ad industry
Part VII: Hot jobs for graduates in the pharma industry

 Email this Article      Print this Article
© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback