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'85 percent graduates in India not employable'

Last updated on: August 29, 2011 08:37 IST

'85 percent graduates in India not employable'

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Divya Nair
At a recent HR professional meet in the city, hiring managers and employers from leading firms in the country addressed the issue of growing unemployment in the country and discussed plausible solutions to solve the issue.

According to a NASSCOM report, each year over 3 million graduates and post-graduates are added to the Indian workforce.

Of these, only 25 percent of technical graduates and 10-15 percent of regular graduates are considered employable by the industry.

What about the rest 75 percent of graduates? What makes them unemployable?

According to Kapil Deorukhkar, Regional Manager at IndiaSkills, a skills training company, "Nearly 85 percent of graduates are not employable, while 75 percent of engineering graduates are not employable."

Some of the reasons cited for the same are lack of focus and definite career path among graduates, undue emphasis on academic excellence, lack of industry-relevant curriculum and the like.

At a meeting of eminent Human Resource delegates held at WeSchool in association with the National HRD Network in Mumbai early this month, several professionals and industry experts from various sectors addressed the issue and discussed some workable solutions to consider.

We decode some of the solutions discussed at the meeting.

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Image: 85 percent of graduates are not employable
Photographs: Dominic Xavier
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Perspective on formal education needs to change

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Vivek Paranjpe, Group President, HR, Reliance Industries Limited credits the unemployment to the traditional perspective of parents.

"In India, most families still follow the traditional perception where formal education leading to graduation, is enforced upon students by parents and educational institutions, quite naturally. This needs to change at the earliest."

"Even today, most parents are of the opinion that a student with mechanical engineering degree will earn more respect in society than a student who has a diploma in mechanical engineering."

"It is a derived fact that engineering diploma students are more employable than those with engineering degree, for the sole reason that the former's curriculum is industry-oriented and less theory based. Most career decisions made in the country are due to lack of awareness and improper guidance," he points out.

He says that the change in perspective that should happen at every level will bring back the dignity of labour and students will not think twice before choosing a vocational course.

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Image: One reason for unemployment is the traditional perspective of parents
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh
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Emphasise on importance of vocational training

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Paranjpe also believes that one of the prime reasons for unemployment is the lack of vocational training among students.

"It is commonly observed that the unemployment rate among graduates is higher than among those who have a management degree or a vocational degree certificate. The reason for this is that every organisation realises the importance of vocational/employable skills and expect the same from candidates."

"Students should be taught to realise their aptitude and be trained to imbibe vocational skills as part of the curriculum."

"The syllabus for every educational course in the country needs to be revamped from time to time to include practical knowledge of technological skills and have industry-oriented curriculum so that kids who graduate out of school or college are almost ready to be absorbed into the employment process," he says.

Agrees Kapil. He says, "Today, there are so many short term certificate courses available for students. Most of these are not recognised by the University but are industry relevant. Students must find out where their skills lie and avail of a course that will make use of their aptitude and train them accordingly rather than going for a course which will only enable them a University approved degree."

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Image: Students should be taught to realise their aptitude
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh
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Balance academics and professional training

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HR professionals also point out the fact that most educational institutes lay too much emphasis on academic excellence and lose out on tapping the aptitude of the student and developing it.

"Most graduates have theoretical knowledge but lack the skills and aptitude that is desired of the profile. As employers, we are looking for graduates who possess the right attitude and can be inducted with a brief training," opines Avinash Dixit, Business Group HR Head, EM&RBG, Voltas Limited.

Kapil Deorukhkar further adds, "In India, the ratio of classroom learning to professional training is 70:30. In order to make students more employable, this ratio should be reversed to 30:70. Also, the course curriculum needs a serious makeover. We need to inculcate role based curriculum to students so that students have a fair idea of what is expected of them at work."

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Image: Employers looking for graduates who possess the right attitude and can be inducted with a brief training
Photographs: Dominic Xavier
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Younger generation is attracted to glamour

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Other factors

Meanwhile, other factors that complement the trend of unemployment among graduates are individual choices of employees, some of them being:

Attitude towards glamour

According to Vivek Paranjpe, the younger generation is attracted to glamour and the manufacturing sector, for one, lacks glamour.

He says, "Engineers who graduate as mechanical engineers do not want to work in manufacturing firms. Most of them are so used to the prim and proper life as students, that they are not motivated enough to work in industries where they are expected to get your hands dirty, especially dealing with machines and tools that involve physical testing from engineers. Also in contrast to software and consulting profiles that they are offered after doing a management course, manufacturing firms fail to attract attention, thereby leading to unemployment."

"As employers, we need to tie up with educational institutes and devise courses that are relevant to the industry, so that it becomes easy for companies to identify talent during hiring process. Also, we are looking at means to make professional life more enjoyable for employees"

He also suggested educational institutes to organise industry oriented activities that will enable students to connect with the professional world. At the same time, he said this exercise will help students gain professional knowledge that will be useful during employment process.

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Image: Younger generation is attracted to glamour
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh
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GenY needs to focus on career path

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According to Vijay Vasanth, General Manager of TeamLease, an emerging human resource provider, most graduates lack focus. He says, "They either don't know what they want from life or have too high expectations. But they fail to realise that they do not have the skills required for the profession they aspire and in the process end up taking the wrong career decisions."

Vijay also pointed out to the recent trends in higher education. "Although the trends are changing gradually, the penetration to higher education still remains marginally low in the country. Needless to say, the skills among graduates are comparatively poor. Poor skills lead to poor returns."

He further concludes by saying, "One needs to understand that when we talk of lack of employability, it doesn't imply that there is lack of jobs. In fact, there are plenty of jobs in the market, but there are very few who pass the eligibility test."

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Image: The GenY either don't know what they want from life or have too high expectations
Photographs: Dominic Xavier
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Take up a summer internship while you are still studying

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Tips for graduates

  • Choose a career that suits your interest and abilities so that you can develop your skills in that field.
  • Do not choose a course for the sake of certification alone. Check for viable and short term courses that are specific to your needs and meet the industry standards.
  • Along with studies, find out ways and means to brush up your vocational and cognitive skills particularly written and verbal communication. You can start by learning how to draft formal letters for various purposes.
  • Read the newspapers and browse the internet for updating your knowledge about the requirements of the profession you are interested in.
  • Whenever possible, participate in college activities and be a part of the organising committee for college events. These initiatives will teach you values of team work, leadership skills, communication skills and will go a long way in preparing you for the future.
  • Indulge in projects that go beyond classroom-education, where you can put your skills to test and learn from them.
  • Take up a summer internship while you are still studying so that you get hands-on experience of the workings of an industry. This will be taken into account by your hiring manager and will give you an edge over other candidates.

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Image: Take up a summer internship while you are still studying
Photographs: Dominic Xavier
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While devising a curriculum, look beyond classroom teaching

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For educational institutes

  • Institutes should emphasise on mandatory aptitude tests to ensure that candidates are fully aware and nurture an interest in the chosen field of study.
  • While devising a curriculum, look beyond classroom teaching and include field projects and assignments as part of the course.
  • Educational institutes must gauge the possibility of collaborating with various companies and devise short term certificate courses that are exclusive and specific to the industry standards.
  • While designing the curriculum, institutes need to take into consideration the changing trends in the industry and update their syllabus from time to time.

For the government

  • The government needs to focus on creating advocacy, providing infrastructure, provide learner funding support and ensuring grass-root availability of support systems.

For Human Resource professionals

  • HR professionals should discuss the requirements of a candidate with their company and find out ways how they can integrate possibilities of short term internships for students while still pursuing a course.

Image: Picture for representation purposes only
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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