By simply being educated and acquiring a degree, you cannot earn money; you need to be skeducated.
Skeducation is skill based education.
Unfortunately they don't teach you this in the colleges. You got to do it yourself, advises management guru Virender Kapoor.
The clamour around jobs and unemployment has been there for several years.
Despite the advent of technology and accessibility of education and resources, not much has improved.
If you look at India, approximately 65 lakh graduates pass out every year which includes approximately 15 lakh engineers.
The output is year on year and experts keep saying 'We need skills'.
What exactly are these skills? How can we build them?
In the last two decades serving as the director of a management institute under the Symbiosis International University I must have interviewed close to 8,000 graduates for MBA programmes.
Since management is an interdisciplinary area I've had the opportunity to look at graduates with engineering, BBA, BSc, BCA, BA, BCom, CA, BPharma and even Hotel Management degrees.
I also had the opportunity of interacting with around 2,000 parents to understand their expectations.
While I groomed and trained thousands of students for their MBA program, I learnt a lot about the youth of our nation, their strengths and shortcomings, their expectations from life, their high energy levels and how some of them blossomed and contributed to the institute and the industry they were associated with.
Some of them are flourishing as leading professionals and CEOs heading organisations.
While their success is gratifying, an important lesson I learned was that even those who are not academically great can do well in life; in fact very well in life.
Why do graduates struggle for jobs in India?
1. Lack of domain knowledge
The rigour of non-engineering courses is not adequate. In fact most of them are pretty easy going.
Therefore students who are young and bubbling with energy have a lot of free time on their hands.
The result is that a graduate is likely to have very limited basic domain knowledge for which he had primarily enrolled himself.
On top of it s/he has no other 'skills' that are required for getting employed.
The college or educational institution therefore neither gives them skills which are essential for employment nor any domain knowledge required in a real work environment.
2. Lack of mentor
When there is no mentor to guide these students they end up making wrong decisions, often doing nothing on their own and completely waste their 3 to 4 years of ‘prime time'.
These are lakhs of youngsters aged between 21 and 23 bubbling with energy, who are unable to find a direction.
Majority of parents have no clue as to how to guide them. This not only happens in small or tier 2/3 towns but also in metros!
3. Transformation and missed opportunities
I have seen thousands of students who transformed themselves from being mediocre to becoming extraordinary performers.
I have also seen students losing a lifetime golden opportunity and some who missed the boat to glory and success.
Why some succeed and why do several others fail?
In life some become 'haves' and most remain 'have nots'.
Most graduates who are unemployable are also directionless with a lack of job-relevant skills and domain knowledge.
In fact they did very little to skill themselves during school and college days too. Their friends too are sailing in the same boat and cannot be of much use.
It is not the fault of the students. This is a systemic problem. But if the system is not good enough, a student has to find a way to move forward in life.
Make a good living, work confidently and move up the ladder -- whichever ladder he wants to climb.
4. The gaping skill gap
When a fresh college graduate looks for a job what does the employer look at? What are his expectations from this 22 year old?
Let us understand that a fresh graduate out of a college with no experience is not being interviewed for the position of a CEO or a vice president operations!
Even an MBA from a top B school is not hired for such positions.
A fresher is going to be deployed at probably the bottom of the ladder (This should be taken in the right spirit as this is a fact!).
Any person who is interviewing a fresh graduate is analysing you based on these parameters:
- Is this person prepared to learn? Has s/he made any extra efforts to do something more than what s/he was told to do?
- Will s/he volunteer to walk that extra mile?
- Does s/he have a little more knowledge than his text books?
- Does s/he know what is happening around? Is s/he well informed and well read?
- Does s/he have an attitude to learn and a positive outlook towards life?’
5. The right attitude and personality
The methods of interview could be different but besides domain knowledge which is more important for IT/Tech jobs, the idea is to look at your overall development.
- Are you able to comprehend things, grasp questions?
- Are you open to new ideas?
Although HR professionals may not be able to judge your Emotional Quotient (EQ), the entire effort inadvertently evaluates you on that.
As they say... 'Companies hire on talent but fire on attitude'.
A significant number of hiring managers attach a lot of weight to attitude and personality right in the beginning.
'If you have an employee with a great attitude but no training or skills versus one with a poor attitude with some education or training. Take the employee with the great attitude for they can be trained,' said Kailin Gow (a best-selling author).
How to help yourself: Tips for graduates
1. Be differently-skilled
The silver lining on the dark cloud is there is always hope.
For instance, when there is a job vacancy, let's say 50 people apply and sometimes a panel cannot get even one guy who can be hired.
But if you are first amongst these 50 equals; by simply being a little different, you may get the job.
2. Take the first step and do it yourself
While colleges have limitations, so do parents.
Most friends too do not have much to offer unless they are really very good, matured and wise.
It is a situation in a restaurant where there is no waiter to take an order and serve you a meal. It is a buffet, where you have a huge spread on a long table -- right from soups, to main course and dessert.
It's up to you to pick up a plate and decide what you want to eat.
3. Sharpen your axe
Today you are lucky that there is a lot available to learn on your own.
Pick up what is the best for you. Read a book, sign up to learn a new skill or volunteer for a cause. There is so much more to life than being disappointed about your failures.
So go sharpen your axe.
You need not be an Albert Einstein to move forward and make a kill.
Low hanging fruits may seem easy for you; but you will still need to jump and pluck them in order to relish them. They will not fall in your lap without effort.
New entrants to the workforce must take the responsibility of being employable on themselves.
Companies are looking for young, passionate and hardworking graduates to fulfill junior positions. Only the most employable graduates will be offered these career-starting opportunities.
Young men and women, who on the other hand want to become entrepreneurs, also must start somewhere to sharpen their axe.
With lakhs of fresh graduates being added to the pool every year, this space is getting cluttered and only the smart, well informed and hardworking will survive.
You need to smarten up, become ready to face the competitive world.
By simply being educated and acquiring a degree, you cannot earn money; you need to be skeducated. Skeducation is skill based education.
Unfortunately they don't teach you this in the colleges. You got to do it yourself.
So are you ready to take the plunge?
Are you any less? Would you not like a share of the pie?
Would you not like to earn good money and make or create the best of what is available?
Remember, 'Nothing depends on luck; everything depends on work because even luck has to work.'
In the weeks to follow, I will lay out a simple yet workable road map for you on how to improve your chances of getting hired.
Remember, at the end of the day it is you who has to work. The learning will be organic and if you put in your best, your plants will grow with fruits galore.
Virender Kapoor is the former director of Pune's Symbiosis Institute of Management and the founder of Management Institute for Leadership and Excellence in Pune. He has authored more than 36 books on self-improvement designed for school students, senior managers and CEOs.