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The new ‘cool’ in employability

At a time when graduate jobs are hard to come by, soft skills training in schools and colleges could help

While the percentage of students in high school and universities rising, the national employment rate in India has, surprisingly, fallen to 4% in June 2018. The reason for this is that while Indian students possess bookish knowledge and are trained to work in industries, they still lack the necessary soft skills. They manage to do quite well in the technical rounds, but lose out in the creative rounds due to lack of creativity.

“We should understand that universities prepare students to be industry-ready. If we do not align the programme with current industry requirements, then, we are not providing them with the required skillset. Hence, it is important to keep students updated through employability enhancement programmes wherever possible,” says Ritu Gupta, associate professor, human resource management, TAPMI.

The right candidate

A major problem that recruiters face while employing students is that candidates are ready for industry work but are not ‘employable’. Being employable is about having the right attitude, professional ethics and communication skills. Employers are on the lookout for employable professionals, as technical aspects can be taught and grasped easier than soft skills.

Talking about making candidates employable, Bhaskaran Srinivasan, director academics of Manipal Global Education Services, says, “The concept of employability quotient, in its current form, needs an overhaul, if it is to be useful. Industries complain that they have to impart additional training to fresh graduates before they become “employable”, especially if the graduates are from tier 3 or tier 4 colleges. The challenge is, therefore, in reducing the time, effort, and money spent by companies on training the fresh graduates as part of their induction programme. Of course, this will never be zero irrespective of how good the educational institutes are. No two companies follow the same process or operate in the same context. They will always have to impart additional training in some form or other. The message is that most graduates are employable – but at a cost.”

The national employment rate has been the lowest over the past decade. According to Gupta, “If you do not prepare your students well to face the job market, then you will face the campus recruitment downfall.”

Solution

What is the solution to the continuous downfall in employment? Teaching soft skills in schools and colleges. We all remember how we had compulsory lessons in algebra and Shakespeare. While those are important, it would not be a bad idea to make teaching and learning of soft skills a compulsion in schools and colleges.

“When such courses are provided, neither the college nor students take them seriously. The way to create a robust curriculum encompassing soft skills is to conduct a pre-assessment of students at the beginning of their course and recommend the soft skill courses that they ought to complete before they become eligible for certification. Some colleges treat these as bridge courses. It is merely the lack of will and regulatory backing that prevents this from happening,” says Srinivasan.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 10:14:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/the-new-cool-in-employability/article25910163.ece

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