More than 5 million students graduating every year but 50% are unemployable – what is not working?

Last week, I was talking to a young graduate, in early 20s, from a Greater Noida private university. Chatting over various topics, it was a quick realization that he was not able to communicate well in spoken English. The medium of instruction during his engineering graduation was English. This was shocking. I rang my brother, who graduated recently too, and asked for 20 random contacts of fresh graduates he knew are recently finished university in various streams. It was a personal revelation to me that nearly 60% of them were not possessing skills i would like them to have to base my decision to hire them for my organization. Hindu, a leading daily in India, published last year that more than 50% of Indian students graduating are unemployable.

I tried to analyse what is not working. Our education systems is too focused on academics and less or hardly any focus on application part of it. Parents force their ward to just acquire a degree certificate and they themselves lack skills to provide guidance to develop relevant skills which academia is incapable to provide for through traditional institutions.

Employability skills are general skills that are needed to get most jobs, but they also help you to stay in a job and work your way to the top. While there will always be some job-specific skills that an employer is looking for, most employers will also want you to have some general skills. This contains two areas one being the job-specific skills and the second general skills. First one, job specific skills, typically is easy one for employer to offer immediately on the job. Second one, general skills, is real challenge to acquire.

Now let’s have a look at general skills. What are they? The skills employers want

Communication – Both written as well as oral

Teamwork – Good social skills

Problem solving – Logical thinking

Basic Numeracy – Numerical ability

Leadership – Go get together attitude

Adaptability – For new ideas, situations, technology

Creativity –Out of the box thinking

IT- general proficiency in MS office and computer hardware/software

These skills are not taught as a special curriculum in our academic years. They need to be acquired. Here most of our graduate students fail. Now a days in colleges and by various soft skills or job-ready skills institutions these skills are taught. The graduate students are almost around 20 years of age. If they are not good enough in any of the above or all of the above general skills at this stage how they are going to fit in the job world?

Acquiring suck skills is an ongoing process and if one starts early, definitely he will have an edge over others. Parents needs to be more vigilant in finding right opportunities to groom their child based upon this self knowledge. Parents can start building upon it, no matter in what stream their wards have their degree, and become employable. The good news is that there are institutions coming up who are offering relevant help. In addition to that Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, has recently revamped the NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation) organization. Their role statement is quite impressive “Develop ultra low cost, high-quality, innovative business models”. This statement seems they want promote a sustainable model. I wish success to both private and government efforts to bring skill level up among Indian youth. This area will help India become economic superpower in the years to come considering 50% population in India is below 25 years of age, which is whopping 600 million people. I wish a great success to these efforts.

One thought on “More than 5 million students graduating every year but 50% are unemployable – what is not working?

  1. A nice article that highlights the alarming situation at hand. We may boast of the youngest population in world as a huge asset but this article underlines the real worth of asset we have.

    Revamping of NSDC is certainly a welcome move but I will add my observations to the current state of youth, their knowledge base & skills and employability.

    First let us understand that knowledge flows from top to bottom (read teachers to students). What is the status of knowledge base or for that matter skill level of teachers themselves. Unless teachers keep pace with growing requirements they cannot impart necessary skills to students. So, more than students, teaching faculties need skill development.

    Next is the infrastructure itself. Private sector owners of educational institutions treat the institution as business entity. Most of the Government institutions do not have the basic facilities of building, furniture or teaching staff forget about any other facilities that will help students to develop the skills beyond academics. This is true for private professional colleges also those are dotted all over.

    Well I do not have any data to support my observation but I have expressed based on my observations when I drive through rural areas. Remember “India lives in villages” still holds good though a good number of population has migrated to urban and semi-urban area.

    Yesterday I was in a meeting with a prospective customer semi-urban location. He was introduced to a fresh electrical graduate engineer for a job in his factory. Trust me he was not worth eve to be a electrician. He graduated from one of the mushrooming engineering colleges around and I wondered what he learned in over four years of stay at college

    I am not trying to paint a dismal picture, many good institutions are there, good schemes are in place and being implemented. These should continue to deliver good and keep pace with time. The need of the hour is to identify the root cause of current knowledge base of youth, accept the reality (read gap between actual skills, perceived skills and desired skills) and work for overall turn around; not merely for the statistics to make NSDC

    Thank you reading


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