Right education for the right job
November 17, 2010 4:44:19 PM
Globalisation has created a momentum which is re-allocating work around the world. China won the manufacturing round and India is winning the services round. In India, the Metro cities (Delhi/Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata) won the first wave of new jobs. IT/ITES sectors created nearly two crore new direct jobs! Financial Services and Retail are following the trend. In wave two, new jobs will go to Tier 2 towns: Jaipur, Chandigarh, Nasik, Vizag, Siliguri, with all benefit. Economic prosperity will be redistributed. The “small towns” are set-up for a bonanza. But are they ready?
Our education system may let us down. We are graduating students, not a workforce. India has over 2.6 crore unemployed graduates. Can we put them to work? Yes, but it requires hard work. Young people must realise the curse of three As: Angrezi, aptitude and attitude. The lack of them is a recipe for disaster. The youth should not wait to graduate and find that they are unemployable. They must take pro-active steps.
India has had a knowledge-based education system for centuries but now they must quickly embrace skills and employability-oriented education to reap the benefits of ensuing job influx. Thankfully, the Government of India is also waking up to the call of the hour and has embarked on the herculean task of overhauling the ageing education system. It has mooted out seven new bills and legislations which are at different stages of proposal and execution. The Government has never shown a greater sense of urgency to address the endemic problems of education. The critics say the Government is probably doing too much in haste and not building enough consensus on the reforms.
Industrialization, globalisation and now digitization has changed the way the world works and how growing economic and non-economic activities define jobs and careers. A skills-based education system can catalyse gross enrollment ratios beyond the 12.4 per cent at present and qualitatively, allow more employable output. Access and capacity must be augmented through private and public investments as India needs over 100 universities and 10,000 colleges in the next five years.
India scores well in jobs and salaries when you look at institutions like IITs and IIMs. We graduate five million students annually and five of them also get $100,000 salaries. But that’s 0.0001 per cent of our graduates. When we get to Tier 2, 3 and 4 institutions, the scene is alarming. Despite the fancy advertisements, most colleges and universities in this category have less than 10 per cent placements for jobs in the range of ` 8,000-17,000 per month. At the bottom end, MBAs can earn barely 25-50 per cent more than uneducated daily wage earners! Is that what education should deliver? Clearly, these students could get these jobs with vocational or professional education which would cost much less and take less time. In contrast, the war for talent is pushing salaries in corporate sector up at an alarming pace —12 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate over the last decade. High cost will render the service industry uncompetitive over time (we lost manufacturing race to China and are losing contact centres to Philippines). If only we could create more employable MBAs and engineers who can take the higher-paying jobs and stem the high attrition, high salary endemic in corporate world, we will have a more equitable and progressive nation.
Our education system must embrace skills or employability focus as theory based education does not help create an employable workforce. Like many private universities and autonomous colleges are quickly adopting, employability education must be made mandatory in higher education. Employability education refers to non-technical knowledge, skills and attitude requirements which are essential for winning and retaining jobs (eg aptitude and problem solving, English language and communication skills, personality/presence and soft skills). Employability skills are imperative in India as we expect 500 million new job seekers between 2007 and 2022. We must put these people to work to create national wealth, build an equitable society and seize the opportunity of an once-in-a-lifetime demographic dividend. The youngest nation on the planet continues to be plagued with a severe job-talent mismatch and needs employability education maintain its growth trajectory.
The good news is that skill gaps can be bridged with training, delivered over a period of time in schools. Education institutions need to emphasis and plan for this. Companies are showing the way on how industry-endorsed content, industry-experienced trainers, technology and social purpose can come together to create meaningful impact.
--The author is founder and CEO Aspire Human Capital Management