It gives us great joy to announce our first conference on Inspired Leadership. This will bring together a microcosm of the planet's leaders in business, government, ‘Not for Profit', Education, performing arts etc. It will begin on 29th January 2010 and end on Martyr's day - the 30th of January - the day Gandhi sacrificed his life in service of the ideals of Inspired Leadership. We have a carefully designed process that will enable us to introspect deeply, convene in ways that builds synergy and move us to take responsibility.
Private Sector Higher Education is stuck in a Vicious Circle of Mediocrity
Do you see a demand-supply mismatch with respect to talent in the Indian context across industries?
There are some emerging sectors which have never existed before in India like biotech or clinical research; this whole area of life sciences where India wants to make a thrust. We do not have enough capacity in our educational institutions and furthermore the capacity we have is not of the desired quality. Neither there is a large industry for which you can hire as lateral positions.
In term of industries that are consolidated, whether IT, BPO, manufacturing or other services. Here, even the capacity of talent we are producing cannot sustain 9 to 10 % of growth in the economy for more than 3 years. At the end of three years of 9% growth, companies were finding their salary cost sky rocketing, with insufficient people and if we would have continued like that, the talent shortage itself would have become a constraint for growth. Now, since there has been a downturn for 2 years, there is sufficient talent available as recovery happens for next two years. The problem of talent shortage will continue if the growth of the economy continues for 5 years at a growing rate of at 9%.
What about the quality of talent?
This takes me to the education system in India. Let me focus on higher education and vocational education. The vocational education is a huge opportunity and huge gap area and the Government of India plans to spend thousands of crores over the next 20 years to do large scale skilling of about 100 million Indian people. If they execute the problem well, it will make a big difference.
As far as the higher education is concerned like post school you have the state subsidized universities and colleges who typically do not respond to market needs quick enough. They take a long time and then there syllabuses do not evolve quickly. They are not scalable because they are charging fees way below the cost. And whenever they try to scale, it requires a lot of government funding. On the private sector, higher education system has different problems. The problem is that to run an education institution or college you got to be a non profit organization. The government will give you cheap land. But the moment you say the land is below market prices then land is restricted, its supply is restricted. And therefore it goes to people, who have access to power structure like politicians, bureaucrats and a few other influential people. They are not necessarily in it because they are committed to education or they are great educationist. They are in it either to dispense patronage or to run a business where they can make profit. Also, because of the government gives cheap land, then it says that we would influence fees. If the government influences the fees it means they are fixing the revenues, if you fix the revenue, those institutions will work backwards to ensure their profitability; this results in low investment in teachers and lab facilities. So private sector higher education barring a few notable exceptions like ISB is stuck in what I would call a vicious circle of mediocrity. So, if you want more of your engineers to be employable you will have to go beyond the regulatory reform where the private higher education institutions need to be brought out of this vicious circle of mediocrity. Where the public higher education needs to modernized, upgraded and be left to our credit. And overall capacity of good quality needs to be expanded.