Higher Education in India Needs an Update
In a rather startling discovery, the results of a recent survey conducted by Wheebox, a talent assessment organization for the India Skill Report 2018, show that almost 85% of those who had completed higher education were not equipped with enough information to take a career decision, according to a recent ET report. Let us take a closer look at the survey, and attempt to comprehend the complexities of the higher education system in the country.
The employability survey, which saw responses from over 5,000 education campuses, was undertaken in association with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Association of Indian Universities (AIU), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Pearson Education and HR Tech Company People. Following are some of the findings of the same:
- According to the respondents, 50% of them seek information to make career decisions for employment from colleges, followed by 21% from online resources, and 17% sought help from immediate and extended family members.
- 85% of the candidates also admitted that internships with different roles and in different industries will help their career take a better direction.
- Many also felt that Employer Connect or Job Fairs at colleges are the best approach to land their first job.
- 37% were of the view that excellent communications skills would give them an edge in starting a great career, whereas 30% believe it is industry exposure. 19% of the respondents believe that co-curricular activities will help them kick-start a great career post-college.
The report goes onto note the lack of professional counseling and career-building services provided by a majority of Indian higher education institutions, as a possible reason for this gap. It highlights the importance of a dynamic career development process, and why Indian educational institutes must invest in the same, citing the approaches adopted by their global counterparts.
An Unmistakable Gap to Bridge
The findings quantify what has already been accepted in the country: the fact that a majority of higher education institutes are doing a subpar job at skilling individuals and enabling them to grow into confident leaders. India’s growing population has spurted the demand for higher education degrees, in response to which, institutes offering technical and management studies mushroomed unchecked sporadically all over the country. A hard look at the fate of B. Tech colleges in the country confirms the worst fears: students are sure studying for years to receive a degree, but there is an utter disconnect between the skills they were being taught and what will actually make them employable. IT leaders and studies have stated that only a small percentage of the engineers who actually graduate from college have any employable skills.
This complex situation, however, has now become an opportunity for those who have realized the deep-rooted problems in the education sector.
The Rise of Online Learning and Skilling Drives
The fact that many individuals felt underequipped at a job, despite attending formal education programs, was an important factor that led to the rise of online learning platforms. In addition to making knowledge and learning accessible, open and cost-effective, leading global learning organizations are tying up with top institutional education to offer quality education virtually. This can also be used to partially explain the growth of online learning academies and communities in India, especially in the IT, digital marketing, and data sciences sector. Young graduates often feel underprepared to perform proficiently at their job, for they have not been exposed to latest trends, tool, and technologies that have evolved in the last few years. As a result, they learn new skills in order to excel, or simply survive, at their workplaces. Most online learning platforms provide learners with certifications at the end of the course, and their acceptability in job markets is unmistakably increasing.
On the other hand, some organizations have taken the matter into their own hands. While most IT companies ‘train’ fresh graduates for a brief period before taking them in, many are increasingly thinking of re-skilling drives as well. Indian organizations like TCS, Infosys, HCL, and Wipro have been proactively upskilling their employees over the last few years, anticipating a major shift in the working environment in the coming years, but those who miss the bus are likely to face difficult consequences tomorrow. In industry-led initiatives, tech giants often come together to utilize their resources optimally and train a workforce in domains which are crucial for tomorrow. The latest case in point being the SkillSET portal launched at World Economic Forum last week, with the aim to re-skill 1 million people by 2021. Accenture, Cognizant, Infosys, TCS, PwC, SAP, and TCS are a few of the big names associated with the initiative, that has been especially envisioned to meet the global skill set challenge and address job displacement arising from automation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Although a global initiative, Indians are likely to benefit a lot from the same. Many organizations in India have also set up their own training centers, partnered with education institutes to provide industry-specific training or actually entered the education space themselves, in hopes of attracting talent when they are young.
The fact that graduates from Indian institutions need to be reskilled or retrained, to simply be employed, is a testament to the obvious rot in the system. With humanity and the corporate world on the cusp of a radical change in the way we live and work, there is still time to make the transition smooth and flexible with minimal negative impact. However, that will need a serious and dedicated joint effort from the private education sector, the government and the industry, which is nowhere in sight in the near future. If the current situation is such that a majority of those who finish higher education are unable to take a career decision on their own, the Indian higher education domain has a long way to go. How long private players will be able to sustain the shortcomings of the official education system remains to be seen.