The lack of collaboration between institutions is not limited just to India. But for international linkages, institutes look for win-win from different angles
What are ACCA’s plans in India for the next one year?
Aziz: There are two or three elements to it. One is to make sure that we do a lot of work with the corporates and make them understand the value of members (students and professionals) who have studied in ACCA and the value that our certifications provide. The second element is providing them with the supply of good quality members (students). That in turn means working with top universities in India to make sure that you are able to deliver good quality, employable students.
Which institutes do you collaborate with?
Aziz: We work with institutions like Christ University in Bangalore, Symbiosis in Pune, Stella Maris in Chennai and a number of other institutes as well. The collaboration not only helps in delivering good quality students to the corporate world but also in terms of our branding. It is very important to choose in terms of the type of the institutes you want to be associated with. Hence, we are working in this project with CII and the AICTE. We collaborate mostly with academic institutes than vocational as we ourselves provide vocational qualifications.
Do you think the government’s move to introduce foreign universities in India will help in increasing the quality of education?
Aziz: I believe there’s no shortage of talent in India but education needs to be constantly revamped and the foreign universities coming in with their ideas, methodologies and approaches will only help achieve the same.
Lucia: Many global education providers in other parts of Asia like Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong where they have very good national institutions. What it does is bring dialogues among institutions and creates linkages. It is going to increase the dialogue among the institutions from different parts of the world that may have different strengths and that will create strengths both sides. Hopefully, international institutions will become a part of India’s education fabric where they tap the Indian talent and take them to other parts of the world while bringing in an international perspective and making it very enriching for both.
You say that there is no talent shortage in India, but Indian companies often complain of not having enough talent with the right skill sets. How do you counter that?
Aziz: When employers complain of the talent shortage, it just means that the education being provided needs to be able to bridge that gap. Talent needs to be nurtured and education needs to be revised and fine-tuned to link to the requirement. That is exactly what we are doing. Universities are very keen to work with us as they too feel the need to address the gap between the requirements of the industry and the talent level.
Lucia: An important role the universities have to play is to develop professional dimension of education along with academic, so that when at workplace, one is more work ready and efficient to answer the questions that are asked during recruitments.
Knowing that national institutes rarely collaborate with each other in India, we’re now talking about international collaborations, how would you address that?
Lucia: Institutions have a vision of their own and may be feel that collaboration may deviate from it. Creating a consensus might be difficult but you may find institutions with similar challenges. It is about finding the points of common interests and it takes the vision of one institution to take it forward.
Aziz: The lack of collaboration is not limited just to India. It’s true that there’s a much more competitive environment from a national perspective, whereas for international linkages, they look for win-win from different angles and obviously that’s an easier collaboration. It’s not specifically an Indian issue, it happens in other countries as well. But, what’s missing in the Indian institutes is the ability and willingness to lobby together.
In that case, wouldn’t it help to have more such collaborations as India is going to have a young workforce with a lot of people retiring in another 10 years and the millennial generation working?
Aziz: Soon, institutions will realize that things won’t move the right way on an individual basis and the only way out would be collectively. They will find that there is a win-win even if it means working with a competitor. The government has to play a role, but the industry also has to come together to seek changes in education. Institutes will have to work towards their impact on the economy, not just their individual commercial benefits as India’s position in the world economy is not only crucial to India, but to the world.
What unique challenges you faced in India as compared to other countries?
Aziz: Indian institutes are still conservative in terms of how they approach teaching, learning and delivering. On the contrary, we refresh our syllabus every two years, take on board industry catalogues and surveys for a regular evolution of our qualifications. Even the way we assess is more online and dynamic in nature. Over the years, it can’t just be constant changes but revolutionary.
Do you think that the industry is doing enough to address the skill gaps issue?
Aziz: The industry needs to get into a dialogue with the institutes to influence them on how they teach students and provide them with skills. Immediately, what the industry needs to do is invest in the people they already have and provide them with additional professional skills. When the economy is tightening, the first thing companies cut down is either people or learning and development, but that’s a very short-term thinking. It might be easy to do but they realize later that if they had invested in the learning initiatives, it would have been beneficial. Funding and impetus on learning and development still lacks. Only a few companies like KPMG, Genpact and HSBC are investing more in people. It not only helps individual employees’ career development, but also has an impact on employee retention providing them overall value and benefits.
Gen Y is known to be very restless. When they become the leaders, what kind of challenges do you think they will face, with the next generation that will be coming in at that time?
Aziz: They may be Gen Y now, but when they move into leadership, the skills and trainings they get now would ensure that they’ll not have the same attitude. There are some positives with their agility but they need to work on themselves as well to move away from their Gen Y thinking before they become leaders. They also need to look at Gen Z and Gen X and how they will deal with them and infuse the generations to incentivize. There are two elements to it: How you need to develop to become a leader and the second is thinking about the next generation.