“Management Trainee Openings”. The job post from a leading MNC read. Anita was shocked! Trainees? After 13 years in school, three years in college, two years in business school and a pot load of her father’s money, it should have said “Management Openings”!
Anita understood, the day she joined work. The painful realization dawned that ‘Trainee’ was indeed an apt title. After all those years of study, she was totally unprepared for the world at the workplace. The hard-coded deadlines, hard-nosed bosses – there was just no mercy!
And the humiliation! Late night presentations – which only got ripped apart the next day by her exasperated leader. ‘Counseling and ‘Constructive’ feedback – implying that she had the brains of an amoeba. Hey! Amoebas don’t have brains. Precisely! Hence, Trainee!
The words of Anita’s B-school professor rang true: “If you think your teachers are tough, wait till you get a boss!”
The organization too went through stress and cost with its newbies. Few hit the road running. Everyone had to be taught how to be corporate citizens. Three systems of education and still below par!
The education system is fragmented at every stage! Starting with the School system. A few ‘progressive’ schools purport to be all about nurturing creativity, curiosity and life skilling. Others too state exactly the same, but in reality, actually force-feed education: Cramming, rote-learning, tuition classes. There are private schools, Government schools, international schools – each with their own philosophy.
Whatever their teaching methodology, learning is force-driven towards that great leveler – The Class 12 Boards! A great bottleneck, operating to the lowest level of educational competence, with a wildly varying quality, delivery and evaluation process.
Thereafter, a prolific rash of coaching centers fill the gap that ‘prepares’ candidates for professional courses and other competitive entrance exams. They’re not interested in building the competencies – or the intelligence – required in an effective professional. They just help kids crack the code!
A flummoxed University system struggles every year to manage the huge rush that hits it. Why are Science students opting for Commerce courses, Commerce students opting for Arts courses? Shouldn’t they have made up their minds two years ago? Okay, so let’s just focus purely on marks – and build entry barriers! So admission cut-offs go as high as…100%?
But there’s hope! While the traditional university system is busy protecting its turf from the ‘corporatization of their syllabi’, a few private institutions are actually creating courses and directing their syllabi towards the needs of the Industry – the end user of this talent! Bringing in tenets of the workplace into the delivery of their syllabus.
This select lot has figured that the education system must cater to employability! A little late in the day, but it’s still a start and has its benefits.
But the education system needs to be ‘back-filled’. Here are four paradigm-busting elements that must be incorporated right from the start:
Teamwork: Presently only visible on the play-field, teamwork needs to become the ethos of every aspect of education. Even the examination system should be re-jigged from its present ‘Alexander the Great’ methodology into one that rewards teamwork. Alex is dead, by the way!
Emotional Intelligence: Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be learnt! The earlier it is introduced, the better the results. EI is the ability to demonstrate appropriate behaviors when handling workplace – and personal life – situations. Married to social and regulatory norms, high levels of EI have the ability to actually prevent failure and stress.
Languages: While we argue about our National language, the world has moved on. Incorporating several languages early enough would give a huge advantage to anyone aspiring to be a global citizen – which is almost everyone entering the workforce. Today’s world is all about communication – Google Translator needs to go!
Industry participation: The education system must look at Industry as its customer. Hence, Industry needs to have a say in the education process – right at the high school curriculum design stage. So that relevant and appropriate competencies are brought in to replace the rote and puke (of course, no one will admit that!) that is currently in place. Unfortunately, today, by the time Industry enters, it’s too late. A hard-boiled egg cannot make an omelet!
Does anyone have the guts to turn the traditional approach to education on its head? To take on the system and filter out the politicians, the bureaucrats, and yes, many of our educators too, who consider education their personal fiefdom. Few of them have any practical use of it, anyway!
Let’s be clear: This isn’t about the importance of Education – it’s about its relevance to employability!