One of the common complaints that businesses have about business school graduates is the amount of effort required to train them on the job. It is important that business schools invest time and money to train their outgoing students so that the chasm between the knowledge that graduates possess and what the business world expects of them gets narrowed.
The business world is more dynamic than ever now. The influence of technology has been steadily rising with the dominance of artificial intelligence, automation, big data and business analytics in decision making. Skill up-gradation of postgraduate students in management is no longer an option – it has become an absolute necessity.
In the past, IT behemoths invested resources in training fresh graduates for a time period extending between 3 to 6 months prior to assigning them projects. Now employers are willing to pay a premium for talent with industry-ready skills so that they can avoid massive expenditure on training.
What is last mile training?
Last mile training establishes the crucial link between academic education and the demands of industry. It makes students aware of what the industry expects of them. Experienced professionals train students in the academic environs to develop competencies of students through intense learning sessions.
Why do we need last mile training?
The demand-supply gap in the job market seems to be widening. On one hand, technology is making existing jobs redundant. On the other hand, job security has become a mirage. The Government has initiated steps to motivate people to develop their skills – however awareness on this front is limited and most experienced professionals wanting to seek an alternative career do not know how to go about this.
It is a case of talent getting wasted. The industry has often lamented about the lack of employability of graduates and postgraduates. Thus, there are people who are willing to share their knowledge and there are people who need to be made aware that they need to upskill themselves. Now, how do we connect them? This is the big question. It is high time the elephant in the room is not ignored.
The phenomenon of aggregation
Whether it is travel, boarding/lodging or food delivery, aggregators have left a lasting impression on the Indian business ecosystem. Ola, Uber, Red Bus, Swiggy, Zomato, and Oyo rooms are classic examples of successful entrepreneurial efforts in India. These efforts were the result of acute business acumen in identifying the gaps in the existing service delivery models.
Last mile training is a progressive step that can lead to a win-win situation for both job seekers and organizations. This can also promote greater interaction between industry and academia. It is critical for the talent pool to leverage the opportunities presented by last mile training to improve their employability.
Statutory accreditations in India demand that students of business schools be exposed to the latest trends in the business world. The pedagogy is often found to be lacking and lagging in terms of meeting business expectations. Michael Porter’s five forces theory was postulated in the ’80s. While it is essential that students know about Porter’s model, it is imperative that they also know whether this model is practically relevant today. The sales process is now tool-based and digitally enabled with software like CRM and Salesforce. Students need to be made aware of newer strategies like hockey stick sales strategy and what “deadlines” actually mean in the industry.
Summer training and dissertation projects
The intention of summer training and projects in business schools is to make students job ready. Students are expected to interact with experts in organizations who can give them the real situation on the ground and coach them on tasks that will sharpen their skills. Faculty members can be an effective conduit in this process. However, the reality is starkly different.
Students often fall into the trap of treating such efforts as a burden and fail to understand their importance. It is clearly a case of mismatched expectations. Last mile training platforms can fill the gaps by establishing protocols that can enable a student to do outstanding work in these areas.
The chartered accountancy course is the most respected course in India. Students have to work hard to clear the examinations. There is no reason why the MBA course cannot be made more stringent so that quality output is delivered to the industry.
The trend for last mile training platforms is gradually but steadily on the upswing. However, contrary to the myth that these training programs can be expensive and time-consuming, newer models can be invented. These models can revolve around career coaching, connecting students with subject matter experts and industry veterans followed by value-added programs. Most business schools are doing a commendable job by motivating students to actively take part in extracurricular efforts that can improve their soft skills. Last mile training will add on to the efficacy of these efforts.
These models connect students to employers. Students have greater clarity about their focal area of interest and then close interaction with industry experts gives them an idea about what the expectations are from a particular role. The truth is that self-learning platforms have their own limitations. The intense learning environment engendered by industry interaction can be a game changer.
Online learning platforms will need to be complemented by offline platforms – more so in the field of higher education. Innovative business models can be invented and reinvented with strategic tie-ups between training aggregators and educational institutes. The next decade is going to witness a massive change. Entrepreneurial inclinations of business school graduates will receive a massive fillip and last mile training will only act as a catalyst in the process.