Harappa recently conducted a survey titled ‘Bridge the Gap’ to understand the distinct need gaps and challenges faced across the education-work continuum. This survey saw participation from over 200 talent leaders and academics and put the spotlight on challenges across the spectrum and how industry and academia can come together to meaningfully solve the employability challenge that Indian youth continue to face. The top industries that respondents represented were IT, Edtech, Consulting, Manufacturing, e-commerce, Government & Public Administration, and Telecom.
The survey revealed that close to 80% of the talent leaders & academics feel the pandemic has changed the skill requirements needed to successfully maneuver post-pandemic workplaces and has made placements more challenging for young talent. The survey also found that the top three skills that employers look for in young talent are: the ability to proactively problem-solve, self-motivation, and affinity for teamwork. Other skills highlighted were excellent communication skills, resilience, reasoning logically, time management, and learning on the job.
95.6% of talent leaders were found to believe that a college education does not adequately prepare young talent for the workforce today and 96% of academics acknowledge that there’s a greater need for academia-corporate collaboration in the wake of the pandemic to solve the persistent employability challenges.
Shreyasi Singh, Founder & CEO, Harappa says, “For far too long, academia and industry have been like the parallel banks of a mighty river of talent: never to converge on a shared destination. As India continues to reel under the brunt of the pandemic, it has also been facing an unenviable employability crisis for many years now."
In terms of need gaps, talent leaders identify creative problem solving as one of the biggest need gaps, followed by critical thinking, effective collaboration, decision making, logical reasoning and others; whereas academic respondents feel critical thinking followed by creative problem solving, effective collaboration, building networks, professional writing, and speaking skills and decision making, among others, were the biggest need-gap. Interestingly, the ability to problem-solve is also one of the top skills employers look for in young talent: a skill that evidently remains missing from our curriculum.
When asked to offer solutions to bridge the employability gaps in today’s young talent, 29.3% talent leaders recommend co-creating curriculum with enterprise representation, 28.6% recommend including Thrive Skills (cognitive, social, and behavioral skills) in the curriculum and the other 25.6% recommend including corporate representatives as part of faculty. On the other hand, 73% of academics feel that building an industry-campus partnership to co-create curriculum is key to address employability need gaps in our youth. 67% of academics feel the need for corporates rolling out higher internship opportunities for campuses and 49% think there is a need for regular workshops and seminars on skill development from potential employers.
When asked about the biggest challenges young aspirants face in the interview process, 59% of the academics identified speaking and articulating effectively as the biggest challenge, 43% of academics felt students struggled with quick problem-solving skills, and 43% believed positioning their personal brand as the biggest challenge.
54% of the academic respondents feel that there is a need to put more effort into making young aspirants ready for the 21st century workforce. When asked about the growth potential of young talent, 67% of talent leaders shared that less than 30% of their young talent is poised for optimal growth; 19% felt 30-50% of their young talent show optimal growth potential, and only 14% shared the sentiment for more than 50% of their young talent.
"At Harappa, we believe that it’s now or never that academia and industry push and provoke each other, and motivate and support one another, to solve India’s most crucial talent challenges. With the Bridge-The-Gap Survey, we wanted to address some of the most crucial questions that plague academia and industry today. Findings revealed that 99.2% of talent leaders acknowledge the importance of Thrive Skills at the workplace. We are heartened by this and strengthen our commitment to empowering professionals with these key cognitive, social, and behavioral skills for continued success at every career stage,” shares Shreyasi.
The future for young talent is one that demands deliberate effort on the part of both talent leaders and educational institutions. As this survey reveals, reinforcing stronger industry-academia collaboration requirements is key to make our youth more employable and to instill in them the skills to attract talent leaders, ace placements and grab opportunities for their career growth.