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Bridging The Employability Gap

More than 90 percent of the youth who are coming out of India's graduate schools are not industry ready in any manner - a complexity created by India's educational system and mindset. However, this gap between industry expectations and students' skills shall always remain unless the demand side (industry and corporates) addresses this issue and work alongside the supply side (students and educational institutions).

Indian educational system has always relied on rote and pedagogical method of teaching, where the teacher student hierarchy is tightly defined. This has resulted in a band of students who are excellent in linear thinking and technical skills but who fail completely when it comes to critical thinking, leadership skills and dealing with ambiguity – skills highly valued by the new age professional system. Unfortunately, even private educational institutions (majority who have started with an eye on a quick buck, rather than any real vision for educating students) have failed to inculcate these essential qualities in students.

Students from their part, add on to the challenge by falling back on the Indian mindset, which is oriented towards acquiring a formal university degree and not necessarily skills required for greater employability. Hence, a majority of the Indian youth are finding that (after having spent a large portion of their parent’s hard earned money) they are still not equipped with the requisite skills to succeed in the ultra competitive and resource starved Indian market place. In fact, data sources say that those educated but without professional skills constitute 69 percent of the total unemployed in India.

To bridge this “employability-skill gap” we need to device a solution is based on three philosophies: First, true skill development can happen only if the industry drives the initiative with students. Pure classroom trainings shall always fall short of industry expectations. Second, to be truly transformational, adult learning should be based on Andragogy – self exploratory, problem centered learning, with student's active involvement. Third, skill building is not a one off, but a continuous process. Hence, even after program completion, students are a part of an alumni network and career management center, which updates them with employment opportunities and skill enhancement tools and lessons.

The solution can be developed using Public Private Partnership model and develop “Industry student skill development platform” that enables networking of youth to corporates, through intensive future defining opportunities that prepare them for fast track careers. The platform further aims to develop a new generation of youth leaders, role models and achievers in the world. It aims at creating bigger and better opportunities for youth - where established leaders can interact, mentor and handhold youth in fields like entrepreneurship, business, leadership etc.

This solution can be implemented in three simple steps – fellowship programs, corporate immersion programs and lead-lab. The fellowship programs acclimatize students with professional way of working and expectation setting and explore ones’ self through various case studies and exercises. It creates measurable transformations in the areas of leadership, communication, confidence, public speaking and professionalism, putting students to better and faster career paths.

Corporate immersion programs help students to gain inspiration from top leaders and CEOs in expanding horizons. Programs such as ‘CEO Shadowing' provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for a team of selected students typically drawn from Tier 2/3 institutions to spend quality time with a CXO. Objective of the program is to expose students to wider perspectives and inspire them to pursue bigger dreams, thereby enabling them to become youth role models for the society. Many of the students who have undergone CEO Shadowing have faced their defining moments, and aspire and work towards bigger goals - whether it is in large MNCs, start ups or on their own.

Lead-labs provide a platform for students to Collaborate and learn team work and leadership through Self Actualizing Teams with an elected leader. Each team is given maximum independence, leaders are closely monitored and mentored, where the best leaders and teams are selected and awarded every fortnight. Teams are also encouraged to compete between each other for an overall award at the end of the session