Addressing Learning Gaps And Building Student Employability
"Considering India is going through an unemployment challenge and shortage of skilled labour simultaneously, one has to fix these issues"
India accounts for a staggering 16% of unemployed graduates and 14% of unemployed postgraduates. A McKinsey report says 80% of our graduates may not be employable. The great concern is that this is almost double the national unemployment rate. Most experts agree that the challenge in India is job fitment as much as job availability. The industry has seen increased demand for gig workers, remote workers, and independent contributors. India has an excellent opportunity to overcome its unemployment challenge and also leverage global opportunity and market for skilled workers.
Students often complain that the learnings they had in academics hardly get used in the industry. Both graduates and postgraduates often question the relevance of their education for the job. To further rub the salt on this wound, students often go through reorientation and six months of training when placed. Additionally, most of the students will not find jobs that will match their education. Students often end up with jobs requiring lesser expertise, lower educational qualification, or typically executed by students of different streams.
Meanwhile, industries continue to suffer from the lack of skilled workers with the right attitude to work. Most recruiters see a drop in offers to join ratio. With all these confusions, jobs and students seem to be in separate plains. Considering India is going through an unemployment challenge and shortage of skilled labour simultaneously, one has to fix these issues.
Institutes can employ some of the strategies illustrated below:
Improved exposure to students to facts around the subject
Expose students to the trends in the industry. Students must understand how the industry applies the concepts. Understanding practical applications motivate students to learn the subjects with a lot more interest. Institutes can achieve this by inviting specific industry experts to speak to students. Post-session follow-up, quizzes and carrier orientation with mentors can help students improve their liking for the subjects and facilitate better learning.
Centres of excellence and notable credits
Having specialised job-oriented modules integrated with the syllabus would be an exciting way to motivate students. Industry experts teaching these subjects would be ideal. These modules should carry both academic credits and industrial certification. A couple of topics in the final year of education will make a good bridge for students looking to build their careers. Further, continuous improvement, modification, or churning of these courses will ensure higher relevancy.
Increasing internship duration and innovation partnerships
Increasing the duration of internships is one of the most crucial aspects of solving industry-academic problems. But currently, restrictions like two months, specific guidelines by the college, lack of focus by the industries are throwing up considerable challenges in helping students get value out of an internship.
Universities should set up teams and centres to insource the problems of the industries. There is a massive opportunity to leverage cross-functional expertise in institutions to build cross-functional teams to solve specific industrial projects.
Helping students become entrepreneurs
The world is moving towards a gig economy and there would be a considerable need for freelancers and entrepreneurs. There is a tremendous need for our institutes to motivate our students to be job creators than job seekers. When top minds in the country start focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship, we will build globally competitive enterprises from India. Today, most colleges are focused on making their students ready for campus placements without focusing much on entrepreneurship.
Colleges can do so by employing these mechanisms
Creating cells/centres of excellence
Institutes can set up centres of entrepreneurship that offer special courses to motivate students to become innovators/ entrepreneurs. Colleges should also look at setting up different labs, industry lectures, hackathons and similar things as part of their plan
Colleges can set up incubators to help students become entrepreneurship to get mentoring and infrastructure support. The existence of an incubator can also help students to seek internship & learn from other entrepreneurs
While Incubators provide infrastructure, many times, students require financial assistance. Colleges can explore the possibility of setting up funds as part of their expense or leveraging their donor database. Such funds invested can be recovered as repayments or equity by the students.
Venture studios like PESU Venture labs will extend the benefits of centres of excellence while enhancing the value of incubators and venture funds. Venture Studios will ensure that students and faculty are supported entirely and the fund is deployed optimally in the initial stage of the venture. Venture studios provide incubated start-ups that have the right design, marketing strategies and other fundamentals. Further, venture studios help institutes in monetising research activities done by the students and faculty. By integrating student internship credits with venture studio, the college motivates students to participate in entrepreneurial activities and fund scholarship and research activities.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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