Bridge the gap between corporate need for skilled manpower

TC is a middle class parent who took a loan to equip his son with a coveted management degree from one of Mumbai’s recognized management institutes with the hope that this investment would reap rich professional as well as financial benefits for his son. Disillusionment first set in when his son spent seven months post the completion of his course, in finding a suitable job. Though he is now employed, there is no sense of professional or financial gratification in his current job. In the meanwhile, TC continues to pay the EMIs for the loan.

Similar tales of dissatisfaction among management graduates have now become commonplace. The degree is just not enough. Many of the current management graduates and seniors, who were academically outstanding, are still grappling with the ropes in the job market. There is something missing between the academia and the employment quotient.

Employability is increasingly becoming an issue with fresh management graduates. The Indian industry is undergoing a paradox. On one hand there is vast unemployment or under employment and on the other a number of industries face a shortage of talent at various levels. For instance, there is a 90 per cent shortage of risk managers and 75 per cent shortage of credit operational professionals in the Banking Financial Service and Insurance (BFSI) sector alone. There is a huge mismatch between skills that academic institutions inculcate in their students and the skills required by industries due to poor and inadequate industry academia linkages.

Graduates and post graduates, without industry specific skills constitute 69 per cent of the employed people. An organization pioneered with the purpose of enhancing employability by adopting a holistic outlook in providing end to end services via a technological framework that ensures effective collaboration between colleges, students and corporates.

This lack of skills, is conspicuous in most business sectors, particularly hospitality, finance (insurance/retail), banking. IT, telecom, etc prominently more so, in functions related to customers interactions like sales, logistics, retail and supply, customer support and service, customer relationship management and customer operations.

There is a rising discontent amongst corporates. A senior manager with an MNC, responsible for employing new recruits says their expectations from fresh management recruits increasingly seem to be underplayed. They invariably end up wasting time energy and resources in re-training new employees. They want people with an attitude to learn and a strong sense of loyalty towards the organization. The corporates and MNCs are scouting for a ready to deploy workforce which would lead to sustainable and competitive advantage.

Statistics, based on a niche research conducted among corporate professionals directly in charge of hiring fresh management graduates, establishes that qualification like the degree, name of the institute and other qualifications or even an impressive performance in group discussions and interviews don’t guarantee much in the corporate atmosphere. A unanimous and explicit complaint voiced against freshers is the appalling lack of soft-skills training including presentation, communication, stress management, required aptitude and attitude as well as awareness leading to the inability to make informed choices or decisions, etc. The hard skills area that show wanting include insufficient grounding in business development and sales as also lack of basics in verticals like retail insurance and telecom, among others previously mentioned.

Providing an answer to this looming crisis:
The need of the hour is to bridge this gap between corporate need for skilled manpower and unemployed graduates and postgraduates through structured assessment and training. The training should be focused on increasing an individual’s ability to gain initial employment and maintain employment by acquiring dynamic human capital of employers.

There is an urgent need for training management graduates. No doubt that there is a widespread need for skills concentric in management institutes belonging to the tier II and III categories. It would be perfect if the current educational infrastructure is used for training final year students on a pan India scale. This infrastructure would enable training not just at a superficial level but also into the Indian heartland were a good percentage of the ambitious youth yearn for higher management education and wish to make it big in the corporate world.

This brings to light a major factor that many tend to overlook, that is the need for reach beyond India’s metros into the smaller, semi-urban pockets of the country. According to an ASSOCHAM Eco Pulse (AEP) study, sectors like IT, education, financial services and real estate have enabled the top 15 tier II cities to corner more than 20 per cent of the job space in the first fiscal of 2008. The buoyancy in the Indian economy appears to have penetrated in the smaller cities as well. If adequate attention is provided for building infrastructure and nurturing the talent pool in these emerging cities, the contribution of these cities in employment generation would increase manifold.