Thursday, 8 August 2013


I dare say that no degree or diploma or any qualification in the world guarantees a good job or a good package until and unless one develops the right set of skills in oneself. And being unmindful of developing these skills, one remains eligible only but not necessarily employable.

Continuing the same theme I discussed in the last blog post ‘ENGLISH VINGLISH’, now it’s time for some more reality check. Yes, I do know that we are on track of ‘Communication and Soft Skills.’ But before I start, I would like to talk about two specific terms; ‘Eligibility’ and ‘Employability’. As per my own professional as well as personal experiences, I dare say that no degree or diploma or any qualification in the world guarantees a good job or a good package until and unless one develops the right set of skills in oneself. Even for the past few years, If you observe the marketing and promotional gimmicks of professional institutions in India a bit closely, you will notice that many of them who were at one point in time, were boasting of 100% ‘Placement Assurance’ to attract the attention of their prospective clients (read students and their investor parents), they too felt the heat soon and quietly replaced this term with 100% ‘Placement Assistance’. No wonder, now they were/ are not to blame for not being able to place their students in some good companies. But here, I would like to add on one more remark, that colleges must not be perceived as placement agencies. I believe an educational institution must project themselves as an abode of knowledge, a training-house of skills and a centre of attitude building. And the rest is up to the students.

Now Back to business! Yes, we were discussing ‘Eligibility’ and ‘Employability’ issue of our Indian youth. Looking at the current ‘Industry readiness’ of our students pursuing their professional courses, needless to say that most of them are not well equipped with those KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Attitude) which make them Job-Fit or Culture-Fit. Yes, they are lagging far behind and this is something of serious concern. In a paper titled ‘B-Schools and engineering colleges shut down — big business struggles’, the Associate Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has revealed that merely 10% of graduates from business schools [aside from the top 20 business schools like the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)] manage to get hired by the corporate India on an average every year. In the last five years, the number of MBA seats annually in India has tripled from 4,500 to as many as 3.6 lakh but campus recruitments have gone down by 40% in the same period. The bad news continues with the study estimating that 180 schools had shut down in 2012 in major cities like Delhi and the NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata while another 160 struggled for survival. Only 10% of the students graduating from these colleges were found employable.

Now talking about engineering as a professional course in particular, statistics say that Engineering and Technology Graduates made up 7% of India's 5,090,799 - strong fresh talent pool in 2012. This stream is expected to grow at a compounded growth rate of 6% as against 4.1% in the case of medicine. A latest survey reports, "Just 3% Engineers are Job-Ready."  The highlights of the survey sums up, "(i) The percentage of ready-to-deploy engineers for IT jobs is dismally low at 2.68 per cent. Only 17.45 per cent of them are employable for the IT services sector. (ii) Concentrating on increasing quantity of engineers has impacted quality drastically. (iii) Potential of these skills – About 30 million job vacancies for skilled force is available at any point of time all round the year. As a recruiter myself, what I have observed during my tenure with IT industry is that candidates with English skills above the local average stand out from the crowd. Studies show that they garner 30-50 per cent higher salaries than similarly-qualified candidates without English skills. With English fluency being one of the key qualities, recruiters look for during the interview process. 

"Just 3% Engineers are Job-Ready."
A report based on a test conducted on 55,000 students from around 250 engineering colleges in India on the English learning levels of engineering graduates, Minds Computer Adaptive Test (AMCAT) finds some shocking results. (i) More than 25% engineers don’t possess English comprehension skills required to understand engineering school curriculum. (ii) Only 57% engineers can write grammatically correct sentences in English Less than 48% engineers understand moderately sophisticated words of English. (iii) More than half of all engineers (52%) would not be fluent in a majority of words that are used with regular frequency at the workplace. (iv) Around 50% engineers possess grammar skills that are not better than a Class VII student. (v) Further, it said 36 per cent of engineering graduates would be unable to read official reports and transcripts and derive information out of these, even when the information is explicitly stated. And the list goes on…
Candidates are technically good but many of them lack knowledge of English.
A remarkable research paper titled ‘Lost In Translation’ clearly brings into the open the eligibility vs. employability issue of an Indian IT professional. The paper explains, “English-speaking tech talent is limited. Today, the industry is rapidly expanding its employment base, and there is no option but to look at the available talent pool, where employability is the biggest issue. So, vast numbers of those joining the IT workforce now are from tier II and III towns, and though they are technically good, many of them lack knowledge of English, and they lack what’s called soft skills—etiquette, proper conduct in different settings. For an international business like IT, this is a huge challenge. If the employability was about 60% among urban applicants, it is a mere 10% among those who come from smaller towns around the country. These candidates have good academic records, possess sound technical knowledge but unluckily their English speaking skills are not good enough. Companies see clarity in communication as being critical at the workplace for individuals and teams to function seamlessly. Candidates may look great on paper, and that’s it. To deal with the issue, IT companies too have increased the time spent on training on soft skills and communication from 10% to 30%.”

For India, the difficulty level for 
organisations to fill up the jobs is 48%.
A 2011 paper published by three researchers with the World Bank and the Florida and Connecticut universities suggests that the ability to communicate in English is a must to be eligible for better pay packets. The research paper titled “The returns to English-language skills in India” says that hourly wages are on an average 34% higher for men who speak fluent English and 13% higher for men who speak a little English relative to men who do not speak English at all. Another report prepared by iValue Consulting for the British High Commission projects the market for English language training (ELT) to nearly double to $4.65 billion in 2015 from $2.75 billion in 2012. According to the report, the vocational training segment has the most potential, as the government works towards its goal of training 500 million people by 2022. Considering the seriousness of skill deficiency, skill development has become one of the priority agendas of the government for the Twelfth Five Year Plan. The government has doubled the allocation of funds for skill development under the National Skill Development Fund by Rs.10 billion in the Union Budget 2012-13. Ficci Ernst and Young published a paper on ‘Knowledge paper on skill development in India,’ which says, “For India, the difficulty level for organisations to fill up the jobs is 48%, which is above the global standard of 34% in 2012.”

English is Important at least for those who pursue professional
courses and aspire to achieve greater heights in their career.
After all is said and done, there is no doubt about the fact that English is Important at least for those who pursue professional courses and aspire to achieve greater heights in their career. And it all comes down to becoming proficient at ‘Communication and Soft Skills’. And being unmindful of developing these skills, one remains eligible only but not necessarily employable. It’s certainly a ‘make or break’ situation. As English author Chetan Bhagat had also said, "We need to change our thinking and our attitude to  English. We have to embrace English like never before. Not England, but English. …really taking it to the grassroot level. English and Hindi can co-exist. Hindi is the mother and English is the wife. It is possible to love them both. And we must not confuse patriotism with the skills one needs to compete in the real world. I can teach a villager geometry and physics in Hindi, but frankly when he goes to look for a job he is going to find that education useless. English will get him a job. There is massive demand for something that will improve people’s lives. I have no special soft spot for this language, but the fact is it works in the world of today. And if more English helps spread prosperity evenly across the country, trust me we will preserve our culture a lot better than a nation that can barely feed its people.

...and I hope Mr. Minister certainly gets his due reply. Right ?!!

[In my next blog post, get to know the role of 'Soft Skills' in one's professional life. Don't Miss It !] 

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