Education & Employability

Education & Employability

The new academic year is well under way. Every day, students from across all differentiating lines get ready, neat partings and pressed shirts, and set off to receive a quantum of knowledge. Every day, guardians watch their wards, as they tote a bag of ruled books that will document their journey through the year, aspirations pinned firmly to their backs. Qualifications, certifications and degrees form the foundation for this hoped future, and the success stories that surround them constitute a proof of concept. Education is no end to itself, such extravagance being ill conceived, given the context. Rather, an education is a means to achieve the relatively lasting security of salaried employment. The greater the length of the alphabet soup after one’s name, the grander one’s grasp of the world as we know it. Right? Wrong! The way we “do” education has seen some dismal results in this particular employment-chasing endeavor, which tell a different story…

How is it that “entry” level roles in businesses require a “minimum of 3 years relevant experience”? Enthusiastic graduates of Business Administration and Commerce leave college, diploma in hand, ready to launch their careers; yet, they are turned down for jobs because of a lack of experience. The reality is that businesses are looking for employees with more than the theory found in a text book. They are looking for employees with skills.

Even as businesses grow and expand and look for more skilled workers to take on roles to support that growth, few universities are responding with shifts in their education models. What is needed is a way of learning that closes the education and skills gap and provides international possibilities.

Not all students have the ability or opportunity to work during their education. And if you couple that with their course being strongly theory-based, with little or no exposure to internships, the students may come out of their undergraduate education seemingly “behind the curve” in having applicable experience or any relevant experience at all.

It’s the opportunity to both learn skills AND also apply them that creates a complete education; one where students are able to put the theory they are learning into practice through work done in real company settings, contributing to the company’s goals and initiatives.

When learning happens in a hands-on environment, with enough time to understand and apply a skill and with the deliverables, goals, and expectations clearly defined, students get a more direct understanding of the “how to” behind a concept or task.

And when they work with others, they understand how to plan and schedule work flow, how to create workability through managing team dynamics, how to communicate across an organization, and how to propose ideas in contribution to the bigger picture.

The 2014 National Employability Report, published by Aspiring Minds (AM), is revealing. In overall terms of employability, AM’s statistical model conveys that a minimum of 47% of the five million graduates were not fit to be employed in any sector.

The author of this article is Assistant Professor, Pioneer Institute of Professional Studies Indore.

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