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Let’s flip the coin – focus on higher education outlook first, employability will naturally follow!

As per a report on the status of higher education in the country jointly released by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and Ernst and Young, around 99% of MBA professionals and about 80% of engineering graduates are currently facing the unemployability qualm.

This is indeed a major situational quagmire as it not only leads to an enormous loss of manpower but also dents the economy. Evidence indicates that less than 20% of the total tech graduates alone are considered employable due to basic factors like lack of industry-level skill needed for engineering jobs as well as the dearth of adept and proficient industry-pertinent curriculums in engineering schools and tech institutes.

After all the central cause behind, the high unemployment levels in the country are unemployability. The failure to commission appropriate jobs to professionals on account of the glaring skill vacuum has resulted in a severe crisis. That said, the bulk of the onus to ensure upskilling falls on the education sector as current employability metrics across industries call for a major paradigm shift at the grass-root level. It is high time we focus on structuring pertinent industry-centric curriculum in higher education. With that facelift in place, there will be a revolutionary change in terms of students’ knowledge and skill. And in such a scenario, employability will be merely an offshoot of the undertaking.

Reasons behind the notion of unemployment is unemployability:

According to a study in 2020, 80% of the newly minted engineers were unemployable despite possessing better core technology competency. The survey attributed this shortcoming to the model of sub-par curriculum in the higher education courses. As a result, a huge chunk of passing out graduates lacked any employable knowledge around modern technology domains such as AI, ML and Big Data. The Indian sub-continent churns out more than 6 million graduates every year. However, it is quite the case that majority of them are not industry-relevant because of the wide skill gap.

As per a UGC report, out of the total 17,425 teaching posts across UGC funded Central Universities, as many as 35% of the same are lying vacant due to dearth of eligible applicants. Thus, the student-faculty ratio is adversely affected. This is to say that the increasing rate of higher education enrolment over the last few years overtakes the growth of faculty strength by several margins. Also, only 5% of institutes have a tie-up with industry players. This unfavourable status will create a deep gorge between students and industry expertise.

According to the report generated by DATALABS by INC42, the future of India’s sprawling $2Bn EdTech vista will depend vastly on the sector’s ability to mandate reskilling modules for about half of the country’s professionals by 2022 to meet the talent demands of Industrial Revolution 4.0. As per government estimates, only 2.3 per cent of India’s workforce has undergone some level of formal skills training. The rest of the workforce needs an immediate injection of skill enhancement and updated training sessions to make them job-ready and up-to-task.

To that end, efforts and resources must be allocated towards the upskilling of the upcoming industrial workforce. The absence of the necessary learning infrastructure greatly impedes the growth of youngsters who are essentially the future. Without the imperative change in place, the currently prevailing employability gap will continue to get momentum and continue to deprive industries of their much-needed human capital.

Where are the job opportunities lying?

With the advent of the digital age, a plethora of new avenues have spring up that are built on technological advancements and constant innovation. The digitization of erstwhile manual processes has given way to the emergence of next-gen technologies that are macrocosmic in terms of their widespread utility. These skills of the future include Blockchain, AI, ML, Data science, AI Marketing, Business analytics, etc. Though India still lags substantially in these newly sprouted tech dimensions, a report by NASSCOM has revealed that new-age tech start-ups have directly contributed to the creation of over 60,000 jobs this year by optimizing these novel technologies. Moreover, there has been an approximate 40% rise in future skills career profiles. Now that we armed with ample opportunities, there is a stark need for the higher education curriculum of learning faculties to match the evolving industry standards.

In a nutshell, New industries and jobs will continue to emerge and for one to thrive in the new employment landscape, familiarity with new industry tools is of the essence.

A resolution to seize available opportunities!

To bridge this prevailing gap, an initiative for change must emerge from the upper rungs of the education sector. Key administrative decision makers, academicians and relevant governing bodies must wake up to the call for a reshuffle in curriculum in favour of industrial exposure across all courses for graduation and post-graduation. The University/College curriculum needs to be outcome-based, where the outcome includes required job-skills and not just rote knowledge.

Rising Higher Education standards!

To that end, entities such as EdTech companies can bring in value by helping in the mass facilitation of enhanced employability-centric curriculum. A few new-age EduTech enterprises are already achieving milestones in designing industry-centric curriculum for universities and have integrated courses on modern technologies that include the likes of AI, Blockchain, Data Science, Cybersecurity, IoT, thereby designing a model of thinking in an interdisciplinary manner. Considering the partnerships between higher education institutions and Ed-Tech companies with their industry-led

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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