More than 4 million students graduate out of Indian technical institutes every year. It is a huge number but really speaking, it is a ‘herd’. Stuides indicate that the employability quotient of these graduates and diploma holders is as low as 18%. We also need to remember that a significantly high percentage of this 4 million i.e. around 1 million went for technical studies only because their parents told them to.
Most engineering institutes in the western and central states are sponsored / run / operated by big-ticket politicians. While they have to attract the cream candidates and need a decent infrastructure, on an average the graduate from Indian technical institutes suffers from:
- Exposure to outdated curriculum
- Lack of practical knowledge
- Lack of industry knowledge
Infact, it is much more valuable to take up a diploma course than a degree course as it provides more ‘practical’ and ‘hands-on’ exposure. However, diploma holders are not well received by the industry. Their starting salaries are meager and their lack of outwardly sophistication outplays their strong technical knowledge.
Companies struggle to find talent. You may wonder how can that be when the source is outputting 4 million targets.
Companies hire from institutes that are reputed i.e. IIT, Regional Colleges and Government Colleges, or institutes that ‘vet’ and market themselves. All in all, companies tap into a very small number, at best 1 to 5 % of the total graduating population for active hiring. And yet, they do not trust the knowledge of these students and send them into another level of training which is mostly again theoretical.
One of the companies we studied, a shining star of the Indian IT industry, puts the candidates through a 6 months finishing school before they are assigned real work. Most such fresh-hires don’t even find any difference between college classes and what they go through in the first six months.
Another core technical company that we studied closely hires mostly based on the “behavorial” soft-skills of the candidates as they don’t get any time and don’t know of any way to spot candidates who are “innovative” and “practical”. They rarely are able to select new hires that are talented enough to be accelerated in the career and they rarely cater to a one-to-one skill gap determination. Even if they do, they don’t have in them to aid the candidate overcome that deficiency. Companies expect a mix of ‘innovation’ and ‘street smartness’ from the hired candidates, however they don’t have the ways to filter these elements before hiring. It is obvious that retention will be an issue.
What is the need of the hour, is proactivity. It is to hire right at the source and for that appropriate mechanisms have to be devised. Technical interviews need to be converted into games tackling real world challenges with more than one candidate being assessed at a given time. Methods have to be laid out for tapping into all 4 million candidates with a stage-wise filtering. There are a select few companies who do this. They are countable.
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