Employability

As the world enters a new era where connectivity and knowledge reign supreme, India has the potential to book a special place of its own. India is uniquely poised with its abundant young population who are adopting technology at a scorching pace. In the coming years, the paramount challenge of the country's decision makers will be to enable these young turks and handhold them to take the baton of growth. This, however, is not the sole responsibility of the Government and its satellite agencies. The industry and the academia have a huge role to play here, if we need to keep up with the pace of changes happening around us.

The most important question for us is

Is today's average youth employable?

What are the qualities that define "Employability"?

What kind of platform is required to bring the industry and the academia on board to address the skill gaps?

A recent survey says that only 25% of the graduates are really worthy of employment. That means out of every 100 students who pass out of the various professional institutes in the country, 75 don't really know what a professional environment requires and expects them to perform (even if some of them are employed because the survey talks of only employability). That may ring some alarm bells but right now it will go unnoticed as there is enough requirement in the market to let the non-employable students to catch up with the employable ones in say an year or two. However, the macroeconomic conditions are changing and changing fast and that can have an impact on this buffer created by additional requirement in the market. It is imperative at this stage that concrete steps are taken to address this gap in terms of the industry requirements and the applicant's skills. Delays in acting upon this can have significant impact on the progress of our industries at large.

The basic question to be addressed will be what defines "Employability"? While there is a lot of talk about this, this has not been appropriately addressed with the arguments flying back and forth between the Industry and the Academic institutions. The Education system or curriculum has not seen major changes in the recent past nor has the medium of imparting education to students which definitely puts our students in a precarious position where they have to resort to external sources to equip themselves. At the same time it also brings us to the question as to what has changed so drastically that the Industry is vehement in casting doubts about the skills passing out of our academic institutions. Historically, Organizations are known to recruit students from academic institutions based on certain fundamental skills and then train them in specific areas as per their requirements.

Innovation

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, require creative imagination and marks real advance in science."

- Albert Einstein

Innovation holds a special and inevitable place in today's socio-politico-economic environment than ever before. Today Innovation is no longer a differentiator but an item in an organization's mandate just like Productivity, Quality or Cost effectiveness.

Organizations are gearing up to infuse this culture of innovation in their DNA, so that it's employees imbibe this quality in their day to day operations. However, this kind of step brings multitude of challenges along with it, especially in the way people approach a situation or a problem at hand. Employees will have to be encouraged to come up with multiple modus operandi for the same situation and evaluate the associated costs. Employees should be allowed the freedom to try out various options to approach the same issue which could be multidisciplinary in nature. Unless employees and managers start taking these calculated risks, it would be difficult to modify the way we do things around us. This step can run the risk of being at sideways from certain traditional approaches which organizations have built over time. Traditional approaches in a company focus on optimizing the operations and driving down errors or defects and improve quality. Any defect or deference from the normal is dealt with punitive actions and that can have an impact on the risk taking abilities of the employees. Employees and people at large will need support whenever they would like to try something new. This may at times be at the Cost of Quality. How organizations handle the Cost of Quality v/s Cost of Innovation question will be a challenge and the ones which are able to walk this thin line between the 2 costs effectively are prone to bear the fruit in the long run. There are many examples in today's world where Innovation has reaped significant dividends in the long run be it Google, Apple, Amazon, E Bay. They have developed their own approaches to foster the spirit of innovation in their culture while not allowing it dilute their Market performance or Professional stature.

On the other hand Academic institutions have a greater responsibility towards bringing a culture of innovation among its community, the teachers and the taught alike. Academic institutions act as the launchpad for fresh minds to innovate and evolve new ideas and thoughts. While, many of the greatest innovators are known to have dropped out of academic institutions, there is no denying the fact that the ideas which they created was a result of the exposure they had in their respective institutions, be it the friends they had or chance meetings with some person they had in their college. Whether it is Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg or Apple by Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniack duo, Google by Larry Page & Sergey Brin, all of them have been innovative projects that led to become game changers. There is no denying the fact that, Academic institutions in India have a major role to play in the coming years to make sure that the next generation is imaginative enough to come up with new and effective solutions for the complex challenges our world has to offer.

Entrepreneurship

There has been a tremendous increase in the number of Startups in the last few years. An increasing number of young Entrepreneurs are taking to wings their ideas. A settled job with steady income and mortgage is no longer as attractive as it used to be a decade ago. A huge organization tends to suffer from their inherent lack of agility and lack of motivation to bring about changes in their business and operations and offers little scope for creativity and innovation. This is a major reason for many among the youth population, to take up the reins of a Startup venture. An ever changing economic environment, advancements in technology and a globalized world offers the new-age entrepreneur great number of opportunities to seize upon. Today's new ventures are not only based upon new ideas but also on new business models and new modes of reaching customers like internet.

Internet is a hotbed of Entrepreneurial activity for many startups due to its lucrative non-infrastructure based business models. The biggest advantage of Internet is the huge reach it has and the accessibility it provides for new ventures to reach its potential audience. Technology is also revolutionizing this arena with a multitude of tools available in the market to enable new ideas to take shape and grow. Smart phones, Tablets, Cloud based technologies, Social networking are some of the tools at the disposal of today's Entrepreneur. On the other hand, the challenges are also increasing for new ventures to gain the Mindshare of potential customers due to the huge explosion of media activity. The discerning Customer is struggling to decipher the right messages from the huge amount of promotions thrown at him.

These are the 3 major areas that our country should focus in the next 20 years to elevate itself at a better place in the global market.

And, Resolving these issues will require greater collaboration between the Academia and Industry to come up with an agenda to resolve these issues.

We at Skillpro envisage ourselves in a role of facilitators of addressing the Skill gaps. We have a track record of working with Academic Institutions to address the needs of Industry effectively. Our LEAD framework is a step in this direction and provides a sustainable and effective step in this direction.