Educated, but Unemployable

On Thursday afternoon i was privileged to share the stage with some great minds as part of the Aspire Skillsworld Event in Gurgaon. Amongst other things we had a fascinating panel discussion about “What Employers Want, What Educators Want”. In a lively debate there was plenty of acknowledgment that there is a disconnect between what is happening in education in the country and what employers (and therefore, ultimately, the country’s economy) need.

Understandably, some of the educators wanted to make the case for seeing education’s aims as being far broader than ’employability’ – education for education’s sake. However, the majority concluded that in a ‘high aspiration’ climate of a developing country strong correlation is inevitable. I sought to express the view that Industry and businesses need to get far more sophisticated about their recruitment methodologies, so that the message is clear to parents and students that what they’re interested in his holistic character attributes and lifelong learning skills, not high percentages and the best college names.

I also stressed that, as in other countries, companies need to engage with academicians and ensure that their voice is heard in the debate when curriculum is being designed, when government are passing such vital legislation as the Right to Education Act. Educators would welcome this approach from business as it would strengthen our ability to focus upon skills development instead of the accumulation of de-contextualized factual knowledge in the pursuit of percentages.

Dilip Chenoy, Head of the National Skill Development Corporation – he’s quoted in this recent Yahoo article on the subject:

Yahoo Finance Article on Employability

When the evidence facing us all is so overwhelming that what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working – we have to be ready to change and for all stakeholders to be a part of the debate about the form those changes should take. In response to the final line of the article i don’t believe it’s about a choice between degrees or skills-based learning, but rather an approach that takes students inside the discipline of a subject, so that they can understand how to use new knowledge, synergise the knowledge acquired from different fields and apply creativity. In the process, issues of communication skills, personal confidence etc. would naturally be addressed as more attention is paid to the processes of learning, rather than all the emphasis on ‘content’.

The event was also greatly enhanced by the presence of Saina Nehwal, surely the ‘hottest’ Indian sportsperson right now, disarmingly honest when she talks about what it takes to be at the top of any field. her dedication and commitment to reach the peak is phenomenal. I was lucky to meet her a year ago. Over that time, i see even more ‘steel’ in her resolve, more maturity and determination. She is a superb role model for youngsters today. She was interviewed by Shiv Khera.

Congratulations have to go to Amit Bhatia and his enthusiastic team at Aspire for bringing a formidable bunch of people together on the day, for the great work Aspire are doing and for coping so well with the unexpected plan changes caused by the pre-monsoon cloudburst!!

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