For a society, education is still the best pathway to upward mobility. But, to deliver on its promise, educational journey must deliver a meaningful outcome…a productive, responsible citizen.
Today, the majority of college students in India don’t have an outcome in-hand on the day they complete their education, due to lack of job readiness. This is not only a problem for students, parents, and educational institutions, but rather a problem for the nation/society. This problem is further compounded for students from rural areas and for the families facing socio-economic challenges.
For India to achieve its full potential, its college graduates need to possess strong fundamental employability skills and abilities such as work ethic, communication, creative problem solving and teamwork.
Educational journey of millions of college students in India needs to be more than just classes, exams, and certificates.
It also needs to be about experiences while in college, gained through experiential learning opportunities and extracurricular activities. Colleges in India have a well-defined academic pathway that leads to graduation/certificate but lack a clear pathway that leads to an outcome.
The competitive job market and the rising ambitions of students are raising the expectations on educational institutions. Many students (and their parents) regard post-college employment as the primary measure of value provided by a higher education institution.
The workplace of today is vastly different from the past. Today’s workplace is more fluid and agile, with a strong need for collaboration and communication. It has gone from physical walls to a virtual environment—from the cubicle to collaborative space. To be successful in today’s workplace, employees need to work well on a team, have good communication skills, be digitally competent, and be good critical thinkers.
“At its core, how we work in the future will be more networked, more devolved, more mobile, more team-based, more project-based, more collaborative, more real-time, and more fluid. Digital technology is having a profound effect on the twenty-first- century organization. It is fundamentally changing the way we work, the way we manage, where we work, how we organize, the products we use, and how we communicate.”
The employers of today expect college graduates to bring in more than a degree certificate. They want job ready college graduates. There are two factors to being job ready, in addition to a certificate:
- Having employability skills developed through experiences. Employability skills are foundational skills that make your students employable and successful in any job, in the short and long term.
- Being job-search ready with the right tools and preparation
Educational institutions in India have two options:
OPTION 1: Do business as usual and risk becoming irrelevant
OPTION 2: Rise to the market challenges through global best practices
Focusing on instilling knowledge alone is not enough. Helping students plan and achieve their career potential is also critical. Institutions around the world are making deliberate efforts to transform their institutions to promote better outcomes, learning and career. The ultimate survival and success of an educational institution depends on success of its students.
India’s educational institutions can play a critical role in enabling a successful post-education pathway forward for their students, including helping their students successfully transition from college to career:
- Providing pathways to improve their students’ success and outcomes
- Establishing term-specific plans to improve their students’ employability, starting from the orientation day
- Integrating experiences into academics
- Developing critical skills employers are looking for through academic, experiential, and extracurricular experiences
- Creating a strong sense of community and belonging through mentoring
- Nurturing alumni network for mentoring and job opportunities
- Getting their students job search ready by facilitating setting career goals, assessing self, developing a resume, and preparing for interviews
- Making it easy for employers to recruit their students
- Providing 24/7, year-round recruiting, leveraging technology
- Reducing manual work for employers, and their students and placement staff
- Offering comprehensive student profile to employers
- Supporting employer-student engagement through information sessions, seminars, and workshops
- Empowering their academic and administrative staff: Principal, HODs, Faculty, Placement
- Enhancing visibility into students and their academic and job readiness progress
- Offering on-demand communication and engagement with students
The foundational employability skills are usually not developed in the classroom or learnt simply by reading books but developed through experiences, experiential and extracurricular. College students do not have to have held a job or an internship to prove to an employer that they have relevant employability skills to succeed in their work environment. They can gain experience without having been employed, through a myriad of ways…at their college, their home and in their community.
It’s high time the Indian higher educational system ups its game and focuses on student outcomes.
Vasu Eda is the author of Get Job Ready – How to Land Your Dream Job Out of College, published by Penguin Random House India. The primary reason for writing the book is to help address the youth unemployment issue in India head on. Built on global best practices, Get Job Ready lays out a clear framework and steps to develop a successful transition, while in college, from college to job/career. He is also CEO of RiseSharp Technologies, with a mission to change the college-to-job trajectory for college students in India.