Education Vs Employability – Bridging the Gap

“Teaching thinking for just five hours to unemployed youngsters increased employment 500 per cent” – Edward de Bono

Correlating education with job prospects is a concern which countries are tackling globally. To top it, when the economic fluctuations cause a slowdown in the job market, the number of educated unemployed rises greatly. Closer home, the situation is quite grim with the unemployment rate expected around 4.80% by the end of this year. The literacy rate in India, too, is highly skewed with different states coming in at different levels. Yet, the overall percentage stands at a worrying 74.04%. Such statistics highlight the need to bring together education with employability. According to a 2012 McKinsey survey, 54% students in India opined that their postsecondary studies improved their employment opportunities. In other words, that means, approximately only 50% believe in our education system as being fruitful. At the same time, 53% Indian employers feel that the huge unemployment rate at the entry-level is due to a severe skills shortage. Such lack of skills then furthers “significant problems in terms of cost, quality, time”, and so on. Correlating these figures it becomes imperative to understand what causes such a situation as well as how this gap between the education our youth receives and the avenues where it can be implemented, i.e. the job prospects, can be worked upon to benefit both the parties.

At all the levels of education, the unemployment rate is higher in the rural areas compared to the urban areas. The primary reason for this being that no longer does a farmer’s son wish to stay back in his village and continue working in the fields when a city life seems more bright. However, not all are able to secure a job immediately upon arrival and some even end up taking menial work to earn money. Instead, a vocational course or an educational qualification in say agriculture may do him good. He can put into practice what he studies and thus create employability for himself. Also, creating job opportunities in the rural sector is of utmost need. Developing a strong cottage industry will bring the youth into mainstream workforce thus blending their knowledge with creating the livelihood.

That brings us to the next inter-related aspect of industrial training. There are very few institutions in India which offer hands-on technical training to the youth. Most colleges offer only a prescribed curriculum which is basically textbook learning. The result being once the students graduate, they are in no position to directly apply their course material with the industry demands. In the current competitive market, companies cannot spend time and money training the new recruits on basic technicalities. If only the education system itself prepares the students to tackle work situations, they will be in better demand for job positions. It also implies giving the teachers access to industrial training as well. For this, industry experts need to come together along with the education policy makers to create a system which will have a balance of the written material and its application. Once students know the practical value of their education, they will be in a better position to take efforts in the right direction. This will help in creating the right kind of employability which our country currently requires.

Another point worth taking into consideration is how to boost use of technology in everyday education framework. As the world is progressing and the way job markets are evolving, the need of the hour is to have thorough expertise over technological advancements. India is a global hub for cheaper available talent. If we can reduce the costs of integrating technology and multimedia into mainstream curriculum, bring in ICT to expose students to real time applications, it will go a long way in providing holistic education, thus securing their employment ability.

As India’s former President and noted scientist Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had once stated, when asked about how our education system can contribute to the Indian employment sector, “The education system must stress the importance of entrepreneurship; banking system should provide venture capital; and lastly, entrepreneurs should produce competitive products”. It is interesting to imagine how a blend of this three-fold suggestion will actually work in favour of the future citizens of this country.

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