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Skills for employability

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dr. Swati Mujumdar, Principal Director, Symbiosis Open Education Society and Vice-Chancellor, Symbiosis and Open University.

In today’s times, the demand for job-specific skills has been growing around the world. Globally, firms say that the quality and supply of skilled labor is a major roadblock to their growth. Employers around the world are also demanding that new hires have both technical and “soft” skills. Competing in today’s global economy is complex.
Countries not only need advanced technical and vocational skills, but also a flexible workforce that can adjust to rapid shifts in demand. That is why investing in skills is so vital to a country’s economic growth and competitiveness. In particular, education systems must be oriented towards producing youth who have both strong foundational skills as well as specific skills for jobs.

It has been observed, countries with higher and better levels of skills adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities in the world of work. Simply put, more and more research suggests that getting a degree, and putting a few letters after your name is just not enough to land you that plum job, or to launch your career. What you need is a portfolio of employability skills. Employers like to recruit graduates who have gone the ‘extra mile’, 'joined in', can work both individually and in a team, shown a capacity for leadership, and demonstrated a willingness to take risks by spending time travelling, and experiencing new situations and cultures. The success of individuals in a knowledge-based economy will increasingly depend upon skills, creativity and imagination. While basic literacy, numeracy, technical skills craft skills remain vital, today’s economy and society increasingly demands people with an ability to cope with change and adapt quickly to new environments and people. That is the reason why Skill Development is so necessary in today’s times. Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development for any country. For instance, India is one of the fastest growing economies with the second largest labour force in the world. But it faces a severe deficit of skilled and employable manpower. Importance of Skilling India Skill development has been considered one of the critical aspects for job creation in India. India has unique demographic advantage with more than 60% of the population is in young age group. But in order to get dividend from such large work force, employability has to be improved. As per current statistics only 10% of the fresh graduates are employable and rest of the 90% lack skills required for eligible to be hired by corporate.

The shortage of candidates with the right skills has many employers changing their strategies so they can reskill and up skill workers who are already on board. This approach requires having specific goals for each employee, and understanding the skills that workers currently hold and the skills they will need to fill future roles. It also requires organizations to modify their training and development programs to ensure that employees have specific knowledge to fill the gaps. And with new technology available, employers will be able to offer more options for mobile and social learning and gamification. Mentoring and peer-to-peer programs are also on the rise. How to manage Skill development in graduates? Skill development starts with identifying future job prospects and segmentation of it according to need and feasibility of training candidates. Stakeholders for skill development need to be identified like Government Entities, State Govt, Private Training Institutes, Large Corporates, NGO and higher education institutions or universities. To make young graduate more industry ready, we need universities to change their orthodox teaching model to skill development model of teaching. Renowned industrious nations in Europe or Americas or Australia have skilling integrated with the higher education where pedagogy itself has learning over machines, inside laboratories or in group activities.

This applies to not only technology or engineering education but also science and management education. We need to look at bringing this skill development model in our universities in larger scale today. Government entities are also focusing their efforts toward skilling the young generation by launching various programs and scaling them up. At the same time, it is also important for an Indian to look at skilling as the most essential aspect in learning than a degree or a certificate. Typically skill education is considered to be secondary in our society at large. This attitude change is also necessary to make skill education a successful part of our life as well as education systems.

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