Employability-Based Education System with Entrepreneurial Philosophy
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Several surveys and estimates peg unemployment in India at around 50 million people! It has become commonplace to hear from friends and family, that despite a higher-education, a coveted degree, the candidate is sitting idle due to lack of job opportunities. Similarly, one often finds out that the person who is driving one’s taxi, or even somebody who is distributing one’s morning papers, turns out to be a highly qualified Engineer, or an MBA, who has no option but to earn a livelihood through alternative means, because there just don’t seem to be employment options, commensurate to the number of trained professionals the country is producing.
What has gone wrong? That is a question that could be analysed and debated till the sun goes down. What perhaps we would be better served investing time in, is to device how education itself, could be moulded to be more employability-related. That could possibly diminish this wide gap that exists between qualified youth and ample employment.
Skill Based Education
It could be argued that our education system focuses almost entirely on domain knowledge, that too with a bias towards rote-learning. Students, especially at the school level, are made into mugging-robots, who commit entire texts to memory, often without any genuine interest, curiosity, or real-world application of what they are being taught. Ask many students about this and they will admit to questioning the relevance of what they are being made to learn – be it reams of history, copious lists of formulae.
As students become more senior, their education, one that has been built on this culture of irrelevant knowledge only tends to increase, and they grow increasingly disillusioned with themselves and with the world they inhabit. When they finally get out into the world, it is only their on-paper degree or qualification that makes them eligible for a job, a career, a vocation. Now this system of matching education to a career, primarily on-paper, had been working up until recently. But straddled with a job paucity and a disconnect between a candidate’s actual education and job deliverables; this is no longer the case, and hence, the markedly higher rates of unemployment.
If, at school level itself, we inculcated an ethos of education that included ‘skills development’, perhaps that could alleviate the situation. For instance, there is a student who is not academically bright (in the traditional sense) but has a natural flair for time management, organizational skills, and people-pleasing; these skills could be honed, evolved into a potent resource, eventually making for a lucrative and satisfying career in Events Management. But this will happen only when the education system overhauls itself and becomes more skill-based, identifies key skill-sets that are needed in different vocations, and provides both instructions as well as the opportunity to students to develop those skills.
The other absolutely vital aspect of an education that is more connected to the real world of earning a livelihood actually has to do with a shift in mindset. Somehow, in our institutions of basic education as well as higher-learning, we have been nurturing followers, not leaders – doers, not inventors – workers, not entrepreneurs. Perhaps it is the mindset where a safe, secure, regular income takes precedence over any kind of risk-taking.
However, if only we had an educational environment that encourages and promotes the entrepreneurial spirit over job-based qualification; we might end up in a situation where people, after finishing their formal education, are not seeking jobs, rather creating them.
Work for the Self (rather than for someone else)
Identifying a Market Need (and coming up with a solution)
These three aspects of Entrepreneurship must be introduced and nurtured right from middle school, through events, activities, as well as skills and knowledge-enhancement. Slowly but surely then, we will move towards an atmosphere of self-reliance where students graduating college will not be solely dependent on the job market in order to build their lives.
This simple but often-ignored facet of education – awareness, correct information, and exposure. All three things are almost entirely missing from our students’ lives. There are merely a handful of schools that offer any kind of guidance, academic or career counselling, industry exposure to their students. As a result, thousands of students make crucial decisions about their subject and subsequent career choices without accurate information or insight, leading to a disconnect between education and career, eventually making for a life of anger and frustration. There is still hardly any aptitude testing or information dissemination that acquaints students not just with what is out there, and what they need to study in order to streamline their education and careers; as a society, we do not focus enough on WHAT the student’s passions and talents are, choosing instead to treat a career and an interest as mutually exclusive entities.
A robust system of awareness-building in terms of aptitude, careers, courses, and industry will help students make infinitely more informed decisions that will, at least in some small part, alleviate the current disconnect between education and career.
Employability is a must. We need to work in order to subsist, sustain, provide from our families and for ourselves. If a few right steps can be introduced at school itself, this process will become a lot more certain, better informed, and happier!