The Importance Of Work Readiness Career Planning And Development In India

In India, parents send their children to reputed colleges hoping it will make them work-ready. 

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The gap between the skills set of a graduate and the requirement of an organization is prevalent worldwide, in varying degrees in different countries. A recent study conducted by McKinsey & Company across nine countries—Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America—showed that on an average, only 42 per cent of employers felt that new hires were ready for work. In India, parents send their children to reputed colleges hoping it will make them work-ready. 

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The Gaps

Students find that there are several gaps that prevent them from being ready for their careers. Based on my research conducted as an independent project at Harvard Business School, there are several gaps that prevent people from being work-ready. This include self-awareness and self-belief (knowing yourself); life vision (having clarity on what you want from life); perfect communication (both written and spoken); working smart (problem-solving, prioritization, and business ethics); first impression and etiquette; and bridging to career effectively (having the right resume, hard and soft skills, interview skills set, and networking ability). 

Corporates are also unhappy with entry level talent. As per the same McKinsey report, almost 83 per cent of educational institutions believe that their graduates are ready for the market, but only 51 per cent of employers agree with that. This creates a lot of friction between employers and colleges with each putting the burden of upskilling our graduates on each other.

Recent Trends And Changes

In recent years, companies across the globe have experienced an unprecedented change. Significant forces such as globalization, technological advancements, growth of gig work and demographic trends have dramatically affected the composition of the workforce, resulted in the emergence of new business models, rise in demand for new competencies and redefined existing jobs. The rise of start-ups and technology have created many new industries and made several jobs obsolete. Companies face significant unpredictability as they venture to prepare for the workplace of the future which has affected both employers and employees around the world. Colleges cannot keep up with these trends and are unable to update their curriculum in time for corporate demands.

According to a 2018 report of World Economic Forum, the growth of new technologies like machines and algorithms is expected to create 58 million new jobs and displace 75 million existing jobs by 2022 – 133 million new jobs in total. 

New technologies are increasingly being introduced in the workplace such as automation, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Hence, a general increase in the skills, technical knowledge, and formal education of the workforce is required as there is a rising difficulty of finding and recruiting workers with the skills for rapidly evolving jobs.

A Harvard Business School report provides insights into the attitudes of business leaders and workers in India along with unique challenges the country faces. According to the report, business leaders in India were the most likely to report that they were experiencing the effects of automation. The report also highlights the obstacles that workers perceive are preventing them from acting today including unaffordable immediate costs, no time to invest and insufficient employer support.

Potential Solutions And Actions To Be Taken

In India, our academic curriculum needs to be tuned to match industry needs. In addition, project-based learning and internships is more important than ever. This allows for students to get practical exposure and learn on the job, even if their text books cannot get them work-ready. 

If there is a joint effort focused on learning, right from the academicians to companies and the government, we can undoubtedly bridge the skill gap. This requires industry recognized colleges, paid internships and apprenticeship opportunities offered by companies, industry leaders and mentors embedded into the system right from the school years.

Concluding Thoughts

Millennials in India (18-35 years) contribute nearly one half (47 per cent) of the country’s working population. As they are likely to continue to remain the largest chunk of the country's workforce for the next ten years, this is an opportunity as well the need of the hour to make them employable.

According to a recent study by the Global Business Coalition for Education, United Nations Children’s Fund and the Education Commission, more than 50 per cent of Indian youth is not on track to have the education and skills necessary for employment by 2030.

Instead of waiting around for someone to train you or hire you, the youth should take up the challenge of getting work-ready and finding their own career path. They should develop their soft skills, hard skills and focus on garnering as much corporate exposure as possible through internships, jobs and mentorship opportunities.