Addressing Unemployability of Graduates and Students through Experiential Learning Learning through actually experiencing is the need of the hour, if skill gaps and employability issues are to be addressed
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Addressing skill gaps amongst today's students and fresh graduates is seemingly a great challenge when we consider the fact that multiple researches have clearly proved that today's new graduates still have a long way to go with respect to securing quality employment that is in tune with skills acquired. In this regard, a lot of entrepreneurs have come out and started ventures to address issues; however, not all of them stand out when it comes to actually addressing skill gaps amongst students/fresh graduates and making employees in an organization learn new aspects.
Adecco India is one firm that is clearly focussed on mitigating the above issues, with a variety of programs such as the Way to Work program started in 2013 to tackle youth unemployment and skill shortages, along with developing employability of fresh graduates to enable them gain better starts at work. Recently, the firm also held its second Experience Work Day that equips; qualifying students; with job-ready skills through Experiential Learning.
To understand more on Adecco's entrepreneurial focus on guiding youngsters towards employment and skilling, Entrepreneur India interacted with Anviti Sangwan who is Director of Human Resources at Adecco Group India.
Analysing the gaps in today's learning, is the key
Sangwan believes that the need of the hour is to implement a holistic approach to education, and more so to technical education which according to her plays an important role in the development of the country's human resource via creation of skilled manpower and enhancing industrial productivity.
"Most of the educational institutions lack in their ability to prepare candidates for the real working world," states Sangwan.
Being somebody who increasingly interacts with candidates, she states that most of them are not well equipped when it comes to facing complexities of the professional realm.
According to her, it is vital that every young graduate/interview candidates should be equipped with effective interpersonal skills, basic computer knowledge, and the ability to converse in English; whilst being team players.
Fresh graduates do not become job ready on acquiring a degree
Sangwan reasons that it is the lack of additional skill sets that keeps fresh graduates (and students) away from obtaining employment.
"Most fresh graduates think they are job ready on obtaining their degree. At this point, education and up-skilling is the strategic necessity," informs Sangwan.
She adds, from experience (as a HR Director), that students resorting to rote-learning curriculum would not generally be in a position to act spontaneously during recruitment processes.
"The implications for the higher education sector are clear: create graduates who are more agile, have a solid understanding of how the workplace works and can see how their skills fit into it," recommends Sangwan.
To achieve smooth transition into the workforce, students should open up to practical experiences, in addition to conventional classroom learning.
Experiential Learning – The future of learning for students
Sangwan asserts that Experiential Learning should help students (and fresh graduates) cultivate practical skills required during recruitments today.
"It helps in bridging the gap between theory and practice while focussing on skill building for each individual," says Sangwan.
Fundamentally, Experiential Learning educates students enabling them to learn from experience where skills, awareness, and understanding are acquired outside of traditional classrooms.
Experiential Learning in Education – Project based learning (PBL) is a teacher-facilitated learning process where students gain knowledge and develop skills by investigating, and responding to real-world situations, engaging through inquiry-based learning and handling of challenges. The projects are centred on students' learning where they take ownership of their learning and develop skills like Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication.
In summary, futuristic models are the key for educating young minds in today's society that is moving towards a Knowledge Economy. Sangwan also has another term for Experiential Learning; which is Experiential Brick & Portal Learning (EBPL).
Adecco's Experience Work Day – Adding to Experiential Learning
Entrepreneur India sought to know more on the practical realities of Adecco's Experience Work Day, to which Sangwan stated that more than three million people around the world have benefitted from the program since its inception in 2012.
"Adecco Group experts across 700 branches in 46 countries, all giving their time to helping young people gain experience and improve their job prospects," states Sangwan.
In 2018, 500 students in India visited Adecco offices in Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai; to interact with teams across functions like Human Resources (HR), Finance, Marketing and Communication, IT, Legal and Compliance.
These students were also given an opportunity to participate in a workshop on Digital Presence for Youngsters to Start their Careers in the Corporate World.
"They also gained insights into what employers look for and how to successfully navigate a fast-moving labour market," informed Sangwan.
Experiential Learning at the workplace too
Not only students and fresh graduates, but even employees at the workplace are today unsatisfied with respect to learning new skills. As per Sangwan, the key to achieving wholesome learning within corporate is to convert learning sessions and boring presentations to interactive session and lively contests.
"Employees feel they belong to the company when they see that their employers give them a platform to unleash their creativity," says Sangwan.
"It is not the deficiencies or lack of skill sets in an employee but the opportunities they can be provided with, to learn and to gain new knowledge and skills that will positively contribute towards the organisation."
Upskilling is the key for sustenance
With the Indian labour force slated to grow exponentially by 2020, it is only natural to think about accommodating the sheer number of graduates within workplaces. The key to mitigation here would be Upskilling.
"India should educate and train the workforce in next-generation technologies revolving around industry 4.0 so that they are prepared to handle the current trend of automation that includes artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, and more, "adds Sangwan signifying the recent layoffs that the IT sector has witnessed.