Connect with us

Blog

Enhancing employability for young Indians: Lessons for policymakers, academics

What can we do to improve the quality of millions of graduates coming out of India’s education system? How can India convert millions of “degree flaunting” millennials into employable young men and women?

Published

on

Enhancing employability

Like many proud Indians, I get upset when faced with alarming reports that point to the poor employment rate of India’s college and university graduates.

The IT industry body Nasscom’s reports point to the inadequate technical skills and low employability rate of India’s engineering graduates. The effort money that the $167 billion Indian IT industry has to invest in imparting months of intensive training before fresh engineering graduates can become productive on basic software jobs brings out the deficiency of our higher education system in creating job ready engineers.

Management education portal MBAuniverse.com‘s report on the industry-readiness of MBA graduates from over 2,000 Indian management schools of some significance, barring the top 200 business schools, points to dismal employment prospects for over 300,000 young men and women who annually join the employment market.

Conversations of academics at the assessment and job placement platform HireMee with recruiting managers too point to the woefully inadequate training of Indian graduates spread across different streams — ranging from engineering and commerce, to management and the social sciences — to even communicate clearly their core technical skills, leave alone career aspirations, or interest areas.

It’s a pity that India’s demographic dividend is being put through an education system that is divorced from its very objective of firing up creativity, building problem-solving skills, preparing them to work in a highly inter-connected, interdependent global work environment.

That we do have a few Islands of excellence — some of the best engineering, management schools in the world — whose alumni have earned a name for themselves, their institutions and India, is equally well known. The success of IITs, IIMs, AIIMS and IISc, can be attributed to the exceptional intake quality as a result of stringent selection criteria and liberal government funding.

What can India do to remedy the situation for a vast majority of institutions that are forced to follow the “garbage-in garbage-out” model? These institutions depend on pedagogy that has completely outlived its utility. Divorced from the world of work these, institutions have “very limited” to practically “no industry interface”.

India’s over-regulated higher education system perpetuates outdated curriculum, stifles innovation. Even serious education institutions are faced with regulations in some states that cap tuition fee that a student pays for professional programmes.

There is limited industry focus and virtually no research and new knowledge creation. This seriously limits the opportunities for lakhs of students to enroll and study in a school or subject of their choice, forcing those with finances to look for opportunities to study abroad.

What can we do to improve the quality of millions of graduates coming out of India’s education system? How can India convert millions of “degree flaunting” millennials into employable young men and women?

To begin with, education policymakers and academics must articulate what employability is and what it is not. Employability means not just the ability to get a job, but equipping young men and women with the skills, the knowledge and tools to succeed in their careers.

The employability at India’s institutions of higher education can improve dramatically once they modernise their outdated curriculum, teachers shift from unloading their knowledge in classroom to a discussion and problem-solving approach. Faculty asking pointed questions and students coming up with solutions.

I had an opportunity to debate this issue with careers and employment manager at the Sydney based University of New South Wales. My conversation with Blair Slater, a former Hollywood movie star in Canada, brought out lessons from QS rank 45 UNSW’s experience of preparing nearly 21,000 international students each year for global job opportunities.

Blair, an occasional speaker at Indian schools, says it must begins with how the faculty coach their students to think, and come up with ideas on how to enable students to take charge of their own future.

It is possible and expected of students not to know what they want to do. A ‘Professional Development Module’ for students is needed to let them experience workplace culture, the recruitment process and preparing them for a global career – through formal interactive sessions, says Blair.

When I entered the job market in 1970s as a fresher, getting a job depended on how networked and influential my parents and uncles were. Luckily for those graduating out of college today, there are networking tools like Linkedin that can help them connect with alumni and employers to get jobs. This, of course, comes with caveats: Provided they have sharpened their communication skills and learnt to write effective resumes that help them stand out. Most importantly, they better know that the communication protocol to connect with employers is entirely different from the one they follow on Facebook with their friends.

To put it simply, India needs to shift the very objective of its education system from ‘granting degrees’ to focusing on dramatically “enhancing employability”.

To me this appears to be the key shift in gears from providing employment to equipping them to the most current skills, teaching them how to market them and then to apply them on the job — especially one that she was not trained for, one that did not exist when she graduated and the one that had continuously evolved with no sign of having stabilised.

By Sanjiv Kataria

Image result for sanjiv kataria

(Sanjiv Kataria, who served NIIT as a brand custodian for two decades, is a communications counsel. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected] )

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Analysis

Fake Operations – Column: Spy’s Eye

Published

on

FBI

A national Intelligence organisation — like that of India — earns the respect of the countrymen because it helps the State in discharging its sovereign function of safeguarding national security, stays completely non-partisan and establishes a method of working that is secretive but never crooked. Since security, by definition, is protection against a scheming adversary resorting to a ‘covert’ attack, the counter-intelligence effort relies on tradecraft techniques perfected with professional training – like surveillance, infiltration into the enemy’s camp, communication monitoring, raising human sources and carrying out an interview under ‘cover’. The adversarial entity has to be identified and then targeted keeping in view the aim that security by definition is preventive – if there is therefore the danger of an enemy infiltrating its vanguard into the country clandestinely, these ideally have to be picked up right at the point of entry.

For this a lot of effort is made round the clock by operational teams to garner intelligence about the identity and location of ‘enemy’ agents. Intelligence operators could try to ‘turn in’ a member of the adversary’s set up or ‘plant’ a person of their own trust there. The results are never easy to get but the intelligence agency is prepared to ceaselessly slog for getting access to the plans and activities of a ‘real’ enemy. A professional and upright intelligence organisation goes for the hard targets and does not fall for the temptation of somehow creating an illusion of success for credit in the eyes of the political masters — by manufacturing a narrative of threat without establishing the presence of an ‘enemy’.

If this is done by fabricating a ‘trap’ by way of creating a fake university for getting unsuspecting individuals — who could not, by any stretch of imagination, be described as ‘enemy agents’ — to land in the country for joining that educational institution and then hauling them up as unlawful people precisely on the ground of being in a fake institution, this is a rogue operation and not an intelligence effort. The criminality here would be on the shoulders of the phoney entity and its creators alone and not on the victims of the ‘fraud’ committed by the former.

Imagine the shock that the people across the democratic world would feel over the recent media reports to the effect that the Homeland Security agents in the US apparently in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — both are a part of the US Task Force against Terrorism — have rounded up hundreds of Indian students precisely in this way and tried to claim it as a great operation designed to detect infiltration into US. India has sent a demarche to the US Embassy in Delhi questioning this action and the Indian Embassy in Washington has intervened to help the imperilled students but this raises serious questions about the spurious operations and unethical ways of some lead agencies engaged in counter-intelligence work.

The Trump regime had no doubt taken a serious view of illegal migrations and fraudulent entry of outsiders into the US from countries which traditionally posed a threat to the American security. But are the American intelligence agencies totally oblivious of the complete convergence that India and US had achieved on security matters or are they so desperate about creating an impression of being pro-active after their Chiefs had run into problems with President Trump that they wanted to secure ‘results’ through such dubious means?

The ‘University of Farmington’ based in Michigan was reportedly created two years ago by undercover agents of Homeland Security and its head — one Ali Milani — wrote letters to the prospective students imploring them to come to his university, getting in this questionable manner more than a hundred Indian students on its rolls during this period with the help of a gang of recruiters. The Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is now treating these students as a prize catch to prove its great work against ‘illegal’ immigration. It should have targeted the fraudulent intermediaries, something it did not do precisely because it had connived with them for ‘operational’ reasons.

The blind pursuit of Indian students is incongruous with the facts of the case. First, does the Homeland Security consider India as an adversary that would pump in its ‘agents’ into the US to indulge in unlawful missions there like some hostile neighbours and countries breeding Islamic radicals would possibly do? Secondly, considering the known keenness among Indian students to study in American universities with the legitimate objective of receiving higher education and jobs, the entrants would have responded to the ‘invite’ from this fake university with enthusiasm and come in only on legal travel documents.

In case a fake university was created by a fraudulent group outside of the government, it would have been the responsibility of the FBI to unearth that activity before any entrants were trapped but in this case a US government agency itself was the creator of an illegal entity, spending a whole lot of time, energy and funds to set it up just to be able to show that they had caught some Indian students on the wrong foot. Even if some students might have suspected the credentials of the university they would rightly expect the US government to deal with any irregularities about the institution they had joined in. But in this case, US undercover agents themselves were behind a university that fronted a trap operation. This is neither a good intelligence effort nor a worthwhile national security mission.

In any case, India should strongly object to this offending move of US agencies and treat it as an affront to its national standing. Is it possible that this is a deliberate act of Ali Milani to put India at par with those nations that had received adverse attention of President Trump and thus spoil Indo-US relations? The US policy makers should be interested in closely auditing the output of the country’s agencies entrusted with counter-intelligence work. The FBI should be concentrating on spurious institutions run by unlawful elements on its soil. Becoming a party to an operation meant to entice students to a fake university established by agents of the government themselves does not add up to a legitimate intelligence work in this case.

The FBI and other intelligence agencies, it is presumed, would be focusing on detection of sleeper cells of terrorists in the US that were posing a greater threat than before because of the unsuccessful ‘war on terror’. The danger had further increased with the known use of social media by the adversary for spreading radicalisation. The Commission on 9/11 had brought out many failings of US intelligence particularly, the inadequacy of follow up on signals that had indicated presence of radical aliens on American soil. American agencies can hardly afford not to devote all their time and resources to the serious threats to the security of US from terrorists and clandestine infiltrators. Violations of immigration laws and procedures can be detected — without resort to devious trap operations — through a professionally competent intelligence-based endeavour.

(The writer is a former Director Intelligence Bureau)

Continue Reading

Analysis

15 lakh salaried employees with PF a/c’s stuck with toxic IL&FS bonds

Published

on

EPFO

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) A new threat looms large for the government in an election year. A spanking new but restive community of salaried employees is concerned about its money deposited with the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

At the cutting edge of the ever burgeoning IL&FS crisis, these employees are exposed to toxic investments. Most of these Employee Provident Funds and Employee Pension Funds have stated that the IL&FS resolution plan must provide repayment before secured creditors as the resolution framework proposed by the company doesn’t provide for any payment to secured creditors.

A sense of panic has crept in. They have collectively invested thousands of crores of rupees in IL&FS bonds. Many say that the resolution framework must balance interest of all stakeholders. Others have also challenged Sec 53 of the payment schedule distribution process as it doesn’t address public and social interest. Since these are tradeable instruments, the exact quantum is not known, but investment bankers estimate it to be in thousands of crores since the infrastructure company’s bonds – which were ‘AAA’ rated – were preferred by retirement funds that have a low-risk appetite but still have to get assured returns even when interest rates are low.

The growing discontent is across some of the blue chip Indian corporates. Some of these that have filed an intervening petition with the tribunal, thereby impleading themselves in this gargantuan case on how to run a corporate into the ground, include Apco Infratech, Apco, Titan, Asian Paints PF, Asian Paints Management Cadre Superannuation scheme, Aditya Birla Sun Life MF, Thomas Cook PF, Titan Watches, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), M & M PF, Himami, Bajaj Finance, Hindalco EPF, Max Financial Services PF Trust, IDBI Trusteeship Services Ltd, IndusInd Bank, Hudco Employees CPF, MMTC CPF, 63 Moons, Nayara Energy EPF, Indian Oil Corp, ITPO, CIDCO, SBI PF, GUVNL PF, Ambuja Cement, HDFC AMC, IREDA among others.

The size, scope and magnitude of these companies is self explanatory – HUL, Asian Paints, Hindalco and M & M from the private sector, IOC, SBI and MMTC from the PSU sphere and HDFC AMC and Aditya Birla Sun Life from the mutual fund industry, virtually imperilling India Inc and most importantly dragging the financial savings of lakhs of salaried employees.

The employee provident funds of various companies and other entities had invested in IL&FS bonds and bond holders are unsecured and may or may not get paid in the ongoing crisis at IL&FS. In any case, they are seen pretty much last on the priority list. Over 75 companies and their PFs have filed an intervening petition before the appellate court to seek directions and instructions on repayment to unsecured creditors.

As many as 15 lakh salaried employees across different sectors are caught in this ticking time bomb and the number is only likely to go up as the true extent of the malaise is known and understood. Till September last year, Indian rating agencies, not realising that IL&FS was set to implode, were giving Triple A rating to the bonds. With elections around the corner, this new expose will further polarise debate. After all it is salaried employees who are now staking claim to their hard-earned monies.

In fact, in the intervening petition filed by IndusInd Bank, they have categorically asserted that the top five creditors of IL&FS were not consulted in the resolution plan. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, senior counsel, with Diwakar Maheshwari, Avishkar Singhvi and Shreyas Edupuganti appeared for IndusInd Bank. Similarly, Abhishek Anand and Anant Pavgi appeared for Federal Bank while Vikram Hegde appeared for IREDA and Priya Puri appeared for Indian Oil Corp.

Abhishek Singhvi, Arun Kathpalia, Abhinav Vashisht, Amrendra Saran, Rajiv Datta appeared on behalf of the intevener (financial creditors or operational creditors or other secured creditors). The NCLAT order of February 11 allowed the intervening applications filed by them. Furthermore, other intervenors and parties who intend to file impleadment application were allowed before the next date – which is March 12, 4 p.m.

BOX Section 53 of IBSC

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law enacted by Parliament or any State Legislature for the time being in force, the proceeds from the sale of the liquidation assets shall be distributed in the following order of priority and within such period and in such manner as may be specified, namely:

(a) the insolvency resolution process costs and the liquidation costs paid in full;

(b) the following debts which shall rank equally between and among the following:

(i) workmen’s dues for the period of 24 months preceding the liquidation commencement date; and

(ii) debts owed to a secured creditor in the event such secured creditor has relinquished security in the manner set out in section 52;

(c) wages and any unpaid dues owed to employees other than workmen for the period of 12 months preceding the liquidation commencement date;

(d) financial debts owed to unsecured creditors;

(e) the following dues shall rank equally between and among the following:

(i) any amount due to the Central Government and the State Government including the amount to be received on account of the Consolidated Fund of India and the Consolidated Fund of a State, if any, in respect of the whole or any part of the period of two years preceding the liquidation commencement date;

(ii) debts owed to a secured creditor for any amount unpaid following the enforcement of security interest;

(f) any remaining debts and dues;

(g) preference shareholders, if any; and

(h) equity shareholders or partners, as the case may be.

(2) Any contractual arrangements between recipients under sub-section (1) with equal ranking, if disrupting the order of priority under that sub-section shall be disregarded by the liquidator.

(3) The fees payable to the liquidator shall be deducted proportionately from the proceeds payable to each class of recipients under sub-section (1), and the proceeds to the relevant recipient shall be distributed after such deduction.

Continue Reading

Blog

Indus Water Treaty : Experts split on checking water flow to Pakistan

Hawks say a tough action must include short and long term steps, including the raising of the water storage capacity by building more dams and optimum use of water in the Indian side.

Published

on

indus water treaty

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) Amidst calls for acting tough in the wake of the terror attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama on Thursday, experts bat for “stopping” water to Pakistan from the west and east flowing rivers, like Indus and Beas. However, others doubt possibility of such an action.

Hawks say a tough action must include short and long term steps, including the raising of the water storage capacity by building more dams and optimum use of water in the Indian side.

At present, “more than the surplus” waters of these rivers are flowing into Pakistan, says M.S. Menon, a retired Water Resources Ministry top official, who had handled the Indus Water Treaty for long. He said tightening of the provisions on water release to Pakistan was possible.

“We have to develop capacity for consuming more water. For that, there should be more investment in storage dams to be constructed. There is a lot of water in Jhelum, Chenab and Indus that can be used very much domestically,” he said.

Under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 between India and Pakistan, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers — the Beas, the Ravi and Sutlej with the mean flow of 33 million acre feet (MAF) — was given to India. While control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum with the mean flow of 80 MAF — was given to Pakistan.

More controversial, however, were the provisions on how the waters were to be shared. Since Pakistan receives more water flow from India, the treaty allowed India to use western river waters for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses like navigation, floating of property and fish farming, while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects.

But another retired official, who as the Indus Commissioner in the ministry had handled the subject for nearly two decades, said stopping water to Pakistan was not possible. “I don’t think anything like that is possible. Water flows naturally. You can’t stop it,” he said adding there are international treaty obligations India has to implement.

The former official said this issue has been discussed in the past but people make such demands because of an emotional situation.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular