Skill Gap – Indian Student Outlook

While there is sufficient truth in the corporate claim that there is a gap between skill acquired in college and skill expected in industry, and neither students have the right attitude and discipline towards work, we need to have an alternate outlook at skill gap form the heart of the college graduates – Are the aspirations of the college graduates met by offering of the corporate jobs and is there a gap here also?

The Delhi airport was built by Chinese labor. The Chennai business offices are built by Bihar labor. See this trend. The workers from Bihar and Chattisgarh migrate to work in Tamil nadu and Kerala, while the workers from TamilNadu or Kerala migrate to Singapore or Middle East. If you look at these workers, they had access to poor education and have no formal training to get jobs in their location. For most of them, employment and more money on hand is more important from their current economic status than social aspects. They lack vocational training for sure.

when the worker needs to skill himself, starting question is “Who will pay for training?”  The industry sponsors the training cost of the workers who would remain in its employment for some time period after receiving training. They fear attrition of trained workers and want to lock the certifications for 6 to 12 months.

The worker is asked to pay for their own training. workers unable to pay the fees upfront need financial assistance from banks or NBFCs. The banks prefer the payback system to allow collections from post-placement earnings of individuals, directly deducted from their wages.  The industry want to pay wages of the worker to bank savings account in name of smooth and timely payments to the financier.  There is no promise from the industry for a premium wage for trained manpower compared to untrained manpower. How will the worker spend for training?

In addition, workers migrate from rural to urban areas starts with a positive note of higher salary. Soon in few months, the candidate realizes that the saving potential is considerably reduced in urban areas. They are also forced to learn to live with a new culture, travel long hours and miss the comfort of their homes. They start to feel that the wage is not premium in the city and that makes them to migrate back or migrate to greener pastures.

The need of skilled man-power in location different from where the untrained manpower is available forces the untrained manpower to migrate long distances to gain skills.  Here too, they are not sure of premium wage after skilling and not of the job opportunities. This makes workers to migrate to jobs/areas where jobs offering premium wage are available or closer to home to have less expenses and more familiarity.  Can enterprises in industry sector jointly invest in the micro-training centers in areas where untrained manpower is available?

Becoming a skilled worker, they discover that they work for larger companies, not in the large company employee roll and are in the rolls of contractors or man-power agencies or staffing agencies.  Today Indian companies have 10% to 15% of the work force in their rolls and the remaining 85% in contract rolls. The worker feels disappointed of skill development that does not provide jobs that command social respect.

The corporates thrust responsibility to train on the man-power agencies and the agencies are hesitant to provide workers the sufficient training due to the fear of attrition of trained workers.  A contractors who needs less number of higher order workers and have no plans to double the salary of trained workers would give less emphasis on training.  So the untrained workers continue to be not qualified and production quality suffers impacting business and trained workers migrates towards better opportunity and better wages. What is responsibility of the corporate and agencies to train contract labor or out-sourced staff?

What are the employee expectation to provide a high level of productivity?

  1. Need for a respectful working environment.
  2. Employer readiness to invest time for formal training for the employee. Most of them learn on the job.
  3. Employer’s readiness to provide jobs with pay to commensurate the spending on skills by the employee. The wages for skilled workers needs to aspire unskilled labor to get them skilled.
  4. Allow time for all employees to learn new skills and provide help for self-growth.  Employers need to realize that they need to train to get higher productivity, at all level including management level.
  5. Employer readiness to allow their regular, productive staff to perform constant mentoring of the trainees. This can brings down their productivity and employers need to be ready for this down to develop productivity at large.
  6. The trainees are never ‘taught’ the fundamentals, any mistakes that remain uncorrected become permanently etched in their memory. These cannot be unlearned even after

Any India based skill development initiative for the college student need to come with response to below three questions.

  • Does the industry offered a job to the trained candidates?
  • Do job offered trainees really take up the job?
  • Do the trainees joining the job continue after 3 months?

The answer “yes” to the above questions indicate that the aspiration of employed are met by the industry. The answer “No” to the above questions mean that there is a gap between aspirations of the student and what is on offer from the corporate.

The attached report “THE SKILLS THEY WANT: ASPIRATIONS OF STUDENTS IN EMERGING INDIA”  describes aspirations of the Indian student and perception issues around the words “vocational education”.  Some questions were intriguing and added them  here for my reference.

  1. Do students have a specific career in mind? Do students want to follow in their parents’ footsteps?
  2. What are the main driving factors for student’s interest in post-school or beyond college?
  3. How do students feel about vocational education as an option for further education?
  4. What reasons do students have for not wanting to pursue vocational education?
  5. What skills do students aspire to possess?  What sectors in which students displayed interest