India’s ability to achieve an Economic growth rate of 9% every year has been seriously challenged by the graduates that she produces. India has a higher ratio of young population compared to its Western counterparts. With half the population under the age group of 25 and the million that enter the job market every month, the inability of graduates to be absorbed within the industry poses a threat to the nation’s Economic progress.
24/7 Customer Pvt Ltd. is a call center that needs to hire 3000 candidates but is having a tough time doing so from the pool of 1.2 billion graduates that India has to offer. The situation is sorry as the company is able to hire only 3 out of every 100 applicants that apply. The lack of communication skills in English and poor reading & comprehension are some of the strong reasons that have caused this scenario. Satya Sai Sylada, 24/7 Customer's head of hiring for India says, “The average graduate's ability to comprehend and converse is very low. That's the biggest challenge we face."
Although India has a reputation of producing a large number of graduates every year and even threatening the capabilities of their western counterparts in terms of mathematical skills, 24/7 Customer Private Ltd. has a different tale to tell. Due to lack of competent graduates who were fit to be hired the company has had to look in Philippines and Nicaragua. Out of its 8000 employees, majority are from out of India. This is a rather ironic situation where a firm from the land of the outsourced, has been forced to outsource its own labour.
India’s failure to improvise its extensively governed educational system has been considered as responsible for this situation. India’s upsurge in the global Economy was supposed to provide ground for a lot of people to rise beyond their means and attain a higher standard of living through achievement of good education. However, such is not the case.
Executives from the industry examine several reasons that explain the poor quality of graduates that our education produces. These include dogmatic bureaucracy, lack of focus on critical thinking, outdated syllabus and a very small budget for teacher salaries allocated by the government. Vijay Thadani, chief executive of New Delhi-based NIIT Ltd. India, a firm that conducts classes for students to be more job market friendly strongly believes that, "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys,".
As per a study conducted by a trade group called - National Association of Software and Services Companies, the 1.5 billion graduates that India currently produces is four times the 390,000 that passed out in 2000. 75% of the technical graduates and 85% of general graduates have been deemed as non hire-able by the high quality industries such as IT and the call centers.
In another survey conducted by an NGO called Pratham in 13,000 schools in rural India, it was found that about half of the fifth graders were unable to read 2nd standard English.
Cheating, last minute preparations and bribes offered to examiners aids students in sailing through their exams. 26 year old Deepak Sharma left his mobile number on his answer sheet and was later called by the examiner who offered passing him and his friends at the price of INR 10,000.
Saurabh Govil, senior vice president in human resources at Wipro Technologies stated that they found it very difficult to hire well skilled individuals. According to him the overall approach and orientation towards education needs change. In order to bridge the gap between the industry requirement and the nature of engineering graduates required for technical jobs, Wipro runs a 90 day training programme and has the facilities to train 5000 employees at a single go. In addition to that, Wipro also invests a sum of $4 million annually to train teachers. These teachers are encouraged to engage students through audio visual and revise traditional teaching methods.
Tata Consulting Services also invests time and energy into training their newly recruited graduates over a period of 72 days. They have an infrastructure in south India where 10,000 employees can be trained at one time. In addition, they have also started recruiting graduates from the social sciences and arts who seeking secure jobs.
Lecturers such as Vishal Nitnaware from SVPM College of Engineering in rural Maharashtra said that as opposed to the methods he used earlier, he now tries his best to make his classes engaging for his students such that they feel more encouraged to participate.
The current situation calls for remodeling the education system. Even government officials and prominent business heads acknowledge the same. A bill providing more leeway for schools to design their own curriculum is supposed to be passed this week and will be incorporated in the parliament later in the year.