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Tackling the 'graduate but unemployable' syndrome in India

Wednesday January 25, 2012 06:53:35 PM, V. S. Karnic, IANS

Bangalore: Low employability, particularly in the IT sector, of thousands of engineering graduates hitting the Indian job market every year is prompting academia and industry leaders to make efforts to end the demand-supply mismatch.

However the interaction between academics and the IT sector is still not on wide scale nor is it regular even though alarm bells have been ringing for a few years now, industry leaders acknowledge.

"Quite many initiatives are there (mostly at one company to many institutes level)," Raghu Bhargava, chairman of the Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCIC), told IANS.

"But sustained initiatives are needed, which facilitate regular interaction and coordination supporting small and medium IT and ITeS (IT enabled services) enterprises as well," he said.

The BCIC plans to set up a task force to "address on a continuing basis" the issue of interface between academia and IT, ITeS industry leaders to restructure the courses to ensure graduates have desired skills needed by this sector, Bhargava, chief executive officer of JSoft solutions, a Bangalore-based IT firm, said.

JSoft is part of the $3.7 billion Jindal group headed by Sajjan Jindal with interests in steel, aluminium, ports and energy.

The task force idea stemmed from an interaction between a group of academics and representatives of IT and ITeS firms in Bangalore the BCIC organized early this month.

Holding the exercise in Bangalore was apt as the Karnataka capital is India's IT hub and home to, as the BCIC noted, about 800,000 workers in the ICT (information, communication and technology) sector.

The city is home to Indian IT majors Infosys and Wipro as well huge offices of international biggies like Accenture, Honeywell, Oracle, IBM and scores of call centres and BPO offices.

The IT activities in the city covers chip designing to operating systems, cloud solution, business solution, to new generation mobile application and embedded software.
The city is also a hot destination for engineering courses.

However all these have not bridged "the glaring gap - that of industry ready talents. Each firm is spending a sizeable amount of money to train the new recruits/freshers out of college so that they can work in real/corporate world. The issue is more visible and acute for smaller firms," the BCIC noted.

Bhargava said with the interaction it arranged, the BCIC "has triggered a debate at a platform level."

He said the BCIC planned the interaction in the backdrop of a 2011 World Bank Survey which also talked of the severe mismatch between the actual requirement of IT-ITeS industry and the skills of graduates passing out from various institutions in India.

Among the suggestions at the interaction were to encourage faculty to go on sabbatical to industry/vice-versa and a revamp of recruitment process.

On the drawbacks in the present recruitment process, Bhargava listed several.

They are: "Short interview cycle, and thereby validation of creative skills takes a back seat compared to scores; offers made too early (one year before the course completion); recruitment in the 7th semester or 6th semester sometimes make the youth dis-engage with the college curriculum once they have a job offer. This
needs to be stopped."

He said "companies vie for each other for day 1 placement; the placement office does not allow students to get multiple offers. As a result some students accept jobs (out of security) which they are not really keen on. A better system of match-making at campuses required.

"The practice of deferred placement is attracting lot of flak. The student
does not know where he stands for months together. Judging placement success by size of offer is what media gives credence too. This is a poor practice as salary is but one indicator," Bhargava said.

(V. S. Karnic can be contacted at




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