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There is a misleading perception that a student pursuing his graduation makes him employable by the time he is out of college. Graduates come out of college, polished in academic skills but as they enter into the arena of job hunt they tend to forget that corporate world is a different ball game altogether.

While academic skills definitely count, various other skills such as spoken and written English, interpersonal skills, the art of communication, situational behavior, and so on play a pivotal role in helping the student or candidate fit into the desired job profile. Lack of these skills may hamper the candidate's prospects at the interview stage itself.

So a powerful program to impart these skills while the student is pursuing his MBA is the need of the hour. Most companies want readymade stuff before a degree like an MBA, but 80-95 per cent of MBA students are fresh B.A/B.Com/B.Sc graduates.

Enough has been said and written on employability skills or the absence of these skills among the Indian youth. In a survey by NASSCOM, only 10 per cent of fresh graduates in India are employable. Similar surveys on MBA graduates and engineers place employable professionals at not more than 25 per cent. It is great to note that India has one of the world’s largest most qualified pools of technical manpower. However, when we look at the employability, we are far behind.

Unemployability is today a grave issue than unemployment. Today’s youth needs to learn communication skills, business ethics and basic managerial skills to increase his chances of employability. When we talk about ‘Employability’ it refers to a person's personal capability of gaining initial employment, maintaining employment, and obtaining new employment if required.

In simple terms, employability is confluence of several skills, abilities, knowledge, competencies and capabilities that enable individuals to get employment and be successful in their professional careers.

And when we talk about employability skills it is a set of achievements, understandings and personal attributes that make individuals more likely to gain employment and to be successful in their chosen occupations. These skills can be referred to as transferable skills (because skills developed in one area of your life can be transferred to other areas) or personal skills. In the context of your career planning and development, they are called career management skills. Thus, employability-skills are as important as academic-skills for college.

Currently there is wide chasm between what the educational institutions are churning out and what the industry expects. All businesses cry for employability skills as these enable growth and competitiveness. These skills are essential for all employers cutting across all industries.

Industry is badly in need for a different mix of skills, abilities, capabilities and competencies in potential hires depending on the business it’s in. It also looks for multi-skilled individuals.

In this context, let us look the missing requirements which limit a fresher’s chances of landing a job or the skills that employers expect from graduates: 

  • Attitude: which involves sincerity, ownership and motivation
  • Business Ethics/Honesty
  • Grooming/Confidence: showcases your self-presentation on applications and at interviews
  • Communication Skills: involves written communication that is, able to express yourself clearly in writing and verbal communication that expresses your ideas clearly and confidently in speech
  • General Awareness: shows that you are not restricted to your domain only and are curious about your surroundings.
  • Basic Managerial Skills: like leadership, teamwork, time Management etc. which involves your  ability to convince others, to discuss and reach agreement, working confidently within a group and able to motivate and direct others
  • Basic Sales and Customer Service: (most entry level jobs require one of these)
  • Domain Knowledge:  in-depth information and abilities relating to a particular job
  • Work Experience: without this you are a bird without wings or will be considered invalid

Apart from this other factors that help to make people employable include:

  • The ability to identify suitable job opportunities; external factors such as the job market and personal circumstances.
  • Flexibility in adapting successfully to changing situations and environments
  • Planning and organising activities and carry them through effectively.
  • Investigating, analyzing and problem solving like gathering information systematically to establish facts and principles.
  • Numeracy to carry out arithmetic operations/understand data.
  • Computing skills
  • Developing professionalism

The question now arises is whether these employability skills can be taught or is it coachable? Attitude and ethics are the most difficult to correct. It has been found that attitude can be improved through a six-nine month process involving motivation, extended practice and constant feedback. Grooming and confidence for personality development are the easiest to correct. Steady practice in small batches of 15-25 students, with people of similar ability carefully chosen and teamed up for four-five months can bring about tremendous improvement.

The situation is grave, but it can be addressed through a solution that empowers the youth. A curriculum that covers written and spoken English, business communication, resume writing and interview skills, pronunciation, etiquette, leadership skills and more, should be introduced  making it a comprehensive training on employable skills.

And this skill development must start early even while the student is pursuing his graduation. This can be corrected by offering industry projects during the course (internship, externships etc). The long-term solution may be for colleges to recruit experienced students, especially for a post graduate course like MBA.

To conclude, both educational institutions and industry should work together for enhancing employability skills as it is rightly said that you need to clap with both hands to get the results of sustainable transformation. Mere academic abilities alone won’t suffice. By improving one skill, you may also improve in a number of others.

APJ Abdul Kalam, Former President of India said, "It is not unemployment that is the major problem; it is the question of unemployability that is the major crisis in this competitive arena…"

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