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Getting People Job-ready

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A recent report on employability by skills assessment company Aspiring Minds shows less than 20 per cent of India’s 6 lakh engineering graduates are employable in IT services. It gets worse for core jobs in mechanical, electronics/electrical and civil engineering, with barely 7.49 per cent employable.

Companies complain that they have to spend billions of dollars training young talent coming through their doors to make them job-ready.

“The curriculums tend to be out of date, and are not relevant to the industry. But given the rapidity with which skill requirements are changing, it’s hard for education providers to keep pace,” says Himanshu Agarwal, founder and CEO of Aspiring Minds. He says companies too are culpable as they don’t lay down clear employability standards and spread awareness about this.

Dilip Chenoy, CEO and managing director of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), says he has put the ball firmly back in industry’s court. “We have told industry associations to lay down the standards,” he says.

National Occupational Standards, validated by industry, for 10 sectors have been put up on NSDC’s website. Draft standards for several other sectors are ready and are awaiting validation and public comments. Nasscom’s senior vice-president Sangeeta Gupta describes how the association collaborated with NSDC to create standards for 39 roles in the IT sector, ranging from Java engineers to technical writers. “Going forward, we will keep adding new job roles,” she says, pointing out how this will help students become aware of what the required skills are.

 Once the standards are laid down, the next step in the process is assessment and certification of candidates. Chenoy describes how NSDC and bodies like Nasscom are stepping up the pace by tying up with assessment companies such as Aspiring Minds, which has tools like Amcat (to assess IT and ITeS candidates). Such partnerships are helping in scaling up the certification process.

It’s not just the IT sector. The scope and breadth is much larger, and plans are to reach out and assess the large blue collar workforce in the country. “We are working on close to 11 sectors and have assessed 2,00,000 candidates in four months and certified 1,00,000 of them,” says Agarwal.

Among others, agricultural workers, tea plantation workers and biometric operators, who could potentially find jobs in Aadhar projects, are assessed and certified. “There is elaborate tech deployment for assessments. The tests are visual and delivered on a tablet, and can be operated by even those without literacy but basic vocational skills,” explains Agarwal.
A beginning has been made. Now let’s wait for next year’s survey to find out whether these initiatives help improve the employability standards in the country.         
tweeter: @ndcnn

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 22-09-2014)