Shared from the 4/15/2019 The Times Of India - Bangalore eEdition

Addressing the employability challenge

Only 12% students pass the initial recruitment test during placements, writes Yogesh Kumar Bhatt

Various studies have suggested that employability of fresh engineering graduates has dipped significantly. As per a recent study by Manipal ProLearn — NxtGen Whitepaper: Embracing the Disruption — it varies from 41% in premier colleges to 17% in other institutes. The whitepaper revealed that only 12% of students pass the initial recruitment test administered during placements.

While artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data analytics and IoT have been identified as top technology trends impacting business. There is a skill shortage in these areas. Given the above context, companies today look for graduates who have technical aptitude, problem solving mindset, learnability and behavioural skills. They should be strong in fundamental concepts of algorithms, data structures etc. At the same time, they should also learn adapt themselves to working new technology areas. The students should also have an early exposure to real time projects in order to build their technical skills, get exposed to processes and terminologies and also develop a problem-solving mindset. This will help them “connect the dots” and see the big picture. Articulation and communications skills are of prime importance as industry demands intense collaboration with all stakeholders.

The greatest challenge today is that students concentrate only on scores and not on problem solving approach. Students from tier III colleges have lack highly in terms of technical competency, confidence and communication skills. Even students from elite colleges lack knowledge on basic programming constructs. The ecosystem in these colleges exposes students more to knowledge than skills.

Currently the companies are having interventions in final year in terms of online learning, internships, instructor led training etc to bridge the gap between campus and corporate. But the current model has limitations as most of these interventions happen in the final semester. The courses can be integrated with the syllabus so that students don’t feel the burden and get credits for these courses from university too. These trainings can also be started much earlier in their curriculum so that they get more time to learn and be more hands-on.

Academia collaboration with companies and external SME will bring richness to the curriculum.

Universities should bring a major change in pedagogy and curriculum with more focus towards digital learning. Learning should change from physical to digital as it provides limitless opportunity. Prime focus for colleges should be to imbibe in students the culture of “learning to learn digitally”. The mindset of digital learning and being a life long learner has to be extended to the entire faculty members too. This mandates a change in the culture, environment and overall focus in the current education system. The universities should evolve a mechanism to give academic credits for online programmes, so that the students can continue their learning even while in the job. Using power of AI for personalised learning can also be seen as an option to overcome some of these challenges.

(The author is vice-president, IT-Education and Training, Manipal ProLearn)

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