I had written a white paper back in 2010 discussing the “chasm” between what industry needs and what academia produces in India, especially considering the Software/IT industry. Seven years on, the chasm has become wider, if any. According to NASSCOM, the employability figure has come down from 30% to less than 20%. Some independent studies claim a number as low as 2%. I believe the truth lies somewhere in-between.
The solutions to address the employability gap have largely remained same over the last 7 years, namely corporate training and finishing schools. Both approaches do not address the root cause of the employability. They try to close the gap after graduation. This essentially results in loss of one year of productivity. Almost all the large corporates in India write-off the first year of freshers as a cost in their P&L. Considering an average salary of Rs 3.25 lakhs per year for at least 2 lakh people, we are talking about a direct cost of Rs 6,500 crore (~US$ 1B). The opportunity cost is at least 6 to 7 times higher. It’s a huge national loss.
The times have changed for the industry. The growth is stunted, profitability dwindling and business more unpredictable. Top it up with ever changing technology landscape! This essentially means industry’s appetite to hire and train the freshers has gone down. Companies are looking for graduates can be productive on day 1. Some have decided not to hire freshers. This could lead to a catch-22 situation because if the larger organizations do not hire freshers, the freshers can never get the required experience! The situation is grave and it needs distinctive steps, both by the industry as well as academia.
At the highest level, we need steps to achieve certain levels of competence in 4 years, instead of current 5 years. This essentially calls for transformation of the education system. This also calls for deeper involvement of the industry in academia, right from the beginning of the graduation courses and not towards the end. This also calls for specialists, be it people or organizations, who understand both industry and academia & make “bridging the chasm” their full time concern and passion.
Author: Uday Bhaskarwar, Chief Mentor at GradMener Academy