Holistic Education for the New Requirements of the Industry

With the country betting big on manufacturing and the IT industry booming it is time that the government, educational institutes and the industry join hands and move towards building a talented, skilled workforce ready to meet the industry’s demands

With India assuming stronger prominence in the global market and our new government’s plans for furthering the domestic industry, we are currently witnessing quite an optimistic climate. This is quite likely to positively impact investor outlook, relations with other countries and corporates both in India and world over wanting to expand and/or set up local manufacturing facilities in India.
While we are witnessing this focus on the domestic industry, we cannot forget the importance of a highly skilled and talented workforce trained to meet India Inc’s requirements and the need to fix the existing skill gap challenges and re-establish the link between industry and education. The industry and its requirements are evolving and hence it is crucial that the IT education and training system evolves alongside to prepare a skilled workforce.

I strongly believe that a lot needs to change in the way IT education is delivered today. If we look at the educational system, there are several issues. One of the key gaps is that we are not really looking at creating well-rounded individuals. Even the top institutes of the country are still working with programs and courses that are not in sync with current let alone future needs. On the other side, newer IITs and many new technical/engineering colleges are adopting newer courses but the gap still needs to be worked on. From an organizational perspective, employers are unable to find qualified candidates to fill their vacancies due to this growing skill gap leading to loss in revenue too. Even today most companies end up training recruits for six to sometimes even eight to nine months which is a huge challenge. This is in spite of a huge number of students passing out every year from the best institutes in the country. What is required is that we become more proactive and focus on teaching skills needed to match the current trends of the industry making the youth far more job ready.

Change for the Good

For this to happen, the current curriculum and teaching methods need to be changed to include newer practical concepts and training. For example, one of the things being worked on at all the IITs is to start research from the first year itself. The unemployable youth we talk about are disconnected from the real world due to the outdated course materials and structures that continue to exist. Though it would be a mammoth task but adding new courses, revisiting existing ones and enhancing technical and skill training is an important step which needs to be taken at the earliest.

What needs to be done is to look at the jobs of tomorrow and the need globally. If we look at the radical changes taking place in IT, like the impact of digitization, we need to create new courses for social, mobile, analytics, and cloud. In addition, as most Indian companies and new start ups start creating products in India, we need to bring in courses for new product development and product management. Also, as the country moves to more design & manufacturing, it is critical to supplement design courses like VLSI design with practical manufacturing management programs.

The Institutes on their part also need to shoulder the responsibility and create a strong collaboration with industry, getting projects from industry that can then help in placements of these youth and more joint research by the industry and student:academia. This will play a crucial role in bringing the youth up to date and be equipped with the key skills needed in the industry. There are many companies who at present have tie-ups with engineering colleges and universities to get the youth to be more job-ready. Many large private players have also initiated similar academic tie-ups with universities to give the students a chance to learn new skills on their latest technologies and products.

Let’s Join Hands

Also, we don’t just need to create manpower for getting jobs. We also need to create new entrepreneurs that can create jobs. Integration of entrepreneurship courses in engineering institutes is absolutely needed as we did in IIT Hyderabad and now IIT Patna.
With the country betting big on manufacturing and the IT industry booming it is time that the government, educational institutes and the industry join hands and move towards building a talented, skilled workforce ready to meet the industry’s demands. The key to this lies in innovation too. We need to think outside the box and develop courses, programs, avenues wherein the students can achieve the necessary skills while they complete their regular courses. While it may take few years in plugging these gaps, it is important that efforts are initiated cohesively so as to build a more secure future for our youth and a robust ecosystem for the industry.

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