The Inaccessible HR Manager

At a
recent discussion of Training & Placement Officers (or TPOs as they are more
commonly known) of government as well as private IT engineering colleges, I
discovered that a big gap still exists between them and the recruiters from the
IT industry.

A big point of
discontent seems to be the issue of imparting soft skills to aspiring students.
Increasingly, the recruiters representing software and hardware companies insist
that besides the technical knowledge that they will like to measure the students
on, they would also like to check out the students’ soft skills like attitude,
problem solving capabilities, inter-personal skills, level of motivation, and so
on. The recruiters are beginning to lay more stress on these aspects. The TPOs
argue that they do not have bandwidth or time for imparting these. And these
should be taken care of by the companies at the time of their training and
orientation. While I agree that the focus of technical colleges should be
imparting high quality technical education, they must see the need of the time
and start building up some sort of a structured process to sensitize students on
this front too.

Another demand from the
recruiters is for ensuring that the student’s basics of science are updated
and refreshed. While the recruiters complain that these students often falter
with fundamental questions like ‘What is Charles Law?’ or ‘What is the
measure of force?’ the TPOs say that these were taught to them when they were
in Class X, how will they remember them correctly several years later. The TPOs
say that the schools should be held responsible for this. Without getting into
an argument, my submission is that irrespective of the need coming from the
recruiters, the engineering colleges must put in place some system to ensure
that their students’ basics of science are refreshed when they begin their
journey towards becoming engineers.

One feedback about the
recruiters, which seems to come from across a wide section of TPOs, is
that the HR managers are extremely inaccessible.

Giving sermons only to
the TPOs will be unfair and will most probably not solve the problems. The HR
managers are also to be blamed. For instance, one feedback about the recruiters,
which seems to come from across a wide section of TPOs is that HR managers are
extremely inaccessible. ‘How many times have I tried to call up the HR manager
to meet him, but the man is too busy’ says one TPO of a fairly well known
engineering college. ‘Finally, I was asked to meet a very junior HR executive,
and my objective of exchanging ideas with senior level decision makers there was
not achieved’, said this TPO.  This
problem is much acute for the smaller and lesser known colleges.

The more or less
complete lack of support and co-operation from the industry to the academic
world does not end here. One big opportunity for exposing students to industry
environment including soft skills is internship and summer training. The common
complaint from every TPO was that companies are very un-yielding when it comes
to offering internships. If we are telling the TPOs to build structures and
processes to impart soft skills and science basics, it will not be unfair to ask
the companies to give some more resource for internships. Ultimately, the
industry is going to be the final beneficiary. 

The recruiters and the
HR managers completely forget to give back any kind of feedback on the students
they recruit. I feel this is a major flaw, because unless HR managers give
feedback to colleges how do they expect colleges to take corrective action at
their end?

Clearly there are steps to be taken at both the ends. The
TPOs should realize that unless they are flexible and a little industry
oriented, their students will have a tough time getting jobs. And the HR
managers and their recruitment team members must understand that unless they
give full support to the colleges, they will continue to hire students with

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