Opinion

Increasing unemployment and a talent shortage: The Employability Paradox

Srikrishnan V October 7 | Updated on October 07, 2021

The reason for this paradox is that there is a disconnect between classroom education and real-world skill requirements at workplaces

The need to continually upskill employees is a challenge experienced by every HR and business leader. As per a recent report, in order to meet anticipated demand levels, the number of workers with digital skills in India will need to increase ninefold by 2025.

Additionally, it states that Indian workers will need to develop seven new digital skills by 2025 to keep up with technology advancements and industry demand. Almost every industry in India is seeking to upskill its employees and hire more skilled workers for project deployment.

Organisations need skilled professionals who are easily employable so that they can contribute from the very beginning of their employment.

The employability paradox

It is ironic that, despite the talent shortage across sectors, most young professionals cannot find work. According to the latest India Skills Report (ISR), not even half the Indian graduates are employable as they lack the skills that are in demand today. A mere 45 percent of 2021 graduates were found to be job-ready.

Also read: Coronavirus impact worsens India’s educational divide: UN agency

The reason for this paradox is that there is a disconnect between classroom education and real-world skill requirements at workplaces. In order to solve this persistent challenge, the industry must collaborate with skilling companies.

Learning from global practices

Technologies, skills needed, and the speed at which these skills are implemented into real-life practice are all evolving rapidly. Industry 4.1 recognises this fact. Ideally, freshers should receive academic training tied to industry relevance, such as assignments on live projects, in addition to academic training.

This is also referred to as an apprenticeship program, a way of training that is common in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and some other countries. A few Indian companies have already implemented this practice due to the excess demand for tech talent, but eventually, it will have to become the established way that organisations hire new talent.

Bringing academia and industry closer

Today, edtech players, especially those in the B2B space, are taking an active role in solving this problem. They are creating programs in collaboration with industry leaders to bridge the gap.

Also read: India’s rural work scheme plots green jobs to fight climate change

Train & Hire: In this model, the edtech company is responsible for delivering the content, but the hiring organisation takes care of the context of the industry, the live projects, etc. Learners can thereby start working on live projects with the company as interns right from the beginning of their academic program.

This is a win-win for the employer as well as the job seeker. For the learners, this practice provides an excellent learning experience since it is integrated with industry relevance, which ultimately results in job placement.

Hire & Train: The second way to achieve this is to train newly hired professionals. However, this incurs a cost. This means the company must create relevant learning and development (L&D) programs for them. Designing niche training courses is not usually the core value proposition for most companies, especially since technology is constantly evolving.

While developing content for these training programs is a challenging process, delivering them is quite another. The edtech industry is solving this challenge too by offering customised and curated learning and development programs that meet the specific needs of organisations by providing access to content from prestigious institutes.

Also read:Dip in unemployment in Q4 2020: Survey

Typically, employees prefer programs that are convenient to attend, that are curated in the Indian context, and that is heavily instructor-led. Therefore, it is vital that organisations offer an engaging program that not only addresses all these expectations but also ensures that employees complete the program.

There are a few edtech companies that help enterprises upskill employees, source talent, recruit new talent, implement internal learning programs, or set up internal knowledge academies. And the onus is on organisations to step forward and introduce such L&D and hiring strategies by collaborating with edtechs.

(The author is Vice President, Enterprise Business, Hero Vired)

Published on October 07, 2021

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