Facts (Set1)
1. About 54 percent of Indian population below 30 years.
2. Almost 44 percent of Indian labour force during 1999-2000 was illiterate.
3. A study by MeritTrac Services noted that “only 23% of the management talent is employable
5. Out of all Indian university graduates only a meager 13 percent are employable

Facts (Set2)
1.Infosys spent a capex of Rs.1600 Crores to set up the training facility at Mysore.
TCS, the largest white-collar recruiter of India spent about $172 Million during the fiscal year 2007 alone in training its employees.
Each of Wipro’s employee spends 5% of his billable time on training every year (It amounted to about Rs.15,000 crore in 2007)
4. Vijay Mallya is planning to start a pilot training school, the Kingfisher Aviation University, spending Rs 200 crore.

The obvious conclusions:
1. The educational institutions of the country are not creating graduates who are readily employable.
2. There is a very wide gap in what the industry demands and what the universities are supplying.

The Million Dollar Question
“What practical steps can be taken to bridge the gap between academia and the industry”

Answer Options
A. Edupreneurship.
Companies running educational institutes.
Corporate style governance of educational institutes.
D. All the above

A. Edupreneurship

The term – Edupreneur is a colloquial word for ‘Educational Entrepreneur’. The term is used in the context of a person who ventures into the entrepreneurial aspects of the educational domain. The sacred pillars of education have always been tabooed to be non-profit and social service ventures. Most of the universities and colleges of our country are built with one or more of the following vision statement.

  • To render social service to the society
  • To impart unbiased information to all
  • Truth is sacred
  • All have equal right to knowledge
  • Knowledge is power

No wonder most of the colleges and universities have turned into bunkers where students and lecturers walk into year-after-year without adding any real value-add to either themselves or the institution. Also, the system of a hundred colleges being affiliated to one university and teaching the same subjects from the same book and handing over the same exams baffle me. Why cannot they build one huge college. If we have 100 college, it’s only logical that there be a variety of subjects (multidisciplinary) and there be 100 schools of thought. If the educational system churns out a thousand students all conforming to the same belief system and trained to do the same work in life, they’d have achieved nothing significant than that of a brick factory. All in all, they’re just another brick in the wall.

The need of the hour is for entrepreneurial approach to this problem. An entrereneur is one who,

  • Identifies the need of the market
  • Locate appropriate resources
  • Identify process/procedure to create appropriate products
  • Sells his products to needy customers
  • Makes profit for himself and other stakeholders

An Edupreneur in a similar way, will

  • Identify the skill set required in the industry
  • Choose (hand-pick) the deserving and worthy students
  • Initiate appropriate courses/programs to impart the skill set and exposure
  • Promotes his students to the right (niche) roles.
  • In the process create value for the student, himself and the institute/programme.

The concept of Edupreneurship, even though relatively new, is fast catching. The first breed of Entrepreneurs have been the the industry representatives who’ve long felt the need for quality workforce that can meet the specialized needs. There are also the visionary academicians who have ventured into this road-less-traveled.

B. Companies running Educational Institutes.

For long, companies around the world have cribbed about the academia not delivering employable graduates. Why don’t they address the issue head on? I know most of the companies, as a part of their social-commitment programmes are helping primary education. Lots of books are distributed and loads of computers (loaded with their patented software) are distributed. Why can’t they start another specialized institute for honing the skills that they have an expertise in ?

What will happen if,

  • Google would start an course on “Search Engine Optimization” ?
  • CNN-IBN start a certification programme on “Journalism” ?
  • Intel offers a course on “Advanced Computing” ?
  • L&T starts an “Institute of Extreme Engineering” ?
  • Infosys starts a “Centre of Excellence in Software Engineering” ?
  • Maruti Udyog Ltd. offer a degree in “Automobile Engineering” ?

My guess is that if Jetking and NIIT’s can do well, these ventures will turn out great. Both financially and functionally. More things that could be achieved by such ventures.

  • A benchmark for specialized roles.
  • Inspire the best of talent to perform beyond the limits.
  • Catalyse the research in their respective domains.
  • Better branding for the comapnies

Moreover such ventures would not even require any accreditation. The best of talent will be automatically attracted even if they don’t conform to any framework. Afterall, it’s most probably going to be a higher education/certification course. After all, thinking out of box is the buzzword.

C. Corporate style governance of Educational Institutes

I look back into my own friends group. Nobody wanted to become Teachers/Lecturers. Then, I look into the students in general, hardly does anyone wants to become a teacher. The most biggest reason could be because of the way the teachers are perceived today. Today, a teacher is most likely regarded to be the one who will “teach” the syllabus. I personally believe that a teacher is one who should inspire and motivate rather than teach. Also, the scope of the topic should not be constrained by any syllabus. I could think of the following time-tested-corporate-techniques to push the lecturers/instructors to perform and produce results.

Performance based incentive :
The model of fixed salary at times creates complacency and worse – lethargy. The teachers should get a salary based on their performance. But what parameters can be used to measure an academician’s performance. I think a teacher is best evaluated by the performance of his students. The following could be the starters,

  • Number of his students who secured ranks.
  • Number of papers presented to journals by his student.
  • Number and quality of research that he & his students are pursuing.

Time frame bound target :
The corporate guys who work in the sales/marketing domain would know best about ‘targets’. the word ‘target’ is as loved by managers as is dreaded by the executives. The magical metrics that one needs to meet to prove one’s competence.

360 degree feedback and feedback based appraisal :
Timely feedback is quintessential to stay focused on the goals. It is always advised to take feedback from the students to improve the quality of instructors. This procedure will also build credibility and responsibility into the aspects of teaching. If a teacher feels morally responsible to get good feedback, he will definitely strive to do better.

My Answer to the Million Dollar Question
D. All the above

Concluding Remarks: “A study by Boston Consulting Group for PHD Chamber has estimated a 46 million-workforce deficit worldwide by 2020 while India would have an estimated surplus manpower of 47 million “. The time has come in India when Skill development has become as critical as healthcare and sanitation.

One Reply to “Bridging the gap”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *