I spoke at a Management Conclave on ‘Bridging the Skill Gap’ today and came away realizing that issues such as unskilled workforces and engagement facing corporations isn’t simple.
Leading management thinkers, administrators, directors, deans, faculty from B-schools in the country, placement officers and recruiters participated at the event held at the ITC Windsor, Bangalore. Discussions ranged from the quality of students to the intent of business education in elevating standards.
In the panel discussion called – ‘What Is Missing From Business Education: Meeting the Needs’ I reframed the issue by coining it the ‘mindset’ gap rather than the ‘skill’ gap. My fellow panelists included Anjan Lahiri, President – IT Services of Mindtree, Mr Atish Dasgupta, Professor – Symbiosis &
former HR Head – HCL and Prof T Sivanandam, a quality consultant. My argument is that while skills can be learnt what we need to ‘unlearn’ takes longer to unstick from our minds.
I introduced the audience to a Fedex ad that showed how an MBA shirked responsibility to learn a simple task just because ‘he was an MBA’. I then shared context on the growing need for talent in India and how there is space for everyone. Also, how Indian education ranks globally and how students and institutes need to think differently. However, it needs to begin with the ‘mindsets’ that students carry including ‘expecting someone to figure out their lives’ and ‘chasing the next big trend’, ‘competing for competition sake’ and ‘being risk averse’.
Finally I ended with recommendations that will improve their thinking and what corporations expect of today’s workforce.
Overall, listening to the discussions it is evident that the state of education and the gap between industry and academia is fast widening.
Education seems to have become completely cosmetic. I shudder to think what will happen 10 years from now. There a good chance that the edge we had and have encashed on in the 20th and 21st century, will not hold good in the coming decades. I blame some recent drastic reforms in the eductaion sector, particularly schools as also the transistion from school to college. There’s also a huge gap in the vocational skill space. We do not need so many lacs of unskilled, unqualified graduates. What we do need is people with a good strong base ( schooling) and robust vocational skills programmesso that people really the nuances of the trade they are in. Every one DOES not need to end up at college and college education needs to be made more valuable. This is probably the only country where you meet double and triple MAs… why would anyone want to have a Masters in English, Hindi and History… beats me!