The shortage of appropriately skilled professionals across many industries is emerging as a significant and complex challenge to India's growth and future. According to NASSCOM, each year over 3 million graduates and post-graduates are added to the Indian workforce. However, of these only 25 percent of technical graduates and 10-15 percent of other graduates are considered employable by the rapidly growing Manufacturing / Infrastructure development /IT and ITES segments. Hence, we can clearly witness the growing skills gap, reflecting the fragile availability of high-quality college education in India and the soaring pace of the country's service-driven economy, which is growing faster than most countries in the world. As businesses propose to double and triple their workforces and India Inc. strives to maintain its position in the global marketplace, it has become imperative to prepare and plan for a world-class, competent, talented, and innovative workforce.
It is widely established that knowledge, skills, and resourcefulness of people are critical to sustain development, and for maintaining economic and social progress in a knowledge society. Given the current high-paced growth and dynamic investment climate in India, the demand for knowledge workers with high levels of technical and soft skills will continuously increase. With massive expansion taking place across various sectors: banking and financial services (BFSI), retail, manufacturing, pharma, SMBs, outsourcing / offshoring companies, service providers, etc, there already exists a significant demand for Design Professionals in Mechanical/Civil/GIS (CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM/BIM), Animation, and IT professions. It is also estimated that India would require a workforce of 4.8 million in the manufacturing/services sector by 2017. However, over the past fifteen years, India has produced only 2.8 million professionals and faces the uphill task of producing another 2 million in the next two years.
In this demand-supply gap scenario, a glance at the Indian education system will reveal that the number of technical institutions in India, including engineering colleges, has actually more than doubled in the last decade. This has been confirmed in the report by All India Council of Technical Education. A fraction of the skills gap problem is due to the fact that only a small percentage of India's young population pursues higher education. Not more than 7 percent of Indians aged 18-25 go to college, according to official statistics. With nearly 40 percent of people over the age of 15 being illiterate, providing even a fundamental level of education is proving quite difficult. Ironically, it is becoming even more difficult to create a robust and continuous pipeline of talent. The efficient university systems of some foreign countries can easily keep up with such demand, however India is still in dilemma. The best and most selective universities of India are able to generate only few industry-ready graduates, and new money-minded private colleges are producing less talented pool of graduates.
Further, universities and educational institutions have been unable to update their syllabi in tune with the rapid changes taking place in the world of technology. Hence, the students churned out are not equipped to meet the current industry requirements and often companies have to incur additional expenses, both in terms of time and funds, to train new hires. Besides the technology aspect, industries also evaluate competencies of the candidates on various other major aspects, ranging from soft skills, team building to overall attitude and values.
In response to these challenges, many companies today have intensified their academic interventions in order to tackle the impeding shortage of knowledge workers. A recent study revealed that there will be a shortage of 237,200 industry ready professionals alone by the end of 2015. It is further estimated that this gap is growing at a compounded annual growth of 39 percent. With manufacturing/infrastructure services forming the backbone of industry needs, this gap could arrest the growing market and threaten India's economic growth plans.
One of the most appropriate approaches to tackle the problem of lack of skilled graduates who are ready for working in industry is by creating partnerships between the industry and academia. Keeping this perspective in view, many renowned companies are now partnering with engineering colleges and universities. Infosys has launched a program called 'Campus Connect' to align the education being given at various engineering colleges, with the requirements of the industry. Wipro has also started a program called the ‘Wipro Academy of Software Excellence’, in association with BITS (Pilani) to prepare fresh graduates for careers in software programming and provide them the necessary skills required in industry. Many multinationals have also established alliances with academic institutions on specific initiatives covering faculty upgradation, internships, curriculum revision workshops, research incubation, etc., to create architects of the new global economy. Recently a news article mentioned Tech Mahindra (a joint venture of Mahindra group and British Telecom), has found a unique way to address the manpower shortage and wage inflation problem - by getting into the education business itself. The company has decided to set up an engineering college, Mahindra College of Engineering that will equip engineers with the skills required in this 'fast changing global scenario'.
Tickoo Institute of Emerging Technologies (TIET), a training and consulting division of CADCIM Technologies, USA was also established by Prof. Sham Tickoo to equip students to meet these growing challenges of the global economy. The curriculum of various courses has been set by the trained and experienced TIET faculty who have hands-on experience of teaching students on various designing packages (Mechanical/Civil/Architecture/Animation) using latest (CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM/BIM/ANIMATION) software developed by industry giants. TIET also offers short term courses in AutoCAD/ SOLIDWORKS/CATIA/ANSYS/ SolidCAM/Revit Structure/Revit Architecture/ BIM/Primavera/ 3Ds MAX/PHOTOSHOP etc. Furthermore, TIET has recently launched One Year Full time Post Graduate courses in Mechanical and Civil Design off campus and at campus through TIET Partnership program. These programs aim at training the Engineering students with state-of-art design techniques using latest software. The training will be conducted by professionals who are working in industry so that the students become employable and ready for working in the industry even before they graduate.
TIET’s Training Partner Program has been launched pan India and it aims at partnering with 250 training centers by 2020. Under this program, training will be imparted to 1000 students every year in Mechanical/Civil/GIS/Animation streams. In addition to providing the students the required design skills, TIET also aims to bridge the 'digital divide' by providing technical education to rural India - including technologically backward states like Kashmir, Orissa and Tripura. TIET is also planning to tie up exclusively with various women institutions in India to encourage girls to become Design professionals, which has always been considered as a male bastion. TIET is also updating its Mechanical /Civil/GIS curricula to accommodate a broader spectrum of student skill levels and help increase enrollment rates. TIET has also launched its Entry Level Certification (Autodesk Certified Draughtsman) course to equip students from technical schools viz, Polytechnics and ITI's as per growing industry needs. TIET team has also initiated the process of translating the curricula of some courses so as to meet the growing demand in India for courses in regional languages. In this pursuance, the TIET faculty will come with a textbook in Hindi on AutoCAD by early next year.
It is high time for all of us to revamp the India education system. Joint initiatives by the industry and academia can play an important role in bridging the talent gap in the years to come. Training students for the industry specific jobs and allowing them to visualize future prospects, will not only make a difference in their lives but will enrich our communities now and for the future.
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