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Education Plus

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Making students industry-ready

SERENA JOSEPHINE

Soft skill development can ensure a ready workforce.

Photo: K.Pichumani

PERSONALITY MATTERS: Soft skills is no longer a mere value-add, but an essential pre-requisite for getting employment.

In a highly competitive world, being academically sound might just not be sufficient for graduates. Accomplishing a number of pre-requisites starting with communication, aptitude and presentation skills will go a long way in making the graduates employable and industry-ready, say experts.

Of late, the need for turning out employable graduates is being increasingly felt across higher education institutions. Keeping in mind the requirements of the industries, several institutions have started imparting training to their students in developing employable skills.

“Only 25 per cent of students are employable and the rest are not, from the industry point of view. The component of employable skills is severely lacking in many students. They might have technical skills but these sub-skills are not up to the threshold. So, companies do not come forward to absorb such students,” says V. Prithiviraj, principal of Pondicherry Engineering College (PEC).

Proficiency in soft skills is definitely a pre-requisite for graduates and it improves their chance of being selected for employment, he notes. PEC has included general proficiency in the curriculum ranging from the third to sixth semester, dealing with all aspects of communication skills with emphasis on practical skills.

Placement Coordinator of Pondicherry University S.K.V. Jayakumar says aptitude, problem solving skills, logical ability, experience in facing challenges, communication and self-presentation skills are the key requisites.

“Many students lose opportunities owing to poor communication skills and lack of knowledge about current affairs. Ninety per cent of companies ask very few technical questions in the written test. Students need general aptitude skills, mathematical problem- solving ability to crack the written test,” he adds.

In fact, fear to communicate during group discussions is a huge hurdle for many, Mr. Jayakumar adds. “Educational institutes should train students in developing self-confidence, team building, facing interviews, group discussions and communication skills,” he insists. The university has entered into a pact with a number of companies to train the students.

Meenakshi Kumar, convenor, Education Panel of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Puducherry, says career guidance programmes mostly focus on courses. “Students do not look inwardly — at their capabilities, passions and shortcomings,” he states.

He defines employable skills as having three parts — domain skills, alignment skills and soft skills. “While domain is the basic knowledge of a trade studied, soft skills comprise leadership, team building, conflict management, communication and presentation. These will make students industry-ready,” he remarks.

CII had conducted a Modular Employable Skills assessment for vocational stream students of Class XII last year. It has been taking initiatives to improve the employability quotient of students in ITIs and polytechnics. “Students should be sent to industries through tie-ups for the actual training,” he emphasises.

Steps to enhance the employability of students should be taken up within the curriculum period, he says, adding, “No gap analysis is done by industries and institutes together to understand the requirements of the industries and what the institutes need to do. Finishing schools will help in training the students in the required skills.”

Kanchi Mamunivar Centre for Post Graduate Studies has been offering IGNOU courses in English in education, joining the workforce and English in daily life for students. They plan to start diploma courses in personality development and communication skills.

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