by Abhishek Ajmera
Every year, millions of students graduate and enter the job market. There is a constant demand for skilled human resources across the industry. There is very tough competition among prospective employees in their endeavour to be hired by the best companies. With the job market being a little sluggish, firms are demanding eligible and employable candidates.
A degree is not enough to fetch a job. One needs more than mere good grades and academic excellence to impress employers today, and get the desired job role. Soft skills are among the key skills in today’s job market. The set of non-cognitive skills that together make up soft skills consisting of attributes like competence, attitude, behavioural traits, emotional intelligence, and any other personality traits, enables one to effectively navigate their work well with others to perform well and meet the goals. However, soft skills cannot be defined within a fixed framework. The skill varies between sectors and between genders and are influenced by various other factors marked by divergent goals.. Hard skills are easier to acquire unlike soft skills as these are habits that need to be changed. Habits are inculcated by one over a period of time and as one gets older, it is harder to change these habits.
Traditionally, the Indian education system emphasizes academic performance and intellectual skills. Technical education has always been a top priority when it comes to training students. While one’s technical skills and expertise are important also important are, soft skills, since it has no hard and fast rule to be followed, it is much harder to learn. These skills help an employee contribute greatly to an organization’s productivity. Hence, employers look for these skills while hiring a candidate.
Since soft skills are more about the personality traits and cannot be taught or trained to an individual overnight, they need to be incorporated in the academic courses as a curriculum from a very early age. To enhance and shape the students’ personality as per the market requirements, universities and institutes have to take the initiative to make skill development an integral part of the curriculum. Some of the traits the students are expected to develop out of these skill development programs are as given below.
- Communication skills
- Listening skills
- Taking constructive criticism
- Motivation and Positivity
Institutes must focus on enhancing these qualities among students to make them employable and job ready. Since these set of skills can never be achieved overnight, there’s a constant need for assessments and upgrades that would enable better learning and development among the students. Such courses allow a student to understand what professional qualities they lack and allow for personality development. For the institution, it creates a talent pool and helps the institute achieve a reputation of producing employable graduates who are scarce in the market currently. The advantage corporate have from these skill development programs are that their job of hunting for suitable candidate for their organization gets much easier as they are already aware of the available talent that matches their job profile.
Incorporating skill development programs in the education system will definitely help students to be job-ready for entry-level jobs. It becomes easier to mould students at a younger age since they are more open to learning. At an older age, it becomes much more difficult as they have learnt and adjusted to a certain routine. Hence, orientation programs and industry trainings don’t prove effective always which ends up draining all the money from the employer’s pocket.
Rather than corporate spending huge amounts of money on ensuring their employees have the right attitude and social skills, universities and institutes must work towards enhancing their students’ employability quotient by shaping these skills and eventually ensuring that at least 80-90% of the graduates they produce every year are employable.
Abhishek Ajmera is the Head of Certifications at MeritTrac Services, a Bengaluru-based talent testing and assessment firm.
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