Lack of Employable Talent in Today’s Indian Graduates


During the 1980s, Indian graduates faced a lot of difficulties due to lack of employment opportunities despite good academics and scholastic abilities. Unemployment rate was at its peak. But in 1991, the Economic Reforms have changed the face of Indian job market. Industrialization, growth of public and private sector enterprises etc. boosted employment opportunities as well as better-paid jobs.

Today, it is even more better. Companies are mushrooming like never before. We are outsourcing products and services to international companies. Obviously, there is no lack of opportunity. On the other hand, there is no shortage of professional degree holders. The number of higher education institutes has gone up. India is the third largest higher education market in the world producing 37 lakh graduates every year.

However, companies – national and international are afraid to give jobs to Indian graduates. This because sheer lack of job skills. Industry experts opine that even after pursuing 15-16 years of formal education our graduates are still not suitable for a job. They say, giving jobs to such people will destroy their hard earned brand name and reputation.


It’s not unemployment but unemployability
Lack of employability skills or employable talent among Indian graduates is the current problem in Indian job market. The reasons cited are lack of skills, obsolete syllabus, poor academic delivery, lack of work culture exposure and emphasis on just scoring marks instead of gaining knowledge. We are, thus, surviving with a mediocre higher education system in the global market. This is an open secret now with many industry bodies coming out with research reports and many eminent personalities expressing their opinions on the situation.

Experts talk

  • Nasscom report – According to Nasscom’s report of the 37 lakh graduates coming out every year only 25% of are employable in the IT-BPO sector. Especially when it comes to tech graduates only 35-40% are readily employable. Further, while the industry is updating itself very fast with the global market requirements our education system is still lacking behind.
  • The ‘Metro Man of India’ E-Sreedharan was also upset by the deteriorating standards of technical education in India. According to him, we have enough number of engineering colleges producing lakhs of engineers every year. While the best from IITs and RECs are going to universities abroad, the next best lot goes to management – selling soaps and oils. The next lot goes to IT as it is very lucrative. Still we are left with so many engineers who are of low quality.

    He quotes a survey according which only 12% of the current engineering graduates are employable, 56% can be made useful through further training and the remaining 36% were not even trainable. He emphasized the point that the present curriculum is not in sync with the industry needs, it is not even upgraded frequently to the changing industry needs. He also mentioned that poaching and lack of integrity are two main issues with the current graduates who are doing jobs for the sake of remunerations.

  • Prathibha Patil – The former President of India, expressed her views on Indian education system saying – “Our system must be revolutionized and the institutions must be revamped to go to the next level of the education ladder to produce a generation of skilled, educated, trained, productive and employable youngsters. As India is blessed with great number of young population, our education system must make sure to fully equip this generation before they enter the work sphere.”
  • KPMG partner, Mohit Chandra – Mr. Mohit Chandra is a partner in KPMG, one of the leading professional services companies in the world. In his article – ‘An Open Letter to India’s Graduating Classes‘ published in The New York Times, he expressed his concern about the India’s graduating class. In the beginning itself he said ‘we regret to inform you (graduates) that you are spoiled’. With a collective experience of hiring and developing people, he fins shortage of skills in graduates, which employers typically look for. Here goes those the list of these skills-
    • Lack of English communication skills – both oral and written
    • Poor problem solving skills and inability to think out-of-the-box
    • Not interested to learn or invest in new tools, techniques, and new sector knowledge
    • Unprofessional and unethical behaviors – hopping job every year, using one company’s offer letter to fish jobs in other companies for more salary, not willing to work for extended hours etc.

    His message to the graduates is to make them aware and get ready with the skills that every employer expects. He also asked the grads to invest in language skills, knowledge gaining activities, true professionalism, and to think creatively and non-hierarchically.

  • India Labour Report – 2012 – It is a report compiled by TeamLease Services & Indian Institute of Job Training (IIJT). According to the report enrollment in higher education in India surged to 15.3 million up from 1 lakh in 1947. However, 58% of India’s graduates have some degree of unemployability and they lack formal on-the-job exposure.
  • National Employability Report – Engineering Graduates, 2011 – This report was released by Aspiring Minds, one of the leading employability measurement companies in India. They conducted a study specific to Engineering graduates which revealed that out of five lakh engineers India produce annually, only 87,250 (17.45%) are employable for IT services sector; only 13,400 (2.68%) are employable for IT product sector, only 46,100 (9.22%) are employable for KPO sector etc. According to the study the increase in number of colleges is directly impacting the percentage of employable graduates every year. The report concluded saying improving the quality of education in the existing colleges is the need of hour.
  • World Bank Survey – According to a 2009 survey jointly carried out by the World Bank and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), 64% of surveyed employers are “somewhat”, “not very”, or “not at all” satisfied with the quality of engineering graduates and their job skills and only 36% are satisfied with the employability of graduates.
  • World Bank Director Education – Elizabeth M King – In one of the summits she says though India is enrolling more number of students every year, the quality of education is still poor. She further says that even the best institutes like IITs and IIMs are not as good as MITs in terms of quality of education.
  • McKinsey Global Institute Survey – A survey in 2007 conducted by McKinsey says, of the 3,60,000 engineering graduates India produce only 25% are employable. Further of the 6,00,000 arts/science/commerce graduates only 10% are employable. Also of the 5,000 candidates that register for Ph.Ds in science and engineering every year only 100 people with complete it successfully.

These data are enough to say that it is not unemployment but unemployability which is making our graduates jobless. So, understand the reality and make yourself and everyone you know who may seek a job in future employable instead of getting a degree.

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One Response to “Lack of Employable Talent in Today’s Indian Graduates”

  1. P Ravi Shankar

    The above observation is partially correct, not in totality.The observation has 2 aspects: One is that engineering students coming out of colleges have poor employability skills.The other aspect is whether as many jobs as the number of graduates passing out of colleges are there or not. The second aspect is not the subject of my comment here.

    It is right to say that the Students are unemployable because they do not possess the skills that are needed by the industry. This not just technical skills but a whole lot of other skills – Integrity, Reliability, Team Skills and so on [refer ABET Report on Engineering Change EC2000). For this US has adopted Outcome Based Education from 2000, UK from 2010 and India has mandated it for NBA Certification since Jan 2013. If we hasten this process and get colleges to adopt this, then this problem will be largely addressed from the process perspective. NBA has published guidelines for this change.

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