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From the classroom to the real world : Rahul's struggle to find job readiness skills

Despite holding a degree from a top- tier Indian University, recent Graduate, Rahul has been unemployed since ten months, as his knowledge and skill underscores the widening gap between traditional classroom education and the skills demanded by the modern job market.

Rahul had always been a diligent student, the kind who never missed a class and took meticulous notes. When he graduated with an honours degree from a reputed University, he felt confident that he would find a job in no time. As we spoke further, Rahul shared about the struggles' his family took to get him the best of education, and now it was his turn to stand on his feet. But as months went by, rejections piled up and Rahul realised that something was missing.

"It's not just about having good grades anymore"

Rahul told me when we met at a cafe in Khan market.

"I thought that was enough, but it's not. The real world is looking for practical knowledge beyond the bookish knowledge". Despite having a degree in Computer Science, most employers are looking at hands on experience in the latest software and programming language.

"I never got that kind of exposure during my graduation", Rahul said, his voice tinged with regret. "We had theoretical classes, sure, but not enough opportunities to work on live projects or intern with companies. I feel like I missed out on a lot."

Rahul's story is not unique.

According to a report by the National Employability Report for Graduates, only 7% of engineering graduates and other graduates are suitable for employment in the knowledge economy. The report cited a lack of practical skills, including communication, problem- solving, and critical thinking, as one of the main reasons for this. A report by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) found that most Indian universities focus on theory and fail to provide students with opportunities for hands-on learning.

In a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), it was found that only 7% of Indian workers have received any kind of formal training. The education system in India is often criticized for its emphasis on rote learning and outdated teaching methods. While there have been efforts to introduce more experiential learning and Industry exposure these initiatives are still in their nascent stages.

"I realized that I needed to work on my soft skills," Rahul said. "So, I started taking online courses and attending workshops to improve my communication and presentation skills. It's not easy, but I'm determined to keep learning and growing."

Rahul's determination and resilience are admirable, but his story highlights a larger issue in the education system in India. The lack of practical skills and industry exposure leaves many graduates ill-equipped for the job market, despite having degrees in their fields. To address this issue, experts suggest that universities and colleges need to incorporate more experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and live projects, into their curriculum. They also suggest that students should be encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities that develop their soft skills, such as public speaking and leadership.

"Enhancing Employability through Experiential Learning: A Study of Indian B- Schools" by N.K. Chadha and Niharika Vyas: suggested that B-Schools should incorporate more industry visits, internships, live projects, and simulations to provide students with practical learning experiences.

From the Industry point of view, employers are often faced with the challenge of having to invest significant time and resources in training new hires, who may lack the practical skills required to succeed in their roles. This can lead to lower productivity, higher turnover rates, and increased costs for businesses. Additionally, the lack of skilled workers can also hinder growth and innovation, which are essential for staying competitive in today's economy. As a result, industries are calling for a reform of the education system to ensure that graduates are equipped with the skills and experiences needed to succeed in the workplace.

Preparing for success with real world experience Lastly, change can't happen overnight. It will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including educators, policymakers, and employers. As I said goodbye to Rahul, I couldn't help but feel hopeful. Despite the challenges he's faced, he remains determined to succeed. His story is a testament to the resilience and grit of young graduates in India who are striving to make a difference in the world, one step at a time.

Written by Krishay Raj Chandok

This feature article has been written by a student journalist as part of the April'23 cohort of the Re-Imagining Media Program.

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