Showing posts with label Skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Skills. Show all posts

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Acquire SKILLS to successfully transition from Academics to the Corporate world

 

Over the last week, I came across a couple of related news articles, which prompted me to think and write this blog.


This photo was published in The Hindu newspaper on 26th March -24: Students engaged in last-minute revision on their way to the Government school at Kengeri to take the SSLC examination. 

This photo immediately took me back to my school days, this is how I used to be, my head buried in books till the last minute, before entering the examination hall. I am talking about 1994-'96, three decades ago. Seeing this pic, makes me wonder, hasn't there been any change in the approach towards learning, and preparing for exams in the last 30 years? These children are engrossed in the last-minute rote learning and concerned about marks, just like me and my batchmates were, three decades ago. Quite concerning and regretful as a society!



On 21st March-'24, The Hindu newspaper carried another news: 'Only 7% of college attain 100% campus placement'. The statistics are quite a disaster and concern me as someone who is involved in education, youth development, and career counseling. 

According to the news article, 66% of recruiters and 42% of university partners feel the skill gap and lack of preparation, respectively, are major challenges in campus recruitment. On the contrary, 91% of students believe their college curricula offer an adequate level of preparation for a job. 

Again going back to my graduation and post-graduation days, I can relate to this. I did my graduation from a non-descript college in Tumkur (a town near Bangalore) which had no campus placement and quite limited exposure to the industry. Doing my post-graduation at Manipal University, was the exact opposite experience for me, because of its wide exposure to industry and campus placement opportunities it offered to us. 
In my graduation days, I too didn't realize the skill gap and industry ignorance I was carrying myself. This was partially overcome through 1 year of internship in industry, during my post-graduation days, which helped me to secure my first job.



The 3rd news article 'Sloganeering does not change the world' was featured in The Hindu on the 23rd of March 2024. Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj speaking at a function announced Bajaj Group companies, has decided to commit Rs 5,000 crore investment under the 'Bajaj Beyond' initiative over five years to help more than 2 crore young Indians benefit through skilling. This skilling program includes mechanical engineering training by Bajaj Auto and financial services training by Bajaj Finserv. "You do not change the world by sloganeering. Words will not change the world unless you have the skills to put those words into action. With Bajaj Beyond, we will design future-proof curriculums, provide real-world, hands-on experiences, and equip our youth with the adaptability and innovation required to thrive in the ever-evolving mobility landscape". - Rajiv Bajaj. 

This news makes so much sense as we are living in the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution). The gap between academia and industry is growing, and the skill requirements of the future world of AI, ML, and Robotics are still unfolding, which is making traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms and conventional syllabus outdated by industrial transformation by leaps and bounds. 

This news article succinctly, links up directly with the final news article 'Employment scenario in India grim, says ILO report' published on 27th March 2024, in The Hindu newspaper. 


The report says that youngsters account for almost 83% of the country's unemployed workforce. While India's large young workforce is a demographic dividend, the report noted that they don't appear to have the skills to deliver - with 75% of youth unable to copy and paste files, and 90% unable to put a mathematical formula into a spreadsheet. The report also mentions the deteriorating trend of the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), Worker Population Ratio (WPR), and Underemployment Rate (UR), over the years. 

The common thread across all the above-mentioned news articles is the structural inadequacy in the preparedness of our youth, to make a seamless transition from academia to the corporate world. 

It's high time our approach to education needs to change, rather than focusing on marks, grades, and acquiring degrees after degrees, our focus should shift to imparting our youth with skills, practical knowledge, and life skills to enable them to thrive in the 4IR. This need for change is recognized by many, but this cannot be achieved unless there is a collective effort by all stakeholders - educational institutes, students, parents, and industry. 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Unlocking Success: The Power of Apprenticeship in a Changing World.

AI generated image

This is my last piece in the series of Blogs on the Leh Ladakh visit. If you haven’t read my previous blogs from Leh Ladakh Travel, you can check them out here:

https://www.noherdmentalityblogs.com/2023/07/alchi.html

https://www.noherdmentalityblogs.com/2023/08/a-school-i-wish-i-had-gone-to.html

Our Leh Ladakh trip was special because of the several fantastic people. One of them is my family, my cousin Anindita who planned the entire trip for us. Since she is my sister, I can discount her here (like all siblings do 😊) and I will mention the others in my blog.

If you have been there you would agree with me, that in Ladakh a tourist spends more time in a car or bike than staying in their hotels. We had taken the service of Tashi who owned a Mahindra XUV700 and he drove us all around for the whole week. Tashi was highly professional, well mannered and he provided us very good service. Over time, we got to know each other. He is someone who came up in life the hard way. Didn’t have the privilege of going to school, started working in his late childhood, drove a taxi for tourists, and eventually through years of hard work he now owns his own car, he is self-employed and reasonably doing well for himself. 


With Tashi

Vishal was a local contact referred to us by our cousin. We had been in touch with him from Bangalore and he helped us out with all the pit-stop coordination, travel bookings, etc. We made it a point to meet him before leaving, to convey our thanks to him. During over the coffee conversation, he shared his life’s journey with us. He hails from Nepal. His cousin owned a hotel cum restaurant at Leh, so he came down to work at this hotel in his teenage years. He worked there for several years, learned the art of managing a hotel, and eventually he went out on his own to start his own hotel business with a local partner. He now runs two hotels of his own, during summers he runs a hotel in Leh and during winters he runs a hotel in Goa.


With Vishal

Nubra valley also called Dumra “valley of flowers” is the terrain between Nubra and Shyok rivers. Nishidh runs a camp out there for tourists. Nishidh meets all his guests during their stay and in one such interaction on a chilly morning, he shared his life’s journey with me. He comes from a local village in Nubra and grew up doing odd jobs in the hospitality sector and working in camping, tours, and travels. After working for two decades, his desire for entrepreneurship propelled him to start Paramount Camp, a few years back. He told me, “Sir, if not now then when?” umer like ja raha tha, it was now or never”.    

 

Nishidh at Paramount Camp

Friends, if you see the common thread between the three of them, it’s careers built through apprenticeship (learning a trade by working under a skilled employer). All of them received any formal education or degree, yet they managed to build successful careers by acquiring skills and knowledge through experiential learning and not through learning theories sitting in a classroom.


This is a food for thought for all of us who are interested in education. By the way, in today’s time of continuous learning, none of us are spared from not being a stakeholder in education. While studying ourselves as students, or while teaching others we should engage in experiential learning, and acquire skills and not just certificates and degrees on a piece of paper. As the world of work is changing (4th Industrial Revolution) the importance of Skills and Hands-on Practical Experience is growing by the day over just bookish knowledge. Tashi, Vishal, and Nishidh are the touch-bearers of this growing trend.


Monday, February 27, 2023

Perils of Outsourcing Academic Research




Image credit: I'm a Lazy Student on Facebook


Screenshot from my Whatsapp Chat


Recently I received a Whatsapp message from a friend of mine, enquiring for a freelancer, who can help a student to write the research synopsis. This message was the trigger for writing this blog, as I hold strong opinionated view,  on such academic learning/practice.

I reached out to a freelance writer in my network who holds a Masters Degree in Psychology (relatable background as the student) to get her perspective. Thanks to this interaction, I was able to assimilate newer perspectives and garner a holistic view. Though I still hold an opinionated view on such learning practice.

Technology (internet, digital, affordable computers) has increased the outreach and access to education, exponentially, ever seen before in the brick and mortar era. The same technology has also ushered opportunities for Freelancers, often referred as Gig workers (Gig economy). 

The critical question in this confluence is: How should one approach education in today's context? 

The emphasis on just earning Certificates and Degrees, is a passe, without any demonstrable skills. 

In today's 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) the new emphasis is on hands-on skills and knowledge which can be put into practice!

In this changed paradigm, if a student's endeavour is just get a certificate, without acquiring skills and knowledge, they will be left holding just a piece of worthless paper in their hands.

Not to discount the fact, that outsourcing the academic assignment is unethical as it amounts to plagiarism.

Well, I don't want to take a morale high ground here and pass my judgement and sermons. I do understand a freelancer is within their rights to look at this, just as a professional task to be executed on payment basis. They are present in the marketplace to offer their knowledge and skills for a service fee. Hence the primary onus to outsource or not to outsource, lies with the students.

A student should ask two questions: 

The practice in which I am indulging, is it Ethical? 
Those who are morally upright, might refrain from outsourcing their academic writing. 

Am I Being Stupid by indulging in this practice? 
Let's assume there are students who give a damn to morality! They should ask this 2nd question, Am I being stupid?
At the face-value, you are is just outsourcing your academic work. However, at a deeper level you are outsourcing your learning opportunity, the rigour of research, opportunity to think critically, opportunity to gain deeper insights and in-depth expertise in your vocation. So in a true sense, the opportunity cost here is - Not To Learn and Grow!
So Am I Being Stupid? 
I am sure, by now almost all students would see the futility of indulging in this outsourcing practice. 

Playing devil's advocate here, a student may say - I don't care of ethics and I don't mind not learning. I am doing outsourcing my academic work, because I need a degree attached to my name. 

To them, I would humbly present my 1st argument. In today's changed context (4IR), the certificate/degree is just a piece of paper, unless one can exhibit skill and knowledge. So to those students, I would say, What's the point in spending your valuable time and money for a course of your disinterest. Your time and money, can be invested in a better avenue, which can make your flourish to your fullest potential.    

Enough of my lecturing and gyaan isn't it! 

So do I have a solution and positive inputs to provide to the students who maybe genuinely struggling to grasp the academic concepts and hence out of desperation are in look out for such freelancers (ghost writers) for their academic projects. These are few of the solutions I can think off:
  1. Time management: Usually a student can get pushed to hire/outsource their work, to meet a pressing timeline (this is a practical challenge especially for part-time students who also have to manage their work along with their studies). My advice would be, devout daily time, even if it's for shorter duration. Time management (daily time commitment, discipline) will go a long way, from preventing a student to get pushed by timeline crunch.
  2. Clarity on the Learning Objectives: Do always have the clarity of 'End in Mind'. Students should remind themselves they have taken the course for Employability (skill and knowledge) and not just to get a paper (certificate).
  3. Utilise Online Learning Resources: YouTube would be a great place to look up for tutorials on writing research proposals, synopsis etc. If one genuinely watches them with desire for learning, students would be able to supplement these learnings along with their existing class notes/lectures etc.
  4. Fun of Peer-learning (Group study): Engage in learning with your peers. Not to forget group study can be a fun way of learning too. 
  5. Find a mentor: You can always find a helpful mentor who is willing to guide you, challenge you to think independently and execute your work being self-reliant under their guidance. 
  6. If you are still unable to make in-roads and need to fall upon a freelancer, I would advice engage with someone who would refrain from ghost writing. Of course they would charge you for their knowledge and skill, but let them charge you for offering you guidance/mentoring and reviewing your drafts, rather than making you dumb by writing your project
With ChatGPT breaking into the scene, it's now so evident that outsourcing academic research/assignments is going into a whole new dimension. So it finally boils down to a matter of choice the student's have to make for themselves. 

Think short-term - indulge in academic outsourcing, enjoy the pleasures of free-time and just get the paper (certificate) in hand but fail to be future ready. 

Think long-term - DIY (Do It Yourself), enjoy the process of learning, gain skills/knowledge and grow into future ready citizen.

Bon Jovi famously sang "It's My Life". 

So who am I as a blogger to advice and pass judgements. "It's Your Life", so make your own choices and live the consequences. 

Signing off from this opinionated blog for now.......