Friday, April 9, 2010

"Employability Skills" - Prof.M.S.Rao

According to McKinsey Global Institute survey results, “India produces 360,000 engineering graduates, 600,000 graduates in arts/science/commerce.” And only 25% of engineering graduates and 10% of other graduates are employable.

Before we dwell about employability skills let us briefly look at what employability mean.

What is Employability?

Employability refers to a person's capability of gaining initial employment, maintaining employment, and obtaining new employment if required (Hillage and Pollard, 1998).

Employability is confluence of several skills, abilities, knowledge, competencies and capabilities that enable individuals to get employment and be successful in their professional careers. It helps them individually as well as institutionally. It also dwells at the skill sets, tool sets and mind set that is essential to execute tasks effectively and efficiently.

Employability depends on the knowledge, skills and attitude of the individuals. It is a state of being employed and accomplishing the given tasks with the skills, knowledge and abilities.

“Employability not only depends on whether one is able to fulfill the requirements of specific jobs, but also on how one stands relative to others within a hierarchy of job seekers” (Brown and Hesketh, 2004).

Each year, India produces almost twice the number of engineers produced by the US and a little less than twice of all that Europe produces. It is great to note that India has one of the world’s largest most qualified pools of technical manpower. However, when we look at the employability, we are far behind.

Engineering colleges are mushrooming and the quantity of technical graduates pass out every year from educational institutions. What about the employability. The way quantity of graduates is increasing the quality is not increasing. Are we compromising with quality for the sake of quantity? What ails with our educational system?

It is reported that employers don’t get the applicants with right skill set, mind set and tool set especially in the engineering and construction sectors. Currently there is wide chasm between what the educational institutions are churning out and what the industry expects.

Industry looks for a different mix of skills, abilities, capabilities and competencies in potential hires depending on the business it’s in. Industry also looks for multi skilled individuals. All these things lead to unemployability. In this context, let us look at the difference between unemployability and unemployment.

Unemployability and Unemployment:

People often confuse between unemployability and unemployment. Unemployability arises when individuals have educational eligibility but lack in capability and suitability to execute job related activities despite being the availability of employment opportunities. Unemployment is a state where individuals have educational eligibility, capability and suitability but dearth of employment opportunities. The current situation in India is more of unemployability rather than unemployment.

Employability Skills:

Employability skills are all about the ability of individuals to exhibit their skills to the prospective employers and the ability to execute the tasks thereby achieving organizational goals and objectives. Besides, it also talks about the ability to switch over to other jobs comfortably.

Employability skills refer to specific skills essential for employment. These are the critical tools and traits required to perform tasks at workplace. These skills are much sought after these days by employers. The needs of employability skills differ from country to country and from sector to sector and from time to time. However, certain qualities such as communication skills, interpersonal skills, integrity, right attitude, problem solving, decision making and team building skills can be taken as a few common skills of employability skills.

All businesses cry for employability skills as these enable their growth and competitiveness. These skills are essential for all employers cutting across all industries. These are the additional skills apart from the core skills and hard skills. Besides, Indian youth began realizing that without these employable skills it is difficult to grab jobs.

The need for employability skills differ from one country to another. For instance, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) identified six categories of skills which are important to employability. They are; basic competency, communication, adaptability, developmental activities, group effectiveness and influencing others. In Malaysia, these are positive values, leadership skills, teamwork force, communicative skills and life-long learning.

In Australia employability skills are defined as “the skills required gaining employment or establish an enterprise, but also to progress within an enterprise or expand employment capability, so as to achieve one’s potential and contribute successfully to an enterprise’s strategic directions.” The eight employability skills are initiative and enterprise, learning, self-management, communication, teamwork, problem solving, planning and organizing and technology.

American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) identified a benchmark of six skill categories important to employability. These are:

Basic competency (reading, writing, computation)
Communication (speaking, listening)
Adaptability (problem solving, creative thinking)
Developmental (self-esteem, motivation and goal setting, career planning)
Group Effectiveness (interpersonal, teamwork, negotiation)
Influencing (understanding organization culture, sharing leadership)

Ascent (The Times of India) has introduced a revolutionary concept of ‘Employability Potential Assessment at Campus (EPAC)’ to meet the objectives of campuses and recruiters. It is a paper-based employment test battery implemented at all AICTE approved business schools in the country. This will test the candidate for his’/her communication skills, analytical abilities and practicing managerial abilities. (Reference Ascent, The Times of India dated 09 December 2009)

All these things indicate that efforts are initiated to clearly define what employability skills are and how to spot among the students.


“To be employed is to be at risk, to be employable is to be secure.” Peter Hawkins

Mere academic abilities alone will not be adequate. What is essential is something beyond academic domain such as communication skills, problem solving skills, communication skills which are known as employability skills. When applicants possess these skills then it becomes easier for employers to train other technical skills easily. To sum, both educational institutions and industry should work together for enhancing employability skills as it is rightly said that you need to clap with both hands to get the results.


Anonymous said...

very good.... thanks....

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this useful info. Keep updating same way.
Regards,Ashish Leadership Skill Training -