Entry level job hopping is not new in the industry however its impact will be distinctly visible in a fairly flat IT industry. Rajiv Naithani, Director HR, Dassault Systèmes India provides an in-depth perspective on the human resource challenge and how can the industry overcome them.
Let us take a hypothetical example of an IT delivery company headed by Nitin. Taking a sip of the coffee in his office, Nitin talks to his HR Leader and shares how frustrated he feels when he sees these resignations of freshers who joined the company last year. He had ensured their effective training throughout the past year and now, after having invested too much in their development and readiness towards becoming productive, a few of them have resigned. He has started to believe that instead of providing technology solutions to his customers, his company is turning into a training center for hired candidates for other companies.
The situation which Nitin is facing is not unique in the Indian IT Industry. This stems from two issues – firstly, companies don’t have enough stickiness to retain the young. Secondly, due to non-employability of young candidates, companies are forced to put them through rigorous training programs. By the time the new candidates become productive, the company would probably have invested over 10 to 12 months on their development and readiness for putting them onto live customer projects.
Taking a step towards addressing the Issue of Employability
In H1 2017, 3DPLM – Dassault Systèmes R&D Lab in India, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up Product Innovation Lab at Walchand College of Engineering-Sangli, becoming the sixth such Product Innovation Lab in Walchand. The primary objective of this lab is to create and provide a platform to all the young minds in engineering colleges where they can “Learn by Doing”. Not only would this proactive method enhance their employability, but also cater to the Skill India mission.
We have taken similar initiatives in the past at five different engineering colleges/institutes and all of these labs have been well received by the colleges. Students have been actively participating and engaging themselves in these labs.
As a 3DEXPERIENCE company, our objective is to transform the learning experience by offering academic and research institutions opportunities to leverage the power of 3D to transform the way people interact with and discover the world around them. To help today’s students be better prepared for tomorrow’s real-world experiences and research scientists empowered to find better answers to difficult challenges more quickly, we have equipped them with accurate 3D models of the real world and know-how to use them. Providing students access to and training in 3D technology has never been more imperative.
Key Gaps in Employability
In the Indian context, we find that while Industry has forged ahead in IT and Services, our academia
and research facilities are lagging behind. Various industry reports indicate the gap between employability and talent. Out of 100 engineering graduates, not more than 25 are employable. As of today, graduates from colleges have to undergo rigorous training programs, including shadow projects for 6 to 9 months, for them to be ready for the organization’s requirements. By the time these young minds become productive, a company may have already invested in their development for over 12 months and more. IT companies are becoming more of training schools than being innovation hubs. Besides, the cost and allocated time for training is very high and companies valuable time to create and provide innovative solutions to the market in an environment where competition is intense and fierce.
Employability requires three key ingredients of competency – Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude.
While academia has been doing a good job on the knowledge front, it has failed to address the gap in technical skills development, including the enhancement of soft skills. A major reason for this is that the speed at which the curriculum is revised at Universities is not agile enough to keep pace with industry.
If Universities invested in creating full-fledged practical experiences for their students, their placement ratio and credibility will soar automatically in long run. For the right results, academic institutions should partner closely with industry. Such partnership would mean investment from the industry both in terms of time and money, with uncertain ROI. However, if this investment is channelized effectively, it could result in positive changes that work to the benefit of both the academia and industry.
Listed below some initiatives that can be taken up by Industries –
- Setting up Product Innovation Lab to enable the culture of Innovation in colleges provides ‘learn by doing’ opportunities to students – enabling them to learn beyond their conceptual and theoretical learning. At Dassault Systèmes, we truly believe that when we provide such opportunities to students, they can learn faster and also innovate, thus creating products of the future.
- Mentorship interventions for Professors, because teaching students effectively has a prerequisite of the professors and faculty members being proficient in the new technologies and skills. This can best be supported by Industry. Conducting regular webinars, mentorship programs for faculty members, inviting faculty members to visit company premises, R&D labs and sharing new trends with them, providing a demo on new emerging technologies can benefit Academia in a big way. In Dassault Systèmes, we have been actively partnering with colleges in this space and have an outreach program for skill development of professors and faculty members.
- Corporate India understands the importance of soft skills, and thus organizations invest a lot towards enhancing the soft skills of their employees. Experiential sharing from the corporate sector including learning around ‘campus to corporate’ journey will be of great help. Connect programs and experiential sharing sessions from corporates to campuses would go a long way in addressing this gap.
- Encouraging Alumni-based mentorship program – all students who have graduated and are working in the industry must look at mentoring students. Their timely guidance will better prepare students to be effective in their first corporate job.
And finally, knowledge and skills of an individual are driven by attitude. It is important to understand and focus on one’s strengths without being overly concerned about competition. These include soft skills competencies such as communication, problem-solving, client orientation etc, deciding between compensation vs. learning opportunities, aligning to company culture and value systems and being agile and receptive to change). This should help ensure more employable candidates and address the employability gap in the industry.