The Grounded Reality
The No.1 reason of those who enroll in Universities, Colleges and Professional Institutes is to "get a job". Hardly, anyone ever gets admitted to an educational institution "to further their learning". Colleges being seen as "training grounds for jobs" is actually the exact opposite of their mission to broadly and academically, and not "professionally" train students. In fact, most Chancellors, Deans, Professors and many other office holders will tell you that it's not their job to get their students a job after graduation.
As a consequence, this responsibility is dumped solely on the shoulders of "Placement Departments", which are typically underfunded, understaffed and conveniently hidden in the corner , that students won't discover till the final year.
But overall, Placement Departments are failing students across the length and breadth of the country.
No wonder so many students are struggling to launch their careers after college. More than half of new graduates are unemployed or underemployed(in jobs that hardly utilize their true potential).
The Informal Job Networks
"Freshers" (commonly referring to those just out of college), find jobs in all kinds of ways and not just through the Placement Department. In fact a fair majority of them got an Internship or a Job through a friend. Another bulk of them , found employment opportunities through professors and or other staff members on campus.
Such informal networks are the way many students find out about internships and jobs. It’s the sole reason students, and especially their parents, drive themselves crazy to get into a Costly & Ranking Educational Institution. It’s not that the education is so much better at those places; but due to the network students connect to, through the parents of their classmates, alumni and eventually through the students themselves when they become alumni.
Navigating this network, however, is not easy for many students.
At colleges, students who hail, particularly from lower-middle-income groups, often find it tough to tap into this informal job network.
Both educational institutions and students can easily deal with this situation by i) Slightly changing their approach and ii) Use of latest technology (particularly internet based employment platforms).
What Educational Institutions can do differently?
Partner with off-campus corporate employers and platforms for:
a) Skill Assessment of Students
While its important to teach academic, its equally relevant to test where the learner stands in terms of acquired skills. Testing skills is a completely different from testing academics through the usual grading system. Skill assessment exams are often online, objective type and fast paced. Practicing with these gives learner a psychological and learning edge , like they've never experienced in conventional academics.
b) Technology Enhanced Placement Initiatives
Campuses conduct placement events called "Campus Drives". Its invariably a mass event with marginal success in terms of employment generation. The reasons may be traced into inherent inefficiencies that creep inside manual hiring practices.
Applying technology to such an endeavor has its advantages. First being of the organization. It becomes quite easy to manage applicants and applications on mass scale if all of it was digitized. Secondly, You can track and analyze overall the entire spectrum of hiring, interviews and skill assessment activities at any given time. Thirdly, this efficiency of operations alone creates an environment with amicable for both employers and candidates, leading to beneficial results for both.
c) Organize Industry Relevant Trainings/Workshops
Pure academics equip students better for research, but not so much for the real and grueling market conditions. Campuses should consider inviting practicing professionals from every field to their trainings and workshops. This will enable students to gain real insights on current ground realities and what they'll be facing when they graduate
d) Curriculum Overhaul to meet Industry Standards
There should be a periodic review of academic curriculum by Industry experts to gauge its utility for real world applications and the same must be calibrated, from time to time.
What Freshers can do differently?
The burden does not rest alone on the shoulders of institutions to find jobs for graduates. The pass outs themselves must endeavor in the right direction to shape their careers.
a) Test Their Competencies
Its not enough to know, one must also test their knowledge to be sure and to learn better. Today, the means to test are no longer limited to just writing lengthy tests on paper. Now one can tests their skills through a battery of objective type exams online. A lot of these are free and testing any skill you can name and measure, including elusive personality traits.
b) Enroll in Online Learning Programs
There is no dearth of learning opportunities nowadays, affordable and high quality , thanks to numerous cloud based learning platforms available. Some paid platforms offer certifications as well that are Industry recognized. The learning content is interactive and world class , along-with some platforms offering tutor based counselling as well. The variety of subjects one can learn from scratch or advance their knowledge in is also huge, almost universe scale.
c) Get Industry Recognized Certifications
Degrees are great to have, yet better would be professional certifications. This statement requires neither proof nor justifications for its supported by first hand experience of almost any jobseeker. Anyone looking for a job will tell you that having a Industry Certification is a real edge, sometimes trumping the need for an academic degree.
d) Cultivate Options (Learning & Employment)
A major plus of learning online is the exposure you get. You learn of variety in not only the subjects, you're interested in but also the bigger picture, in terms of what more is there and where this will lead. The leads to opening of a world of new opportunities.