Monday, November 24, 2014

British Council India Employability Survey 2014 - Foreign degree holders better skilled for jobs

Functioning in an increasingly globalised environment, many companies feel that foreign degree holders have better technical skills for jobs compared to Indian university graduates, says a latest survey. As per British Council's 'India Employability Survey 2014', as much as 39 per cent of the companies in India said that foreign university graduates are better prepared for the jobs than those from Indian ones.

Further, the survey conducted in 200 Indian and foreign companies in the country found that 41 per cent have hired at least one foreign university graduate in the last two years.

Sector-wise, consumer goods (60 per cent), services (52.2 per cent), infrastructure, telecom and energy (50 per cent) firms are the most likely to have hired at least one candidate with a foreign degree. Industrial (34.5 per cent) and IT (35.7 per cent) firms are the least likely to hire foreign degree graduates, the survey said.

"As organisations strive to compete and drive business growth in an increasingly global marketplace, they place significant importance on international education in talent they recruit," British Council India Director Rob Lynes said. "Hiring foreign university graduates is an integral part of talent plan for a large per centage of firms," Lynes added.

About 41 per cent of companies surveyed prefer to hire graduates from American universities, while 25.8 per cent do so for universities in the United Kingdom.

Subject-knowledge related to the job was ranked the most important skill by the companies. This was followed by communication skills, the ability to apply one's knowledge to solve real-world issues and critical thinking skills. Inter-personal skills, the ability to work with diverse groups of people, leadership experience and the ability or willingness to work hard, were placed lower down the order.

"Foreign-degree holders appear to be more disposed towards having strong 'technical' skills critical thinking, the ability to use knowledge to solve real world problems," Lynes said. On the other hand, Indian university graduates were found to be relatively stronger on the 'soft' skills, such as working with diverse groups of people, and interpersonal skills, he added.

"While the US leads the way on almost every major skill, the UK is a clear second in terms of communication and inter-personal skills and Germany came close to second along with the UK in most other arenas," Lynes noted.

Source: The Times of India, November 24, 2014
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Maharashtra home to most accredited colleges, second highest number of certified varsities

Nearly 85% of the 34,852 colleges in the country have not gone through the mandatory assessment process by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), and over one-third of the 642 universities (71%) remain unaccredited.

The lack of quality check in a majority of institutes of higher education has been revealed in the latest Deloitte report on the annual status of higher education in states and union territories. For Maharashtra, however, the situation is much better as it has the highest number of accredited colleges in the country, followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The state also has the distinction of most numbers of accredited universities, second only to Tamil Nadu. Though Tamil Nadu has 27 accredited universities, the highest in numbers, percentage wise, it is next to Maharashtra.


According to the report, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Assam are the top three states in terms of percentage of universities accredited at 52, 46 and 44 respectively. Jharkhand, Haryana and Bihar are at the bottom with 8%, 14% and 15% respectively. Similarly, Assam, Punjab and Haryana are the top three states when it comes to percentage of colleges accredited at 67, 61 and 57 respectively, while Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar are the bottom three.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has made it mandatory for all colleges and varsities to go in for accreditation for grants. Rohin Kapoor, Senior Manager of Deloitte India, said the sheer number of institutes in the country makes it difficult for the agency to carry out assessment. "There are close to 35,000 institutes and 650 universities in the country. The numbers go up every year," said Kapoor. "Since it is mandatory now, many colleges have been submitting their assessment reports. It will take time for the agency to process all. The government should allow private agencies to assist NAAC. The policies should encourage a public-private partnership model for evaluating institutes in the country," he said.

Kapoor added that the data used from the website NAAC (2011-12) was the latest from the government available for the study. Many colleges have gone for accreditation post 2011-12, but the number of new institutes has also jumped in the last three years. Around 570 colleges went in for accreditation in 2012, 687 in 2013 and 517 in 2014 till date.

H. Devaraj, Vice-Chairman of UGC, said, "The UGC has sanctioned 25 new posts at NAAC, which is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Once that is done, the staff strength will go up to 50. The NAAC is also planning to set up six to seven regional centres that will be equipped to grant accreditation to colleges/universities. The increase in the number of staff will help clearing backlog and expedite the process." He predicted the number will improve in the next two years.

"Most of the unaided colleges affiliated to the Mumbai University are the usual defaulters as they do not have approved staff and their infrastructure is not in place," said M A Khan, Registrar, Mumbai University. The most important parameter for accreditation is to have approved faculty on board, which institutes lack, he added. The MU has recently attached all the benefits granted to colleges to their accredited status. "We allow colleges to increase divisions, seats, or to set up a new course if they are accredited or have applied for re-accreditation," said Khan.

Source: The Times of India, November 24, 2014
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

US-bound tech pupils: 4 Indian cities in top 10

There is a popular wisecrack among engineers in India --- one leg in India, another in Air India. Most of them graduate and fly off to pursue a master's. Little wonder then that for the US, as many as four Indian cities Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore --- are among the largest senders of students who want to wrap up their education with an American degree in STEM ---  short for science, technology, engineering and maths, according to Brookings report.

These Indian graduates are likely to get to spend more time in the United States with President Barack Obama clearing the new immigration policy.

The optional training programme, which allows F-1 (student) visa holders to work full-time in the US for up to 29 months after receiving an American bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in STEM, will be relaxed further. Of all international students flying to the US for an education, most sign up for either a business management course or a STEM programme.


Collectively, the STEM fields account for 37% of all F-1 visa approvals. Among foreign STEM students, 31% are from China, 27% from India and 5% from South Korea.

Hyderabad sent 26,220 students to America between 2008 and 2012, and 20,840 of these attended STEM classes. Hyderabad was followed by Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai and Mumbai. Of all those who flew out from the country's commercial capital, 61.5% -10,638 of 17,294 --- joined a STEM course.


Source: The Times of India, November 23, 2014
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

60% rise in GRE applicants from India

Indian students aspiring to go abroad for studies seem to be increasing like never before. Students appearing for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), whose score is widely accepted for admission to colleges in the United States, saw a whopping 60% jump in the past year. Engineering continues to be the most sought after subject for Indians taking the test.

The report, `Snapshots of the individuals who took the GRE revised general test', released by ETS, the testing agency points to a huge jump in the number of Indians taking GRE even as the rest of the world shows only a marginal increase. China, a major competitor, has shown a 7% dip in number of students appearing for this exam.

In India, the number of candidates taking the exam was around 30,000 in 2011-12. The number rose to 53,505 the next year and touched 84,841 by 2013-14. The number of students vying for it tripled in two years. Physical sciences is second in demand. This includes subjects like Chemistry, Computer Science and Information, Physics and Astronomy, Mathematical Sciences and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Business also saw a huge increase. Around 10,000 students said they hadn't yet decided on the subject.

The US continues to be the major study destination. However, Canada and Europe are increasingly becoming popular. The percentage of women taking the test dipped marginally compared to the past two years. According to a new report released by the US immigration and customs enforcement of the department of homeland security, the total number of Indian students studying in the US shot up 28% to 1,34,292. India has the second-largest foreign student body in the US after China.

Source: The Times of India, November 22, 2014
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coursera set to increase its presence in India

Online education firm Coursera is in talks with educational institutes and companies in the country as it looks to further expand presence in the Indian market, one of its top-five revenue generators.

Coursera, which offers courses from top global universities like Duke, Caltech, Stanford and Princeton, has recently signed its first partnership in India with the Indian School of Business (ISB).

"We are very excited about the opportunities here. India is our second largest user-base already with 800,000 students registered. It is also one of the top five countries in terms of revenue generated for Coursera," Coursera Chief Executive Officer Richard C Levin told PTI.

He added that India's relative position is likely to improve over time, given the high value Indian employers place on the potential of massive open online courses (MOOCs) for developing skills relevant for employees and prospective employees.

Coursera offers free online courses across multiple disciplines for free. However, it charges a fee for certification for the course. It offers about 800 courses from 115 universities.

"We are educating companies here on the benefits of our model and they have been very receptive. They are interested in using our model for their own employees since its an alternate way of taking courses," he said.

Levin added that Coursera is in discussions with companies on how its courses can be blended and taken offline for training employees.

Coursera's largest market is the US, where it has close to 4 million users. Globally, it has about 10 million people undertaking various courses through its platform.

Source: The Economic Times, November 19, 2014
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

After 3-yr lull, Indian students rediscover lure of US degrees

The number of Indian students in the United States increased by 6% to 102,673 in the academic year 2013-2014, reversing a three year trend of their declining numbers at American campuses. But Chinese students continued to surge into the US, edging up to 300,000.

The annual `Open Doors' report on international student traffic in and out of the US shows that nearly one in three foreign students on US campuses is now from China (31%) compared to only around one in eight from India (12%). China, India, and Korea (8%) between them account for more than 50% of the 886,000 international students, who contributed $27 billion to the US economy .

The modest reversal in the Indian student inflow into the US belies earlier reports that there has been a 26% spike in their numbers. In fact, after peaking at nearly 105,000 in 2009-2010 academic year, Indian student population in the US dropped to 96,754 in 20122013 as other destinations like the UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe hawked their educational wares before the continuing US allure kicked in this year.

The US remains the preferred destination for foreign students, the report says, hosting more of the world's 4.5 million globally mobile college and university students than any other country in the world, with almost double the number hosted by the UK, the second leading host country .

Still, the Indian student inflow into the US story pales in comparison with that of the Chinese invasion over the past 15 years during which `Open Doors' has monitored the traffic. In 2000, China and India were not too far apart in terms of student traffic into the US, each having close to 45,000 students in the world's most favored destination. At one point in the 1990s, there were more students in the US from India than from China. China has since pulled away. There are now five times as many Chinese students on US campuses as were reported in Open Doors 2000; but only two times as many Indian students.

The last few years has also seen a massive spike in student inflow from Saudi Arabia (which, at 54,000 students) now stands 4th after China, India, and South Korea), mainly on the strength of government scholarships. Significantly, Pakistan, which used to send a large number of students to the US, now does not even feature in the Top 25.

New York University became the leading host university for international students this year, after 12 years during which University of Southern California was the leader. For the first time ever, four institutions broke the 10,000 mark: New York University, University of Southern California, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and Columbia University, which each hosted more than 10,000 international students.

Source: The Times of India, November 18, 2014
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Monday, November 17, 2014

India to explore US assistance in setting up IIT campus

India and US today decided to boost cooperation in the field of higher education including exploring possible American assistance in setting up a new IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) campus. At the third India-US Higher Education Summit held here, the two countries also decided to focus on developing vocational skills by augmenting their cooperation in the field of community colleges.

The delegation-level meeting, attended by top officials as well as representatives from the private sector, was co-chaired by Higher Education Secretary Satyanarayan Mohanty and US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel.

Making a strong pitch for strengthening of vocational education, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), Ved Prakash said, "We have instituted a large number of vocational colleges but a bigger push is required including in terms of available teaching force".

Earlier in the day, during a bilateral meet of the joint taskforce on community colleges, a decision was taken to develop a plan for implementation of the MoU signed between the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). A report was also released during the meet which reported a six per cent increase of Indian students studying at the US, taking the number to 1,20,000.

Calling for "democratisation of knowledge", Stengel stressed on the need for more MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). "More MOOCs will lead to a democratisation of knowledge that will help in overriding the elitism of universities and we need to explore whether MOOcs could be shared across platforms," he said.

Recalling the close assistance between the two countries during the setting up of IIT-Kanpur, Higher Education Additional Secretary Amarjeet Sinha said that more such assistance would be welcome. "On account of the partnership between IIT-Kanpur and US institutions, it stands where it does today. The government has announced plans in setting up five new IITs where more such cooperation would be welcome."

Agreeing to explore such an option, John Beed, Mission Director for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said, "It would be difficult to find a silicon valley firm that has not had the contribution of an IIT-Kanpur alumnus."

It was the third such dialogue in a row, after the first one held in Washington in June 2012 and the second one in New Delhi in June last year. The Dialogue explored various forms of collaboration between the two countries, especially in the fields of development of community colleges, massive open online courses, student and faculty exchange and skill development, said a statement of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

The dialogue was co-chaired by Secretary Higher Education Satya N Mohanty and US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel.

The US Department of State also announced the launching of the new Passport to India website (http://www.passporttoindia.com) in cooperation with the Ohio State University. The Passport to India initiative encourages young American leaders to seek out study and internship opportunities in India. The new website will also serve as a portal to help students identify these opportunities, the statement said.

Source: The Economic Times (Online edition), November 17, 2014)
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Enrolment of Indian students in US up by 28%

The total number of Indian students studying in the US shot up 28% to 134,292 students, comprising the second largest foreign student body in America after China, according to a new report published on Thursday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

A startling majority - 65% - were studying engineering, computer science, and information technology and support services, and together with students in other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields made up 79% of all India students in America. As a result, though Indians only make up 12% of the foreign student population in the US, they constitute 26% of all foreign STEM students. Business, biology, and medicine were the next most popular fields of study, with the social sciences, humanities and liberal arts, and visual and performing arts the least popular fields.

The gender balance of Indian students is similarly skewered, two-thirds being male and only one-third being female. In total, there are 89,561 Indian male students and only 44,731 Indian female students.

A major reason for the rapid growth in students is economic, according to Naveen Chopra, Chairman of The Chopras, an educational consulting group based in Delhi. "The US economy is growing now, and unemployment has fallen from 10% to 6%," Chopra said, adding that "Indian students believe the US has the best opportunities for work."

This increase reflects a greater trend for both Indian undergraduate and graduate students studying in the US. The total number of Indian graduate students enrolled there has jumped 26% to 54,245 students, according to a new report released Wednesday by the American Council of Graduate Schools. This was the second consecutive year of double digit growth, building upon a 14% increase last year, and a sharp reversal in trend from years past when Indian graduate school enrollment was actually decreasing.

This was also by far the largest increase among Asian countries in the Council of Graduate Schools survey, compensating for sagging graduate enrollment rates in countries such as China, with a mere 3% increase, and Korea, with a 6% decrease. Only Brazil, which sends less than one-twentieth the number of students India does to the US, saw higher growth at 32%.

The number of Indian students in Australia and New Zealand are also increasing. Australia, which registered a huge dip in Indian student enrollment after a series of racially motivated attacks on Indian students in 2009, has recovered in recent years with total student visa applications from India more than doubling from 2012 to 2013.

However, Indian enrollment in the United Kingdom has been plummeting, dropping 44% from 2010-11 to 2012-13, says the Higher Education Funding Council for England, going from 18,535 to 10,235 students during that time period. This was mainly because of changes in visa regulations, said Chopra. "The UK curtailed their two-year, post-study work visa in 2012, which used to let students stay in the UK to find employment after graduation," he pointed out. "As a result, the middle class market collapsed. But you still find many upper class students going to the UK."

Scholarships may also be a factor. "The US is way ahead of the UK and Australia in scholarships, which allows hardworking middle class Indian students to go to the US," Chopra said. A National Union of Students survey found earlier this year that nearly 63% of Indian PhD students in the UK felt the UK government was "not welcoming" or "not welcoming at all".

This precarious drop has sent the UK scrambling to repair its tattered image. UK universities and sciences minister Nick Clark recently visited India for three days to strengthen educational ties between the UK and India and to address "misconceptions" that Indian students might have about the difficulty of obtaining visas to the UK. During his stay he also announced a new five-year initiative to send 25,000 students from the UK to India.

Source: The Times of India, November 16, 2014
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

India, UK set up 50 million pound fund for research

India and the UK on Wednesday announced setting up of a 50 million pound Newton-Bhabha Fund which will be used for multi-disciplinary cooperation in the fields of science, research and innovation between the two countries.

Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said the programme was aimed at providing financial assistance to the best minds from both countries in carrying out scientific research and innovation.

"Scientists, academicians, research scholars and administrators from both countries have come forward to undertake joint-research activities for developing a scientific temper among the people. Newton-Bhabha Fund is a tribute to the famous icons Homi J. Bhabha and Sir Issac Newton from both the lands. The programme aims to provide 50 million pounds to the best minds of both countries in addressing the global challenges through the application of science and technology," Vardhan said.

Delegates from both the countries deliberated on various issues at a meeting of the 4th UK-India Science and Innovation Council and decided to go for joint new research projects in mental health and substance abuse among others.

"I hope this exciting new programme will deliver as much to global science as Newton and Bhabha. By working together to address big societal challenges, like sustainable cities, health, food, energy and water, the UK and India can deliver tangible benefits for our countries and the world," said Greg Clark, British minister for Universities, Science and Cities.

Source: The Times of India, November 13, 2014
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Number of Indian women executives taking GMAT at all-time high

With Indian and global multinationals wanting more women in their workforce, seasoned women executives appear to be keen to re-skill. According to the latest data from Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the number of women from India taking the test in the age group of 25-40 years, who are mostly professionals with work experience, have risen to an all-time high with a 14% increase year on year.

The total number of women from India appearing for the GMAT also hit an all-time high in 2014, with a 17% increase in July-June 2014, compared with the same period a year ago. This compares with a 12% increase in the number of GMAT test takers (men and women combined) from TY2013 to TY2014, suggesting that the pace of growth of women test takers from India has surpassed the growth in the total number of Indian test takers (men and women combined). The total number of women also include a 20.2% increase in the number of women in the age group below 25.

GMAC data is presented in testing years. A testing year (TY) runs from July 1 to June 30, mirroring the academic year. "Most large and evolved organisations are taking a much greater interest in furthering the career of women. There is a lot more conviction and seriousness around their careers," says Amitabh Jhingan, partner and education sector leader at consulting firm EY. That is driving this uptick in the number of women professionals wanting to re-skill, he adds.

The top 10 Destinations to which Indian citizens, both men and women, sent their scores in TY 2014 include US (55.4%), India (6.2%), Singapore (6.6%), UK (5.8%), Canada (5.1%), France (4.7%), Spain (1.4%), Australia (1.0%), Germany (0.8%), and Hong Kong (0.7%).

"We wanted more women to come into this. Whoever we talk to - corporate recruiters, business schools - all want more women...We started systematically with candidate outreach in campuses, particularly those that are women only. We talked to them about GMAT as an option to study abroad and in India," says Ashish Bhardwaj, Vice President - Asia Pacific at GMAC. The GMAT exam is valid for admission into masters, MBA and executive MBA in India and abroad. The test scores are valid for five years.

The 14% increase in the number of women test takers in the age group of 25-40 years could also suggest that pressures of marriage and motherhood are no longer forbidding mid-level women professionals from opting for further education.

The increase is a clear pointer that women's aspiration and confidence levels have gone up, which in turn is boosted by a feeling that their aspirations will be met. This also means more women will be hired, says Saundarya Rajesh, founder and head of Avtar Career Creators, a talent strategy consulting firm. "We have seen that this hiring sentiment of organisations has gone up in the past 6-8 months and more importantly, the intent to hire women has gone up... This is also a clear indication that more women are wanting to be hired. That is (seen in) the trend of women returning to the workplace," she adds.

The focus is shifting from technology to behavioural and leadership skills as one grows. "Corporate India has raised the benchmark on their expectations from potential talent available in the market. Also, up-skilling is essential at varied levels of career progression," says Gayathri Ramamurthy, lead - diversity and inclusion at Capgemini India.

Also, there are more women role models, which could be prompting an increasing number of women professionals to re-skill. "There are many more women in the CEO/CXO position than five years ago," says Savita Mahajan, Deputy Dean, ISB, Hyderabad. Besides sectors like banking and finance, which have been seeing women at senior levels for a few years, e-commerce and technology services are also seeing more women, she adds. Another motivator could be the increase in the number of young women getting into start-ups and entrepreneurial situations, says Mahajan.

Moreover, with an increasing number of multinational companies setting up their offices in India and strengthening the support system for women in the form of flexible work policies, work from home, sabbatical and sometimes even corporate sponsorship, there is this growing trend of women professionals wanting to up-skill, said experts. "Gender is very much a part of agenda for the MNCs outside and they are bringing it to India as well," says Mahajan.

Source: The Economic Times, November 11, 2014
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Monday, November 10, 2014

Only 37% graduates employable, women beat men

An assessment of 300,000 students across 29 states and seven Union territories has found only 37% to be employable with women candidates faring better than men. This is an improvement from last year when the tests found only 34% of the candidates employable. The survey showed that 38% women candidates were employable compared to 34% among males. These are the finding from the India Skill Report (ISR) compiled by human resource consulting firms Wheebox, PeopleStrong, Linked-in and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The top states with employable skill pool were Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala and Karnataka. These states have held their positions from last year while U.P, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Orissa have joined the list this year.

"We found that skill levels across states have moved up. What is heartening is that states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which were not there in the top states list have come in," said Nirmal Singh, founder and CEO of Wheebox.

On the demand side an overall increase of about 23% is expected in the hiring numbers per month. The job outlook confirms that there is an expectation of a growing market in the coming years. An acceleration in economic growth and new projects coming on stream are expected to have a positive impact on the hiring outlook.

Hospitality and travel lead the way, followed by banking, financial services and insurance and core sectors where this increase is more than 25% compared to last year's numbers, according to the survey. Apart from other manufacturing (excluding auto, consumer goods and durables,), pharma and healthcare and telecom, almost all other sectors expect an increase of more than 10% in monthly hiring numbers.

Spread of hiring is no longer restricted to few states. States with maximum hiring activity were Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, UP, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh. Preferred states for operating in India were Maharashtra , followed by Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

The survey found that an increasing number of candidates from the talent supply side are looking for apprenticeship. This number increased to 76% compared to 55% last year.

While test takers from arts domain experienced a substantial increase in the employability as compared to last year (from 19.1% to 29.8%), there were few domains such as B.Com., B.Sc., ITI and polytechnic where this number dropped by about 1-3%, the report showed. "This shows that areas like arts, commerce and polytechnics should receive special focus. With new skill development activities being introduced by the government to increase employment; an inclusive plan with focus on these domains would be impactful," the report said.

In the age segment, 18-21 years were the most employable, continuing the trend from last year. Across age groups there has been a considerable increase in the employability,18-21 years 39.4%, 22-25 years 34%, 26-29 years 30%.

Compared to last year, this year there has been an increase in number of candidates, who are expecting an annual salary of Rs. 260,000 and above. About 7% expected a compensation of Rs. 260,000 this year compared to last year 0.1%.

The preferred areas of work were Chennai, the national capital region, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad.

The overall gender ratio across industry sectors has shown some improvement from last year. While last year the male to female ratio stood at 76:24, this year it was 68:32. .

Sectors which have more than a third of their workforce female are: banking, financial services and insurance, business process outsourcing /IT enabled services, pharma and healthcare, and telecom.

Source: The Times of India, November 10, 2014
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Thursday, November 06, 2014

India to introduce credit transfer system for students on 11 November

After four years of debate, India will start a credit transfer system next week that will make it easier for students and working professionals to switch between education and jobs. On 11 November, observed as the National Education Day in India, the government will launch the credit equivalent framework from Class 9-12 level and will extend this till the PhD level in January, human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Zubin Irani said on Wednesday.

“We do not have a credit transfer system within our country that enables the migration of labour across the country,” she told delegates at a panel discussion at the India Economic Summit, organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The move will help individuals who leave formal education for a job to resume studies. The credit transfer system would facilitate people “get back to the education system as and when they desire”, said Irani reflecting on her own experience where she had to drop out to continue working.

She said her ministry has also advised universities that run directly under the union government to adopt the credit transfer system; a similar effort was earlier made by former HRD minister Kapil Sibal, but it remained a non-starter.

Irani, who was on a panel at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit, also focused on skills, one of the themes of this year’s conference, and an area of concern for both policymakers and industry.

Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson and editorial director of HT Media Ltd, also part of the same panel, said there is a talent conundrum in India. “Though we talk about the huge demographic dividend that India enjoys, there are people without jobs and jobs without people.” Mint is published by HT Media Ltd.

Irani said her ministry would like to improve the “employability” of university graduates who are often branded as unemployable by industries. She announced that the government is asking universities to set up placement cells so as to encourage a dialogue between job seekers and job providers on the required skills sets.

India has nearly 35,800 colleges, over 600 universities and more than 11,000 stand-alone professional institutions such as engineering and management schools. Together, they prepare 29.6 million students for the workforce. Only, much of this preparation remains on paper; companies say the challenge is to get job-ready students.

Irani said she is open to work with the labour ministry, which trains students for shopfloor jobs at its Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). This is key to reviving manufacturing in India, one of the aims of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that has launched a Make in India campaign.

The key to employability is to ensure good teachers, good curriculum and good software in schools, said Uday Kotak, executive vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, also part of the panel. “The focus should be on getting software into schools rather than disproportionately pushing hardware,” Kotak said, emphasizing that the focus needs to be on intellectual capital and not on physical infrastructure.

Irani said that her government is working on a national education policy that it will unveil next year. Her ministry is working with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to provide free online courses. Only, instead of these being only delivered online, these will be provided on a hybrid model — both online and offline, she explained.

Education and employability can‘t be seen as separate issues, said Rituparna Chakraborty, senior vice-president of staffing company TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd and president of Indian Staffing Federation, an industry body. “The linear model of education that focus on only churning out degree holders need to change. Instead, businesses may insist on vocational education certified candidates and pay them due premium. Allowing students and professionals to seamlessly move across verticals—education and job market would do good both to the industries and academic institutions,” said Chakraborty. The credit transfer system, if implemented, will do just that.

Source: Mint, November 6, 2014
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