Monday, April 09, 2012

Making graduates more ‘employable'

Despite millions of college graduates joining the workforce every year, less than a quarter of them are seen as 'employable' by industry. Some entrepreneurs have sensed a business opportunity in this dreary situation. Ventures which test and highlight the employable skills of graduates, rather than mere scholastic aptitude, are coming up. These companies have introduced external testing services, which also serve to give students an insight into their strengths and weaknesses. Recruiters tap this database and select students with the required skill-sets from a larger pool than they could access earlier, helping more graduates bag jobs, these ventures say.

Co-founders of Common Job Test (CJT) Mr Prashant Pitti and Mr Govind Wakhlu say the aim is to remove the bias against students from lesser-known colleges and smaller cities. Mr Wakhlu, alumnus of Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, said, “Candidates are still judged on the basis of which colleges they go to. But college scores are not an indicator of how good an employee he or she will be.”

This is why they test students on other grounds such as business aptitude, language proficiency and people skills and the scores can be accessed by recruiters. Mr Pitti, who studied in IIT-Madras, said that this system results in higher conversion rates, besides making the recruitment process more financially viable for companies. He said students from over 750 colleges have already taken their test. CJT was started in September 2011. Their clientele includes Godrej & Boyce, Matrix Telecom and Business Wire India.

Aspiring Minds, started by MIT alumnus Mr Varun Aggarwal and IIT-Delhi graduate Mr Himanshu Aggarwal in 2008, also conducts similar standardised tests, following which students are given a detailed report on skills. Top companies such as HCL Technologies, MphasiS and Tata Motors among others use Aspiring Minds test scores to recruit freshers. Over 30,000 students take the test every month.

Employment Exchanges in colleges
Further, the company is setting up Employment Exchanges in colleges, which is likely to further expand their reach. These companies are aggressively targeting Tier-II and -III cities as well as B and C-list colleges because of the huge number of students.

The National Employability Report for engineering graduates finds that the difference between employability of students from Tier-I and Tier-II cities is often narrow. Thus, smaller cities provide an equally large pool of talent as the metros.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, April 9, 2012

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