Education: Employed Significantly: Addressing Policy Gaps in Our Higher Education Sector
The World Economic Forum declares that “the Fourth Industrial Revolution blurs the lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds with advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing and other technologies. It was in 2016. We can see it in reality now.
If the various chatbots that handle customer queries on websites are not sufficient proof for a layman of the use of AI, the self-driving cars already sold should be sufficient visual proof for it.
Against this background, it is natural to think that our higher education sector is ready to prepare students for this digital world.
The answer to this question will be a “yes” and a “no” at the same time.
“Yes” because many institutes around the country have easily proven that the industry has talent that is at the backbone, if not at the forefront of emerging technologies. Many foreign companies, both technological and operational, have benefited from the talent that our country has produced. This can be seen in the number of those companies that have established their campuses in India not only in one location, but in many, in many cases.
Many of these talented people are sent overseas to their main campuses because of the spark these companies see there.
However, such cases do not dominate the statistics. While actual statistics are hard to come by, it can be said that the Pareto Principle, 80-20 rule, can be considered to be largely in play here. The 20% of the best talents benefit from it and, in turn, companies benefit greatly, thus strengthening the credibility of the institutes from which the students come. This builds a beautiful symbiotic triad between the student, the institutes and the companies.
The remaining 80%, in general, end up on the less bright side, with many of them not ending up in a job. If they end up having one, it can prove to be unreliable. Major institutes in the country such as IIM, IIT, NIT, NLUS, etc. will need to be phased out as a huge percentage of their students, if not all, will be covered by the 20% discussed above.
It is therefore on these 80% of students that decision-makers and institutes must concentrate. The general and obvious question to think about would be “How to increase the significant levels of employability of higher education students?” ”
A more important question would emerge if we consider the data of graduates versus postgraduates. The graduate to graduate ratio is much lower than it should be. Again, this is for the same reason discussed above – significant post-graduation career opportunities for a good percentage of graduates. Although the problem / reason is the same, the result / result is a much bigger cause for concern. Research in various fields is carried out by postgraduate graduates / doctoral students. The less we can inspire students to continue their studies, the more our research capacities will suffer. The results are there for everyone to see. Few of our universities are ranked among the best in the world.
Solving this problem will benefit in various ways. Students are inspired to embark on graduate studies which leads to better research in institutes thus improving the reputation of our universities across the world which would attract more companies to hire in these institutes which in turn inspires more students to continue their studies – a huge positive loop. While easy to visualize, performing this is where the devil is. This cannot be achieved by an institute of excellence operating alone. It requires a unified vision and plan for the country as a whole, which must be pushed and executed by the central government as a top priority. It’s the 75th year of Independence and it’s never late to start a good deed.
Ramnath Kanakadandi, National Director of the CAT Course, TIME