The new age college students are savvy and ambitious. They want their academic years to be fruitful in their quest for their chosen careers and plan to land a placement by their graduation day, not just a degree. Most of them are ardently pursuing an extracurricular interest and looking to build their profiles beyond their academics.

And almost every job description these days calls for relevant exposure or demonstrated passion and interest for the career stream, even in starting out roles. With the interview process becoming more detail oriented, recruiters now spend a lot of time analysing the candidates overall profile, reducing the focus on academics in the entire hiring process. They may want fast thinkers, or quick learners, or detailed oriented folks.

They might be looking for analytical skills or creative thinking neither of which is clear from one’s grades. In short, now, good grades aren’t enough to crack that coveted career. The information era clearly calls for “enabled employability” via adding to the repertoire of skills fresh college graduates are likely to have.

Even for colleges, in a highly competitive career landscape, placement and employment metrics are what can help them attract the right students to their campuses. There is a set path that students need to follow to excel in academics.

There is the skill development, concept based learning, course curriculum, employability training pogrammes and information from your peers and seniors. However, time and again, students have realised that the gap from academic success to employability is hard to bridge. The four key requirements are as follows:

  • Skill development: This is necessary from a young age and how it should evolve according to the student’s age to create ideal employees in the 21st century. In the changing world scenario with regard to industry and the job market, there is now an overpowering need for skilled workers. India is relatively young as a nation with around 28 million youth population being added every year. More than 50 per cent of its population is below the age of 25 and more than 65 per cent are aged below 35. In 2020, the average age of an Indian will be expectedly 29 years, while it will be 37 for China and 48 for Japan.
  • Course curriculum: Effective course design begins with understanding your students, deciding what you want them to learn; determining how you will measure their learning; and planning activities, assignments and materials that support student learning.
  • Employability training programmes: This gives fresh people the opportunity to develop their employability through two different blocks of targeted training. Such participation will help young people understand the expectations of employers in both the recruitment process and as a new employee in the workplace. Courses will equip them with pre-employment skills and prepare them to meet the expectations of employers. Also, courses will focus on job preparation and will equip with advanced job hunting skills, career development, interview skills and the opportunity to participate in industry awareness experiences. It will provide young people with an insight into the tasks and duties of different industries. Young people can do one or both of the courses.
  • Concept based learning: A concept-driven education focuses on developing an effective approach to teaching and learning; empowering young people or a lifetime of learning, independently and in collaboration with others and preparing a community of learners that engage with global challenges through inquiry, action, and reflection. Concept based instructions introduces a student to universal students as well as parents need to understand and accept the fact that a year old candidate in any particular industry will bear latest experience than someone who have a quality experience of 15 to 20 years.

Individuals need to understand the relevance of both quality and quantity experience. If scanned through the recent updates, not only degrees with higher grades but also skill based learning has been laid an equal importance. This has given a huge amount of scope to e-leaning that enhances skills and practical knowledge rather than theoretical and bookish languages.

At a first level, one needs to have a familiarity with the chosen career — what are the nuanced differences between various roles? What are the career paths? What is the lifestyle and worklife balance like?

At a second level, a student needs to have an informed, equipped and unbiased decision to ace their chosen careers. The engagement can be as brief as sharing a podcast with relevant insights, or as intense as multiple hours of workshops on skills training, depending on the candidate’s need.

(The writer is founder, Perspectico)