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To bridge the talent gap

Tanya Tulsyan |

According to recent statistics, approximately 64 per cent of school students today choose a major that does not fit with their academic strengths, orientations and interests, leaving them misaligned with the external world. To address these concerns and transform the way about their next steps, CogitoHub created a StudentNext Programme to make informed decisions regarding their courses, colleges or careers. It hence becomes necessary to choose not just the more successful option, but also what is correct for them as individuals. Kunal Sandhu, chief executive officer and founder, CogitoHub, talks about his endeavour to help misguided scholars. Excerpts:

Q Could you share about CogitoHub and your vision regarding the consultancy? This is a Talent Management and Assessment Company that uses predictive analytics, advanced algorithms and machine learning to create contextual outcomes for students and educators. These validated assessment tools are administered through our online platform to help students decide their “Next Steps” and to enhance educator capability. Our vision is to create a world where people are empowered to make choices that are right for them — whether it's choosing subjects and courses in school, selecting a university or curriculum in college or choosing the right careers and jobs. Simply put, we help people perform better. Q Who helped you in making your own course and career decisions? I was passionate about science in school and did electronics engineering. In retrospect, it wasn't necessarily the right choice because I might have been better placed to do a pure sciences or research course. I went on to do MBA, moving from a science to a commerce stream, and worked with Hindustan Unilever, Accenture and PepsiCo for 10 years, across different roles and domains in each of my stints. Today, I work in the space of talent management and assessments, which has a lot of humanities, analytics and technology, and as the CEO, I have managerial responsibilities. My career has been driven by my passions and acquisitions. It has taken me over 13 years of varied experiences to get here. I do think that if I had a scientific assessment that gave suggestive directional outputs, I would have realised my passion and started to create value a lot earlier. Q What processes and tests do you use to help people determine and understand their career choices? We have created a tech-enabled StudentNext tool to help students across grades VIII to XII recognise their true potential and decide their next steps. We do this by generating a unique StudentNextCode for each student that gives contextual outcomes by taking a well-rounded view of their behaviours, abilities, orientations and interests. The code evolves each time they take the assessment by including data from previous attempts, along with incorporating inputs from teachers and parents. An auto-generated, simple report is sent to the student. We also hold feedback sessions for schools wherein our trained counsellors take students through the reports in detail. We conduct career talks with experts from various fields and alternate paths to give students a holistic view. For grade XII, we host Career Clinics on CV building, writing and interview processes to help them crack their college applications for studying abroad. Q Apart from assessments, you also specialise in talent management. How does it work? The EduTalent programme empowers educators to recognise their potential by being assessed on competencies and measure their performance. This is done using validated tools that are enabled through alignment workshops, and administered on a technology enabled talent management platform. It aims to make the process more objective. A holistic assessment is done for the educators through self, superior, peer, and student feedbacks and in-classroom observations. We can modify the frameworks as per the needs of the school, and conduct only those assessments relevant to them. Today, we have 1,100 teachers on our EduTalent platform. Q How have your tests and evaluation methods been verified? Our assessments are constantly checked for validity and reliability by a team of psychologists. Validity indicates whether the test measures what it purports to. Reliability is the consistency with which a test measures any given skill, and thereby enables us to consistently distinguish between individuals. In other words, if it were feasible to test students repeatedly using the same test, a reliable test would yield a consistent score. Q Have colleges and schools reached out to you to help their students? How has the feedback been? We work closely with leading schools across the country and have assessed over 25,000 students so far. We have also tested several college students who have reached out to us through our online platform, and are currently building another tool directed specifically for college students and young professionals. We have collected feedback from students, parents and teachers to determine whether they are content with their choices and have found that 92 per cent of them are.