Last week, IT Decisions ran a story headlined ‘75% of Indian IT graduates are unemployable’. It’s an arresting headline and one that provoked an interesting response - claims of misinformation and propaganda – on LinkedIn from Praveen Jha:
“Mark – What is your point in posing this sensation headlinet? (sic) Looking for some publicity, are we? I notice you forgot to mention today’s breaking news from Rio – 23 year old gunman…… the rest is too sad to post. Can that be extrapolated into suitability – as in safety concerns – of Rio/Brazil as an offshore outsourcing destination? Sensational Headline-ism ain’t gonna do it? LOL”
Praveen was most aggrieved by the headline, because the Nasscom report states that only 25% of graduates are readily employable. Whether you state that only 25% of graduates are readily employable or it is not possible to readily employ 75% of graduates doesn’t really matter in my opinion. The basic point remains that most fresh grads need additional training by employers and that costs Indian IT firms over $1bn at present.
But, let’s have a look at some of the issues Praveen raises, for the sake of following up on the comments he raised:
- A headline draws attention to a story. Clearly this one worked, though Praveen doesn’t like it because in his opinion it gives an unfair perspective on India. That’s just his opinion. Read the story. Make up your own mind.
- The gunman in Rio has nothing to do with the IT industry or education system in Brazil. There was another gunman attacking innocent people in the Netherlands at the weekend and there are so many gun-related incidents in the USA that most of them don’t even get reported beyond local news channels. It’s very poor taste to drag the death of several children into a debate about the relative merits of different IT industries.
- Brazil is not competing directly with India. This story was not an infantile attempt to belittle the IT industry in India, whilst waving a flag for Brazil. Check out our editorial approach. We focus on technology in Brazil whether it is good, bad, or ugly – we are not a trade promotion agency seeking to bash the competition at every opportunity.
The reality is that India has drifted along with this same educational situation for many years now. I published a book in 2004 that featured very similar research so the real issue is that things are not changing – the education system is only moving at a glacial pace towards producing the graduates that industry really needs.
Millions of graduates leave college in India each year and the IT industry only requires a few hundred thousand – the industry does not grow by millions each year. IT is seen as a desirable career, so many of the best graduates head towards the IT companies. It’s clearly not the case that major companies are hiring sub-standard graduates.
Where Nasscom has been most critical – and where IT Decisions agrees – is that the Indian education system requires more flexibility to allow curriculum development to be tied closer to the real world. Academia is not just about vocational training, there remains a need to offer deep analysis of a subject, but universities must remember that graduates have to eventually enter the real world – and be employable.
The real focus of our earlier story was somewhat missed in the criticism. It is far more usual for Brazilian students to start work immediately after high school, and to then take their college degree part-time. This gives a great advantage to those entering the IT industry because they have a combination of deep IT knowledge from university and practical experience from work.
It seems that this advantage is not being promoted as such by many here in Brazil, but it does address most of the issues faced by Nasscom. It’s not a perfect solution, but employers such as HSBC really appreciate the work experience their new graduates already have – and at the end of the day it’s those job offers that really count.
Photo by Tim Rich licensed under Creative Commons