Dr Arindam Das tells you the importance of soft skills in order to fill the employment gap
A 2014 McKinsey Report states that in the organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries more than one in eight of all 15 to 24-year-olds are unemployable. This entry-level unemployability is due to the skill-gap that is markedly evident between the supply end of the education sector and the demand end of the organisation sector. This lack of industry readiness calls for special attention and intervention from the end of the educators to positively impact the performance of the youth at their entry point in the industry, and even later. This skill-gap is more so at the level of soft-skills of the youth.
In case of a contemporary MBA programme in India, the interesting amalgamation of business know-how and its hard skills factor, even has enough room for making the students industry-ready through various soft skills factors. We must bear in mind that education in itself, is an independent process of learning. However, it is linked to employability. Most employers at the time of making hiring decisions evaluate not just what has been learned from the program academically, but also evaluate parameters such as positivity, ability to multi-task, flexibility, ability to work in teams, leadership quality, professionalism, time management, customer orientation and relationship nurturing, culture sensitivity, attitudinal adoption to change, verbal communication and presentation skills.
An arduous MBA programme, from any reputed institution, would provide students not just excellent classroom based learning, but hand down sufficient exposure to real-time learning, through case studies, role plays, live projects, presentations and research opportunities. In the process, every student is given a platform to improve their overall communication and presentation skills. Also, during the tenure of the program, there are several opportunities for the students to meet and interact with industry personnel, who would enrich their learning through their growth trajectories. Learning through observation and internalisation is also a key source for MBA aspirants to pick up aspects such as body language and etiquette which are integral to a successful corporate stint.
There are MBA programmes both in the country and outside, which have dedicated modules on enhancing student preparedness to meet corporate needs. These modules encompass topics such as general awareness, quantitative abilities, language competence and mock interview sessions. Across sectors, organisations are in need of resources who are not just tech savvy but astute strategists who can drive the businesses towards greater profitability. With immense competition and supply of graduates being high, the demand for skilled workers has only increased over time. So, what exactly does a skilled worker mean?
A skilled worker in today’s times is not just a subject matter expert, but also an individual with varied interests and at the core, an excellent people’s person. Formal higher education today is a very challenging area as it is imperative for institutions to recognise the need of the hour and give very high importance to shaping an individual’s overall personality. The MBA programme per se, has all the ingredients in-built to enable students to improve on their soft skills. The curriculum invariably is highly flexible with inputs from both academicians and industry experts who create the right mix of theory and application. Classroom based learning is complemented with application based learning and at regular intervals, students are exposed to real-time projects which require great soft skills to be on display.
In conclusion, the MBA of today is a programme which encapsulates effective time management, teamwork and dedicated efforts to realise intrinsic aspirations. The aspirations however vary from a good job to doing a business or perhaps taking up research. Irrespective of what it is, the MBA definitely acts as a catalyst in holistically transforming lives and enhancing capabilities not just in taking businesses ahead but also in shaping one’s own personality and general outlook towards life.
The writer is Associate Professor, Alliance University