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Not just grades, even soft skills count in job market: Leadburg-MTHR survey

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The Times of India | Aditi Gyanesh | TNN |  Jun 7, 2017 |

Bengaluru: Gone are the days when impressive scores alone could land one a job in a multinational firm. Employers are now looking beyond maths and science grades to assess whether a candidate fits the bill. Soft skills like ability to learn and communicate, goal-setting and writing proficiency are as essential as subject knowledge.  HR professionals questioned as part of the latest Leadburg-MTHR Soft-Skills Priorities in Employability Survey said non-cognitive behavioural skills are as important as domain and technical skills. However, prospective employees focus only on domain skills because they think only those are required for a job.  But employers believe otherwise. According to them, domain skills can be imparted through training, but without core behavioural skills like learning ability, adaptability, loyalty and creativity, the process becomes very tough.  Three-fourth of the 100-odd HR professionals and chief human resource officers (CHROs) questioned said the poor quality of education in engineering and technical colleges and faculty affects candidates’ ability to meet the requirements of companies.  “The survey was about entry and mid-level employees. In recent times, both these groups of people have been under immense pressure to show their worth. While at the entry-level, only 5% of the professionals are really employable, the mid-level segment faces retrenchment and relearning pressures. Thus, it is important make beginners realize the need for non-cognitive skills, which they often ignore. The survey shows the demands of companies,” said Sangeeth Varghese, founder of Leadburg which jointly conducted the survey with MTHR.  The deteriorating quality of fresh graduates has been reinforced by other surveys too. Of the 1.5 million students graduating every year, only about 5% (75,000) are really employable. Only around one lakh land jobs.
“The quality of education is deteriorating by the day, including in the engineering field. As far as engineering recruitments are concerned, there should be a national employability test for students who have completed the course and want to get employed, on the lines of GATE for MTech students. This will make students take engineering courses seriously,” said Venugopal KR, principal, University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering.  Experts also regret the lack of creativity and in-depth learning in the classroom. “When it comes to cracking interviews, students often fail because they lack technical knowledge about the product and how it can be improved. Soft skills are as important as other skills and we have a dedicated session on soft skills once a week,” said Dr Sanjay Chitnis, principal, CMR Institute of Technology.   Soft-skill trainer Swathi M said, “Students who are serious about recruitment know the importance of soft-skill training and take it seriously. Many even go for 6-10 months of training before the placement drive.”
Karnataka lags behind
Stakeholders in Karnataka point out the systemic deficiencies affecting the quality of fresh graduates. “We follow the VTU system where the syllabus is the same for students from both rural and urban areas, despite their requirements being different. Rural students are taught everything in the urban context and hence, don’t get a chance to resolve problems specific to them. As far as technological exposure is concerned, we are not on a par with other states like Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh. Our syllabus is very old and needs a revamp. In AP, students get more exposure to technology,” said Nageswara Guptha, vice-principal, SVCE College.
What recruiters want

*Hard skills for entry-level employees, soft skills for mid-level candidates.

*Ability to learn, responsibility and commitment top-three attributes for entry-level candidates.
*Communication skills, credibility and ability to set goals top-three attributes for mid-level employees .  – Source: Leadburg-MTHR survey – Courtesy
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