Degrees don’t guarantee jobs or do they?

The purpose is not to undermine the value of higher education. But it is equally important to move beyond the need for degrees when hiring.

Do universities really help in getting you a job? If the placement figures from any of India’s premier institutions such as IITs and IIMs are any indication, then well apparently we do a jolly good job of it. Multi-million rupee/dollar salaries, fantastic stock options etc. make all the hard work worth it. But then, they only represent a tiny fraction yet highly publicised part of the workforce because of their paychecks. But, for the many millions of graduates out there who are not from an IIT or IIM, degrees don’t necessarily provide them with a job or the means to a job, and that’s worrying.

One could always argue that university education is meant to arm or equip oneself with the necessary tools that you will need in the real world of work. There was a time when becoming doctors, engineers, lawyers and CAs were considered the only milestones in the job market. They still are! Hence, there has been a massive mushrooming of medical and engineering colleges. There are more seats today than there are students. It also has led to the emergence of universities and colleges without great credentials. These hoards of graduates, postgraduates and doctorates then end up doing work that is not in their league. Surprised? Here’s something to consider:

* About 23 lakh people applied for 368 posts of peon in Uttar Pradesh last year—and among them were 1.5 lakh graduates, 24,969 postgraduates and 250 doctorates (Source: CNN-IBN).

  • Ten million Indians with graduate, postgraduate and technical degrees are looking for work, according to the 2011 Census. The literates were worse off than the illiterates.

On the other hand, the industry seems to suggest that there is a massive talent shortage in India. According to the ManpowerGroup’s 10th Annual Talent Shortage Survey in 2015, 38% of employers are having difficulty filling jobs globally—a two-percentage point rise from 2014. In fact, the report states that despite the impact to productivity and competitiveness, fewer employers are trying to solve the problem through effective talent strategies. The struggle to find the right talent still continues, as either there is a lack of applicants, experience or technical know-how. The right talent for the right job still seems to be the fundamental problem that HR faces even today. The emergence of startups like MeraJob is adequate proof of that.

In line with the vision of the Government of India to tackle the rampant unemployment problem, MeraJob joined hands with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) as a partner to provide best-fit jobs for candidates, who have been certified by NSDC skill development partners. Not only does the union provide jobs to many candidates, it also adds value in terms of providing many job opportunities in lieu of the skill sets they possess. It launched a series of innovative products to address hiring woes in the mid to low wage and low skill segments. The biggest hurdle in mass recruitment is the proper screening of candidates. MeraJob’s products captures and curates behavioural, preferential and skill related data for the right matches—the company combines data analytics with new-age thinking and digital marketing to create a credit bureau of good candidates for better match.

Picture this: Vikas had done everything that needed to be done before graduation. He worked his leads non-stop and sent his resume to scores of employers. Still, three months after graduation, he drew zilch. Nobody wanted to hire him. He was desperate. The pressure to get a job was huge and though he was happy for his friends, Vikas couldn’t but help feel jealous. He didn’t have the fancy job that he thought he could get once he finished his MBA. He comes across an advertisement of a local KFC looking for someone to fill a vacancy. What does he do?

We ourselves have come across this scenario many times. Either you know someone who has been through this, or you yourself have gone through this or you’ve hired someone like Vikas. It is not like his profile was deficient or that there was something wrong with him. He either did not fit the role or they didn’t want him. But, he doesn’t know what to do. He too has the same degree like his friends. So, what was the problem? That was precisely the problem. He was just like everyone else. There was nothing unique about him. Why would the recruiters hire Vikas when they can get someone else with a little extra talent for, say, another language? In this era of social media and instant living, you will need much more than your degree to be the “right talent” that companies look for. It is also prudent to be multi-talented or skilled so that you can safeguard yourself against any shocks such as layoffs or being stuck in a bad job.

So, what’s the answer? Is it Skill India, employability or quality of education?

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