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Students usually enroll in higher education institutes for earning an academic qualification or degree, gain appropriate skills and to step into the corporate world via employment opportunities. The purpose of the study is to find out student’s perceptions about which skills are important to attain for job while they are studying. Also, to find employer’s perceptions about most important skills required in the future employees. The study findings reveal that skill gap exist between employers and students’ perceptions of the skills and traits critical for securing employment. Based on literature review, skills important for employment were identified and grouped under three categories namely technical skills, non-technical skills and behavioral skills. Through the use of structures questionnaires, both students and HR Executives were asked to rate all the skills on a Likert scale of 1(least important) to 5(most important). Based on the mean scores of the ratings, a ranking order was established to ascertain the skill gap. Another major finding of the study was to determine which skills are more important for employers so as to on which students should focus on acquiring to be better prepared for the job market. The study also provides recommendations to close the gap between the skill gaps identified in the study. These steps must be taken simultaneously by all the stakeholders involved in the higher education i.e. Students, higher education institutions and corporate employers.
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Analyzing Skill Gap between Higher Education and Employability
Ms. Charu Sarin
Assistant Professor, Delhi Institute of Advanced Studies
Abstract
Students usually enroll in higher education institutes for earning an academic qualification or
degree, gain appropriate skills and to step into the corporate world via employment
opportunities. The purpose of the study is to find out student’s perceptions about which skills are
important to attain for job while they are studying. Also, to find employer’s perceptions about
most important skills required in the future employees. The study findings reveal that skill gap
exist between employers and students’ perceptions of the skills and traits critical for securing
employment. Based on literature review, skills important for employment were identified and
grouped under three categories namely technical skills, non-technical skills and behavioral skills.
Through the use of structures questionnaires, both students and HR Executives were asked to
rate all the skills on a Likert scale of 1(least important) to 5(most important). Based on the mean
scores of the ratings, a ranking order was established to ascertain the skill gap. Another major
finding of the study was to determine which skills are more important for employers so as to on
which students should focus on acquiring to be better prepared for the job market. The study also
provides recommendations to close the gap between the skill gaps identified in the study. These
steps must be taken simultaneously by all the stakeholders involved in the higher education i.e.
Students, higher education institutions and corporate employers.
Keywords
Behavioral Skills Education, Employability, Non-Technical Skills, Skills Gap, Technical Skills
Introduction
One of the main objectives of higher education is to enable the students find suitable
employability opportunities after completion of the course. It is the expectations of students from
the higher education institutions to train them and equip them with all the relevant knowledge,
experience and skills to get a good job and to excel at their jobs.
It is the responsibility of the Universities and higher education institutes to develop and upgrade
their curriculum to match the industry requirements. On the other hand, employers are seeking a
diverse range of skills in new graduates to gain a competitive advantage (Birrell, 2006). It is
expected that by 2022, 600 million skilled workers will be required to meet the needs of the
growing Indian economy. But India's performance on the employment and education front has
only been below average. Although India has grown into a knowledge economy, still
unemployment is a big challenge. There is a skills shortage in the country.
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In the current challenging economic situation, it is no longer sufficient for a new graduate to
possess only academic knowledge, it is increasingly necessary for the students to gain more
employability skills which will enhance their prospects of employment.
A holistic approach is required to transform the higher education system in terms of its approach
and vision. Graduate and post-graduate should be instilled with job-specific skills in addition to
academic excellence to make them 'job-ready'. It is essential to create job opportunities for
overall growth of the economy.
Government Initiatives
Indian government has taken several initiatives to bridge employability skill gap in students.
Many organizations, institution and agencies have been established for the same. Some of them
are:
1. National Vocational Education Qualification Framework an initiative by Human
Resource Development Ministry (MHRD), India. The framework aims at developing a
pool of skilled professionals and providing opportunities to start doing job just after
completing intermediate. Through this framework, schools, vocational institutes and
colleges will be linked together with one system and will provide placement assistance.
Emphasis will be on courses and programs in agriculture, BPO, construction,
infrastructure, finance, banking and tourism by providing vocational degree and diploma
every year.
2. National Skill Development Corporation it was set as a public-private partnership
(PPP) to catalyze the skills landscape in India. Main objectives are to upgrade skills to
international standards through significant industry involvement and develop necessary
frameworks for standards, curriculum and quality assurance, to enhance support and
coordinate private sector initiatives for skill development and to play a role of market
maker.
3. National Skill Development Corporation aims to bridge the industry academia gap by
integrating skill-based trainings into the academia cycle of the university. It currently
works with 21 universities, UGC and AICTE
4. National Skill Development Fund it was set up by Government of India in 2009 for
raising funds both from government and non-government sector for skill development.
5. Skill Development Bureau arranges investment for harnessing the country’s
demographic dividend.
Reasons for Gap
It has been observed that higher education system and skilling programmes works in isolation
with each other. There is insufficient congruence between policy makers in educational institutes
and the hiring requirements in corporate sector. Moreover, students are not aware of what to
expect after moving from college to the workplace. This lack of integration between students,
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higher educational institutes and corporate is the main reason for low employability of the
students. This leads to higher unemployment and low workforce retention in corporate.
Employees feel pressured and dissatisfied with the jobs as they are not trained to work in such
environments possessing appropriate skill set. Lastly, higher education institutes are unable to
get all the students placed in good companies with good packages, thus affecting their future
admissions and reputation.
Students are not aware of the skills which employers regard with high importance. When
students appear for job interviews, they are not fully prepared and perform poorly. Recruiters
regard relevant job-related knowledge to be more important than academic knowledge. There is a
lack of communication from recruiters to the institutes in terms of what skills are important for
them, due to which institutes are unable to train their students appropriately.
Hence, it is a need of all the stakeholders to come together and close the gaps between student
perceptions and employers’ expectations while higher education institutes acting as a bridge
between the two sides.
Literature Review
Employability is a critical issue for both Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and corporate. The
higher education’s obligation is to lay the foundations for a lifelong commitment by students for
learning and their professional development (West, 1998). This will enable a positive attitude
towards learning. The universities have a full control on the curriculum design and
implementation. It is their main responsibility to prepare their students with a more
comprehensive range of skills (Albin and Crockett, 1991; Hall, 1998; Mathews, 2000). As a
response, Universities have taken several corrective measures by developing and articulating
policies and frameworks and by creating institutions specifically to cater to these problems.
Many a times, fresh graduates are not fully prepared to begin professional practice as they show
a poor performance in job interviews. Possession of good academic qualifications is not enough
to secure good employment (Yorke, 2006). Employers have additional expectations from the
students in terms of having well developed employability skills. Students are required to
undertake a series of skills activities and psychometric tests, and to produce a personality profile
while applying for the new-age jobs (Graduate Prospects, 2009). This will enable them to make
an immediate contribution to the workplace after recruitment (Confederation of British Industry,
2008). From a different perspective, it is not necessary that students who have not attained good
academic qualifications are not employable. Employers give a lot of weightage to graduates with
good employability skills (Denholm, 2004; Morley et al., 2006; Morley and Aynsley, 2007).
There is an increased current trend of placing increased emphasis on key skills. Consequently,
the Higher Education Institutes’ curriculum must incorporate opportunities to develop such skills
in conjunction with subject specific skills and knowledge. This ought to enhance applicants’
potential for success in the recruitment process by making them ‘business ready’ graduates.
Students must be able to hone their capabilities to make a dynamic start and rapidly adapt to
changing environment. Different academic programmes in different universities have started to
adopt various strategies like offering work experience, work-related learning and employability
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skills modules, and ‘ready for work’ events, as well as involving employers in course design and
delivery. In many cases, with employability skills already embedded in the curriculum,
universities employ a range of initiatives to make them more explicit to students (Cranmer,
2006).
It is imperative to find out the skills required by corporates for a successful career. Research has
attempted to differentiate between the broader generic skills, context-specific, technical and
practical skills (Crebert, 2002; Ashbaugh and Johnstone, 2000). In the literature, research has
focused on identifying gaps between the perceptions of academia and corporate regarding the
importance of various skills necessary for employment (Gilsdorf 1986; Levenburg 1996;
McFadden, Jansen, and Towell 1999). Research has also been done to identify the skills sought
by employers to provide suggestions for curriculum redesign. McFadden, Jansen, and Towell
(1999) suggest that increased interaction between the business community and the academic
community will be a major trend in the new millennium. Their findings indicate that the
academic community has begun to understand what businesses want from the graduates and are
getting involved in designing curricula to meet the needs of the business community.
Identification of skills and characteristics that employers’ value in applicants (Hakel and Schuh
1971; Powell and Posner 1983; Atkins and Kent 1988; Kanungo and Misra 1992). Fortune 500
recruiters focus on the candidate’s people skills with an assumption that graduates possess the
appropriate technical skills Kane (1993). Fortune 500 managers believe that, the technical skill
requirements needed for a position can differ across functional areas, while general skills and
personal characteristics are same across all functional areas (Martell and Carroll,1994).
Motivation/ambition are the most important attribute sought by employers (Drake, Kaplan, and
Stone, 1972). Some employers value communication skills above both grade point average and
work experience (Tschirgi’s, 1972). Oral communication skills are more important than written
communication (Maes, Weldy and Icenogle, 1997).
Research has also focused on exploring the link between the academia and students. It is the
strongest and longest of the three links. Students get exposure to faculty perceptions through
their classroom experiences over several years. Some students build connections with faculty
through student organizations. Faculty members have the highest influence on the students. They
tend to communicate their perceptions of the needs of the business community to the students.
Faculty perceptions can bias students’ opinions. There is a need to address the issue of whether
higher education institutions are adequately preparing students to succeed in curent highly
technical and global marketplace (Mandt 1982; Hildebrandt, Bond, Miller, and Swinyard 1982;
Behrman and Levin 1984; Hahn, Mabert, and Biggs 1984; Houshyar 1990; Harris 1994).
Following the trends discussed in the literature, university and industry training have
traditionally failed to develop the skills and traits necessary for success in business. More
recently, business schools have failed to improve students’ oral and written communication skills
(Clarke and Franklin 1985; Atkins and Kent 1988; Buckley, Peach, and Weitzel 1989; Harris
1994; McEwen 1997; Levenburg 1996). Studies propose transitioning from theoretical teaching
to a more applications-oriented approach (Buckley, Peach, and Weitzel 1989; Hammond,
Hartman, and Brown 1996; McFadden, Jansen, and Towell 1999). Some research indicates that
programs should concentrate on management development instead of quantitative skills
(Behrman and Levin 1984; Buckley, Peach, and Weitzel 1989; Levenburg 1996). It has been
suggested that operations management programs lack focus on various technical skills, such as
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management information systems (Berry and Lancaster 1992; Mueller and Ma 1999). It is
essential to place greater emphasis on the use of computer-based tools and embed stronger MIS
skills into the curriculum. Higher education institutes must make an effort to understand ongoing
and future trends, to receive feedback from the business community and in turn allows these
institutes to improve the performance and marketability of their students.
The link between the students and the corporate is the weakest of the three links. Most students
have little or limited interaction with the business community prior to graduation. They should
be encouraged to gain exposure during work-related experiences such as internships. Students
can interact with business managers along with classroom experiences.
Objectives
1. To study the perceptions of students about which skills are required for employment.
2. To study the perceptions of employers about which skills are required for employment.
3. To analyze the skill gap based on differences between skill perceptions of students and
employers.
4. To provide recommendations for closing the identified skill gap.
Research Methodology
Based on literature review, skills important for employment were identified and grouped under
three categories namely technical skills, non-technical skills and behavioral skills.
Technical skills refer to technology or domain-based knowledge. These skills will enable the
employees to execute the functional tasks on the job and are directly helpful for carrying out the
work. These include Word processing, Spreadsheets, Databases, Computer Literacy, Project
management, Presentations, Inventory management, Quality management, Forecasting, Resource
planning, Telecommunication and Quantitative analysis.
Non-Technical skills are more generic or broad-based skills that are desirable for completing
daily tasks efficiently. These are more of general business skills. These include Communication
skills, Problem-solving skills, Learning Agility, Team-building skills, Adaptability, Time
management skills, Leadership skills, Ability to Work independently, Interpersonal skills and
Negotiation skills.
Behavioral skills are inherent personality traits or qualities of an individual. They include skills
such as being Ethical, Responsible, Flexible, Motivated, Enthusiastic, Risk Taker, Compliant,
Intelligent, Confident, Self-confident, Persistent, Creative, Rational, Perfectionist, Curious,
Technical, Extrovert, Aggressive, Visionary and Compromising. The individual items for general
skills, technical skills, and personality characteristics were based on the literature (Levenburg
1996; Maes, Weldy, and Icenogle 1997).
First a pilot study was conducted with a sample of 35 students to assess its face validity. All the
ambiguous words were removed.
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The final study was conducted in two parts. In first part, primary data was collected from 230
graduate and post- graduate students in Delhi- NCR using convenience sampling. It was done
using a structured questionnaire. For the second part of the study, primary data was collected
from 50 HR (Human Resource) executives in Delhi- NCR. These HR executives are responsible
for recruitment from higher education institutes.
Both students and HR Executives were asked to rate all the three types of skills on a Likert scale
ranging from 1(least important) to 5(most important) to indicate how important it is for
employers or prospective employees respectively to have these employability skills.
Secondary data was taken from various reports, journal articles and websites of Ministry of
Human Resource Development (MHRD), AICTE, UGC etc.
Analysis
Part I: Analyzing Student’s Perception of Skills Gap
Demographics of Respondents:
Table 1: The demographic profile of the Student respondents is as follows:
S. NO.
DEMOGRAPHIC
CATEGORIES
% OF TOTAL
RESPONDENTS
1
Age (Years)
21 Or Below
33
22-24
30
Above 24
37
2
Gender
Male
51
Female
49
3
Qualification
Undergraduate
33
Graduate Only
37
Post-Graduate or Above
30
Out of the total respondents, 33% were Undergraduate, 37% were Graduates and 30% were post-
graduate students. In terms of gender, 51% male and 49% females participated in the research.
The data collected was quite balanced in terms of representation from different categories.
Table 2: Student Rankings for Non-Technical Skills
Non-Technical Skills
Communication skills
Problem-solving skills
Learning Agility
Time management skills
Team-building skills
Leadership skills
Adaptability
Interpersonal skills
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The students perceived the following ranking order for Non-Technical Skills, where most
required skill was Communication skills followed by Problem-solving skills, Learning Agility,
Time management skills, Team-building skills, Leadership skills, Adaptability, Interpersonal
skills, Negotiation skills and lastly Ability to Work independently. Students actively work on
improving their communication skills by joining various courses and a lot of inputs are also
given by the higher education institutes by conducting Personality Development Sessions etc.
Table 3: Student Rankings for Technical Skills
Technical Skills
Spreadsheets
Computer Literacy
Word processing
Databases
Presentations
Project management
Telecommunication
Resource planning
Forecasting
Inventory management
Quality management
Quantitative analysis
The students perceived the following ranking order for Technical Skills, where most required
skill was Knowledge of Spreadsheets followed by Computer Literacy, Word processing,
Databases, Presentations, Project management, Telecommunication, Resource planning,
Forecasting, Inventory management, Quality management and lastly Quantitative analysis. All
the curriculum at different levels of higher education includes the imparting of working
knowledge of spreadsheets through practical assessments.
Table 4: Student Rankings for Behavioral Skills
Behavioral Skills
Motivated
Responsible
Confident
Intelligent
Self-confident
Ethical
Flexible
Enthusiastic
Negotiation skills
Ability to Work independently
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Creative
Compliant
Persistent
Technical
Rational
Visionary
Curious
Aggressive
Compromising
Risk Taker
Perfectionist
Extrovert
The students perceived the following ranking order for Behavioral Skills, where most required
skill was Motivated followed by Responsible, Confident, Intelligent, Self-confident, Ethical,
Flexible, Enthusiastic, Creative, Compliant, Persistent, Technical, Rational, Visionary, Curious,
Aggressive, Compromising, Risk Taker, Perfectionist and lastly being an Extrovert. Higher
education institutes work in many ways to motivate their students by involving them in various
extra-curricular activities and also by interaction with personnel who have achieved success in
their lives.
Part II: Analyzing Employer’s Perception of Skills Gap
Demographics of Respondents:
Table 5: The demographic profile of the HR Executive respondents is as follows:
S. NO.
DEMOGRAPHIC
CATEGORIES
% OF TOTAL
RESPONDENTS
1
Industry
Marketing
40
Financial Services
30
Human Resources
15
Information Technology
15
2
Size of
Organization
Under 1000 Employees
45
1000 Employees and Above
55
3
Average Starting
Salary of
Employees
(Monthly)
Under 25,000
30
25,001-35,000
40
Above 35,000
30
Respondents of the research are a good mix of different industries and reflect an overall view of
the corporate hiring trends. 40% HR executives belonged to Marketing related companies, 30%
in Financial Services, 15% in Human Resources and 15% in Information Technology sector.
Table 6: HR Executive Rankings for Technical Skills
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Technical Skills
Word processing
Spreadsheets
Databases
Computer Literacy
Project management
Presentations
Inventory management
Quality management
Forecasting
Resource planning
Telecommunication
Quantitative analysis
The HR Executives perceived the following ranking order for Technical Skills, where most
required skill was Word processing followed by use of Spreadsheets, Databases, Computer
Literacy, Project management, Presentations, Inventory management, Quality management,
Forecasting, Resource planning, Telecommunication and lastly Quantitative analysis.
Table 7: HR Executive Rankings for Non-Technical Skills
Non-Technical Skills
Communication skills
Problem-solving skills
Learning Agility
Team-building skills
Adaptability
Time management skills
Leadership skills
Ability to Work independently
Interpersonal skills
Negotiation skills
The HR Executives perceived the following ranking order for Non-Technical Skills, where most
required skill was Communication skills followed by Problem-solving skills, Learning Agility,
Team-building skills, Adaptability, Time management skills, Leadership skills, Ability to Work
independently, Interpersonal skills and lastly Negotiation skills.
Table 8: HR Executive Rankings for Behavioral Skills
Behavioral Skills
Ethical
Responsible
Flexible
10
Motivated
Enthusiastic
Risk Taker
Compliant
Intelligent
Confident
Self-confident
Persistent
Creative
Rational
Perfectionist
Curious
Technical
Extrovert
Aggressive
Visionary
Compromising
The HR Executives perceived the following ranking order for Behavioral Skills, where most
required skill was being Ethical followed by being Responsible, Flexible, Motivated,
Enthusiastic, Risk Taker, Compliant, Intelligent, Confident, Self-confident, Persistent, Creative,
Rational, Perfectionist, Curious, Technical, Extrovert, Aggressive, Visionary and lastly
Compromising.
Part III: Analyzing Skills Gap
It can be observed from the previous tables that there is a clear gap between the perceptions of
the students and HR executives. This gap reflects that there is a significant difference between
opinions of the students and higher education institutes from the corporate.
In terms of Technical Skills, Students feel that use of spreadsheets would be most important at
job while HR executives believe that Word processing is most important. Based on the nature of
job, employees are required to create a lot of training documents and word files for the normal
course of work. Spreadsheets are also important as employees need to collate a lot of data and
analyze it to further use them for reporting. Students perceive Computer literacy to be second
highest important skill as it is extensively taught in the classrooms. Even on job it is an important
skill as now a days most of the work is being done using computers and these skills are a must.
Inventory management skills have been ranked by HR on seventh position while students ranked
it quite low at tenth position. It involves the ability to deal with the resources available for the
team and emphasize habits of pre-planning effectively. Similar gap exists for Quality
Management skills which refers to ensuring that quality of work, materials and people are well
taken care of. Students does not understand the importance of quality till the time they reach the
job place. The companies embed the culture of high quality amongst its employees. This can be
done by the institutes to make the students’ post-placement adjustment easier.
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In terms of Non-Technical Skills, both students and HR match in their perception of the top
three skills i.e Communication skills, Problem-solving skills and Learning Agility. Institutes also
work profusely towards enhancing the communication skills of student by providing them
training is soft skills, business etiquettes, group discussions, mock interviews, debate
competitions etc. Problem solving skills enables the students to handle different situations on the
job with confidence and zeal. Institutes impart these skills by involving students in various
events, committees, clubs etc. hence the balance is maintained.
The gap remains in few skills like Team-building skills. HR gives higher importance to it as
most of the work done is usually in teams and employees are expected to observe basic team
etiquettes. Students don’t perceive team work to be of higher importance, instead they perceive
that to be time management. HR ranked Adaptability skill to be of high importance as in the
corporate environment there is a requirement of a high degree of flexibility and employees must
be able to adapt quickly to any changes happening around them, whether in teams, projects,
departments, company policies, other regulations etc.
Students ranked Ability to Work independently as lowest as they feel that they will always be
given inputs and instructions from the seniors which they will simply follow, and the work will
be done. But, this is not true in the corporate as HR ranked it much higher. Employees are
expected to work independently without too much inputs, in fact they should come up with
innovative ideas and suggestions for improvement of the company.
In terms of Behavioral Skills, most important skill for HR is being ethical, while students placed
it on sixth rank. Companies are very cautious about their ethical practices and make lot of efforts
to imbibe ethical values in their employees by training programs and sessions. Any unethical
practices by a single employee can have bad repercussions for the image of the company.
Students have ranked being motivated as the top behavioral skill. This perception can be based
on the frequent interactions with their peers, faculty and industry people. It is mostly emphasized
that students should also feel motivated. Another deviation is with respect to Self-confident skill.
Students ranked it as fifth important skill while HR ranked it as tenth important skill. The
probable reason for this discrepancy is approach towards the job. HR believes that over a period
of time there is an improvement in the personality of all the employees after getting exposure to
the work culture and grooming by their mentors, so self-confidence will naturally percolate in
the employees.
Risk taking skill is ranked at sixth position by HR and at eighteenth position by students.
Students have low exposure to the realities of the world and are brought in a protected
environment usually. When they enter corporate world, the expectations from an employee are
different. They are supposed to be creative, innovative and discover new strategies, product
design or process flow to make the company different from their competitors. This can only be
done when employees are willing to take risk to try something new.
It can be concluded that among students and HR’s perceptions highest skill gaps exist in terms of
the behavioral skills. Institutes must devise a strategy to inculcate these behavioral skills among
the students to make them more compatible with corporate’s needs and expectations.
Part IV
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Recommendations: Closing the gap
Based on the views of HR executives and various reports published recently, the following
recommendations are made to close the gap between the skill gaps identified in the study. These
steps must be taken simultaneously by all the stakeholders involved in the higher education i.e.
Students, higher education institutions and corporate employers.
1. Students Role
Students should be pro-active in identifying the skills demand in the job market and equip
themselves with these skills by taking support and guidance from their teachers and
institutes.
Students must take employability tests seriously: they should continuously assess their
capabilities and enhance their skills over time to make them job-ready.
Students must be prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn.
Students should make an effort to keep a track of the current trends in the job market.
2. Higher Education Institutions Role
Higher Education Institutions must act as a bridge between students and corporate. Teachers
will act as facilitators or tools of execution. It should be the main responsibility of institutes
to make suitable arrangements for skill development in students as per market demand.
Teachers should be trained to enhance the student's employability capacity.
Soft skill programmes should be embedded in formal education: focus should be on
developing skills considered important by the corporates
Assessment programmes should be introduced within the course structure: Self-
assessment by students as per market standards will help them to assess their capabilities
critically and test their employability.
Opportunities for active learning must be created: through internships, study abroad in
student exchange programmes, more extra-curricular activities etc.
Adopt Business Simulation games-based Pedagogy: to give business students a taste of
various business issues by handling a virtual company
Encourage multimedia based teaching approach: to increase interest level of the students
Include real life case studies in the curriculum: to enable the students to understand and
implement management concepts easily.
Career Counseling should be made mandatory before the placements or hiring activity is
initiated
3. Corporate Employers Role
If businesses want to have better trained employees having the right skills set, they will need
to take a more active role in involving themselves with the students. They must open avenues
for student- interaction, teacher- interaction and more collaboration with the higher education
institutes.
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Corporate must offer some cost-effective educational solutions to meet their industry
needs: in form of free certification courses
Corporate should enable Students to be exposed to various career pathways prevalent in
industry: this will help students to have more clarity to align their career aspirations and
workforce needs.
Corporate can have interaction session of their workforce with teachers and students: for
directly addressing skills issues
Corporate can develop workforce-related educational experiences for students like job
shadowing, mentorship programs; arrange skills competitions, apprenticeships or
internships and tradeshows.
Corporate can also Sponsor a specific program with the University or institute that would
benefit them in the long run.
Corporate can sponsor education of selected bright economically weak students and later
offer them placement opportunities.
Conclusion
Students usually enroll in higher education institutes for earning an academic qualification or
degree, gain appropriate skills and to step into the corporate world via employment
opportunities. The purpose of the study is to find out student’s perceptions about which skills are
important to attain for job while they are studying. Also, to find employer’s perceptions about
most important skills required in the future employees. The study findings reveal that skill gap
exist between employers and students’ perceptions of the skills and traits critical for securing
employment.
Based on the mean scores of the ratings, a ranking order was established to ascertain the skill
gap. The findings suggest that among students and HR’s perceptions highest skill gaps exist in
terms of the behavioral skills. Institutes must devise a strategy to inculcate these behavioral skills
among the students to make them more compatible with corporate’s needs and expectations. The
skills gap is quite evident and there is a mismatch in expectations among students and employers.
Such findings indicate that there is a communication gap between universities and employers
that needs to be addressed to bridge the skills gap.
The study also provides recommendations to close the gap between the skill gaps identified in
the study. These steps must be taken simultaneously by all the stakeholders involved in the
higher education i.e. Students, higher education institutions and corporate employers.
The focus should be on creating a long-term plan of creating a skilled talent pool. The skilling
ecosystem in India has witnessed some great policy reforms which will create a stable platform
for all stakeholders. There is a need for an integrated academic system to provide holistic
learning as well as impart basic skill training. One cannot exist without the other. One needs a
simultaneous and complimentary acquisition of both knowledge and skills.
References
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Higher Education Academy.
... This implies the need to create a permanent monitoring system of changes related to the competence expectations of employers and to use the results of these analyses to modify the educational offer. The existing approach to monitoring the competencies of university graduates is most often retrospective in nature and is implemented on the basis of reports on the further career development of graduates prepared by career offices functioning at universities [5,6]. This article presents a proposal to enrich the existing approach with a current analysis of employer expectations, carried out on the basis of the analysis of job advertisements, thus allowing for quicker identification of important trends emerging in the labor market. ...
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Employers expect business school graduates to possess a wide and diverse range of competencies, because the conditions governing the operations of enterprises are subject to constant and dynamic change. Therefore, adjusting study programs to labor market requirements is one of the main challenges faced by higher education institutions, particularly business schools. Therefore, the expectations of potential employers have become an object of detailed study for most universities. The most frequently applied research approach adopted for such studies involves direct surveys of employer opinions, based on various types of questionnaires. An alternative method is textual analysis of job advertisements using analytical tools that automate the research process. The aim of this article is to identify the gap between the business education offer and the expectations of the labor market in Poland, as well as to show the possibility of using the analysis of the contents of job advertisements to identify employer expectations regarding the competencies of university graduates. The presented research is exploratory in nature, with four questions posed by the authors during the research process. The research is innovative with regard to Poland and in relation to graduates of business schools.
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Employers are seeking candidates with uniquely human, or “soft” skills to survive and thrive in their future careers. This article aims to illuminate the soft skills gap of STEM undergraduate students by understanding the soft skills that will be needed in the future of work and the soft skills that students are currently missing. These skills include teamwork, collaboration, leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, work ethic, persistence, emotional intelligence, organizational skills, creativity, interpersonal communication, and conflict resolution. To address this soft skills gap, this paper also explores various collaboration strategies between employers and academic institutions, such as working jointly on curriculum, raising awareness, establishing leadership support, and building communities of success. These can be implemented to enhance the soft skills capabilities of STEM undergraduate students entering the workforce. This qualitative research examined STEM employers’ perceptions of the most essential soft skills needed and missing among recently hired STEM undergraduates. Findings identified the top ten most in-demand soft skills needed for the next five years with leadership and human-connection on the top of the list. Furthermore, the result of this inquiry indicates that the soft skill gap in current STEM undergraduates is not only evident, but it is steadily increasing. To address this problem, this paper suggests that an ongoing synergy is needed between employers and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to guide students in developing and acquiring these essential skills. This effort will hopefully improve student employability, increase employer outcomes, and ultimately reduce the nationwide soft skills gap. Also, it provides insights into soft skills that organizations and HEIs should invest in the years ahead.
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This article reports on a study for the Higher Education Funding Council for England on the impact of employability skills teaching and learning on graduate labour market prospects. The findings of the study cast doubt on the assumption that these skills can be effectively developed within classrooms. Detailed information gathered at university department level is drawn on to assess how academics perceive and engage in the teaching and learning of employability skills. It is argued that, despite the best intentions of academics to enhance graduates employability, the limitations inherent within the agenda will consistently produce mixed outcomes. Furthermore, it is argued that resources would be better utilised to increase employment-based training and experience, and/or employer involvement in courses, which were found to positively affect immediate graduate prospects in the labour market and, therefore, support graduates in the transitional stage into employment.
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First year students, third year students and, possibly, their teachers agree that students are required to practise more skills than they receive credit for through assessment. First year students think that they are assessed on more skills than they are taught, but third year students believe the reverse. Third year students believe that they have been taught a greater number of skills than first year students and, possibly, more than their teachers think they have been taught. The differences between the third year and first year students include skills that must be developed by experiential learning-such as independent learning and problem solving skills. Amongst several explanations is the possibility that this, in part, is due to the two groups being at different stages in the experiential learning cycle. However, first year students may also not recognise such instruction unless it is overtly flagged. Staff and students agree that the development of skills 'that can be deployed in a wide variety of career-related situations' is an important outcome from a geographical education. Third year students rate skills in teamwork and public presentation as their most important learning outcomes as far as future career prospects are concerned.
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The notion of career-related aspects is presented as a potential framework for career decision-making and for assessing person–environment fit. The features of the aspects-based approach are described with reference to the two main stages of career decision-making—prescreening and in-depth exploration. Next, the distinction between the relative importance of aspects and the within-aspect preferences, the explication of career compromises, and the role of core aspects are discussed, and the findings of studies which used career-related aspects are reviewed. Then, the relations between aspects and interests and needs are discussed. Finally, the research and counseling implications of the aspects-based approach are explored.
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The list of skills required of graduating business students is continually revised to reflect the changing needs of students, academia, and industry. Curriculum changes intended to provide these skills have typically been made by business school faculty and administration in verbal, nonautomated meetings. This article describes an innovative, more effective and efficient method of determining the skills students need and appropriate curriculum changes. Advisory boards at the University of Georgia and the University of Mississippi used group decision support systems to discuss and rank requisite skills of business students. The findings of the two boards provide insights into the changing needs of industry and implications for academic programs.
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This paper is based on a research project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England which investigated employers' needs for information on higher education quality and standards. A key issue was identifying the type of knowledge that employers utilise in graduate recruitment. A finding of the study was that information on quality and standards was being used by some employers in a way that could undermine equity and widening participation initiatives. Whereas employers reported that, in initial recruitment, they placed least emphasis on information about quality and standards and most emphasis on graduates' interpersonal and communication skills, over a quarter used league tables/Top 20 lists in their decision-making processes and 80 per cent of employers cited the importance of the reputation of the higher education institution in their decision making about marketing and individual recruitment of graduates. Reputation was based on real or imagined league tables, ‘grapevine’ knowledge, personal, regional and professional networks, performance of past graduates and prejudice against new universities. The hierarchy of opportunity within the labour market often appeared to correspond to a highly stratified higher education sector.
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The purpose of this study is to determine whether there is a significant difference between employers and students on their perceptions of the importance of skills and traits critical for securing entry-level employment in operations management. Another major concern in this study is whether employers value general skills more than technical abilities. To address our research questions, a two-page questionnaire was developed. We found significant differences in mean scores between employers and students in their perceptions of the importance of general skills, technical skills, and personality characteristics. In addition, our findings indicate that employers value general skills significantly higher than technical skills. The results of this study provide a foundation for operations management programs in curricula reengineering and ultimately provide the business community with more qualified applicants.
Concern at rise in top degrees
  • P Baty
Baty, P. (2007) Concern at rise in top degrees. Times Higher Education Supplement 12 January 2007 p2
Considering the UK Honours degree classification method, a report for the QAA
  • J Denholm
Denholm, J. (2004) Considering the UK Honours degree classification method, a report for the QAA/SHEFC Quality Enhancement Theme Group on Assessment Edinburgh: Critical Thinking
Establishing the needs of employers and related organisations for information about the quality and standards of higher education provision and student achievement in England
  • L Morley
  • M Eraut
  • S Aynsley
  • D Macdonald
  • J Shepherd
Morley L., Eraut, M., Aynsley, S., MacDonald, D. and Shepherd, J. (2006) Establishing the needs of employers and related organisations for information about the quality and standards of higher education provision and student achievement in England. University of Sussex School of Education Report for HEFCE