Despite churning out a large number of graduates every year, India continues to carry the dubious distinction of being at the bottom rung of the global employability rankings. For a country that aspires to be a global superpower in the knowledge-driven economy, it is ironic that less than half of its graduates are employable. The recently released QS Graduate Employability Rankings, 2022, exposes India’s poor record and must serve as a wake-up call for the policymakers in the education sector. The fact that not a single institution of higher education could figure in the global top 100 highlights the sorry state of affairs and aptly sums up the employability crisis of Indian graduates. Only three IITs — Bombay, Delhi and Madras — find a place in the top 200 institutions across the world ranked according to the employability of students. Among the top 500 universities in the world, India accounts for only 12. The QS Graduate Employability Rankings offer a granular comparative examination of the work universities are doing to cultivate pathways into high-quality employment. They are rated on partnerships with employers, including internships, number of sectoral leaders among their alumni, frequency with which employers are present on campus, and a location-adjusted graduate employment rate. A country’s employability quotient significantly influences both the quantity and quality of investment. With consistently poor scores in all key parameters, it is also clear that India’s higher education leadership must strive to create stronger links with industry, facilitating more employer-student connection opportunities on campus.
This is important because students are becoming increasingly conscious of the competitiveness of the global graduate jobs market and of the ever-increasing financial costs of their educational investment. With the landscape of higher education both simultaneously expanding and shifting, the ability of universities to put their graduates into gainful employment has never been more important. The India Skills Report 2021 estimated overall employability at 45.9%. The employability is as low as 25% among those who completed polytechnic courses. If India’s economy starts growing at around 7% annually, post-pandemic, the job market will demand the level of skill sets that the institutions of higher education are not able to provide at present. The employability of Indian engineers has not changed at the aggregate level since 2010. India needs to replicate the successful models being implemented in Germany and Japan. Germany’s apprenticeship programme is a building block of its manufacturing prowess. Japan’s school system plays an important role in matching student skills with the industry’s requirements. The National Education Policy, unveiled last year, addresses such issues but in a limited way. It provides flexibility for students, proposing multiple exit options from undergraduate programmes with appropriate certification and also tighter integration between academia and industry.
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