Mismatch between education system, job requirements: Study

August 16th, 2009 - 10:12 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) What is being taught in schools and colleges doesn’t match the skills that businesses are looking for in new recruits in countries like India, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), says a new global study.
It focuses on five of the world’s fastest growing economies - India, China, Brazil, South Africa and the UAE. It was released this month by Edexcel, an arm of the Britain-based Pearson Education which designs vocational modules for schools and universities across the globe.

There is a “remarkable mismatch between what is being taught in schools, colleges and universities and the knowledge and skills businesses and organizations are looking for in new recruits, even in India”, says the study.

Claire Stuart, international marketing manager of Edexcel, who was here last week, told IANS: “We believe that the focus in India should be on creating a culture of learning, giving women more work space, developing businesses that impart education and focusing on creativity, ideas and the knowledge economy.

“We are piloting a flagship qualification project in India in October to develop these transferable qualities in the corporate workforce and identify vocational education modules (like the teachers’ training programme) that required redesigning.”

The yearlong study, “Effective Education for Employment (EEE)”, interviewed 2,000 students, teachers and employers in the five focus countries.

“Perhaps the most striking finding was the consistency with which we heard the calls for reforms, wherever we went. Many of the businesses we spoke to felt that their education failed to effectively prepare individuals for the workplace,” Ross Hall, international director of Edexcel and co-author of the report, says in it.

“There was a disconnect between businesses and vocational education.”

“Even learners felt that their education lacked relevance to the jobs they were hoping to apply for in future. The need for change is clear even in countries like India,” Hall said.

“The report represents the beginning of a debate. If we are going to address these issues, we need to do it collectively,” said Jerry Jarvis, managing director of Edexcel.

According to the report, vocationally-trained individuals represent around five percent of the total Indian workforce.

“By 2021, it is expected to increase by 50 percent,” the report says. The current Indian education market, says the report, is estimated at $46 million with a private spend of $17 billion. The specific market for vocational education is currently estimated at $1 billion.

The years of colonialism, the report explains, are considered to have left a positive legacy embedding the English language into Indian education. But the administrative systems are largely based on a traditional British framework and this creates a problem, the report says.

“Within this framework, there is an emphasis on ‘top’ academic institutions and considerably less prestige and focus on non-academic studies,” the report says.

There is evidence that the relative demand for technically/vocationally qualified candidates have fallen in India over the last decade. “This is due to the poor quality of training provided,” the report says.

It quotes a 2006 World Bank report for India saying only “one in every five school-leavers (secondary pass-outs) had the necessary skill to get a job and the figures for university graduates were one in four”.

The report said while “provisions for education were expanding rapidly in India, it was often at the expense of quality, relevance and value.”

It pointed out that the “quality and methods of assessment in vocational education lacked accuracy and relevance, knowledge and skills taught in professional and education courses were outdated by the time the student reached the workplace, there was little focus on behaviour or employability skills and in-work progression and training were often inadequate”.

“There were key skill gaps in areas of leadership, teamwork, innovation and creativity, along with a mismatch between the perception of value in relation to certificates - with learners/employees valuing them much higher than employers,” the report said.

At least 40 percent of all the learners polled believed their academic and professional qualifications failed to prepare them for work and 45 percent employees said they were receiving little training from their employers, the report said.

An employer of a large multinational company (name withheld on request) based in Bangalore said the biggest challenge he faced was that there was no talent. “The talent pool is dry,” he said.

He, however, felt that on-job training was best because “the employees tend to learn more”.

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