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Industry – University Collaborations are the need of the hour

March 24, 2020
Prof Eswaran Narasimhan

In conversation with Professor Prof. Eswaran Narasimhan, CSE and Dean, Industry Collaboration

What are the main reasons for organisations not finding Indian Graduates Industry-Ready?

At least 47% of graduates in India are not employable for any industry role, according to a 2019 report by the widely followed employability solutions firm Aspiring Minds. The report is based on a pan-India study of 60,000 graduates across colleges. Aspiring Minds also reported that over 80% of Indian engineers are unemployable because they lack new-age technology skills.

What is the reason for this abysmal state of affairs? Let us look at some of the issues at the individual level:

Lack of curiosity

Students often restrict themselves to their chosen field and even within that to the prescribed curriculum. Running with such blinders prevents them from building perspective. The attitude to question, the ability to understand the why & what is lacking. In this digital age of data science and analytics these attitudes are imperative. A recent feedback from an Industry Mentor, who is one of the three mentors guiding NUtons during Industry Practice, a pedagogical breakthrough for Industry connection fact indicated that the basics of why an approach is preferred over another is not substantiated with a fundamental mathematics basis, which was seen as important in that context relating to analytics.

Ability to self-learn

The fact that industry challenges and opportunities are evolving rapidly is not lost on anyone. Today’s problems cannot use yesterday’s solutions and industries are looking for wide range of skills in professionals. The changing business requirements often require learning fast and by self. Not knowing because it was never taught is not an excuse because abundantly available resources make learning accessible to everyone all the time. All that is needed is the ability to self-learn.

Problem solving orientation

Learning to solve problems involves a systematic approach using various established and formal models. These are all seasoned approaches that apply to most categories of problems but require serious study. Imbibing these approaches is necessary since it is impossible to learn the solution to every anticipated problem through theory. This systematic approach to problem solving is often not demonstrated and many students appear lost when presented with a problem.

We are exploring the possibility of creating preparatory packs that are given to students before they join their Industry Practice in the last six months. Industry Practice is the culmination course undertaken by each NUton at organisations during which they work on real and live projects being executed by the organisation. IBM for example had a concept of a preparatory pack that was used to let students learn by themselves so that they are more productive when they join the Industry Practice in January.

At NIIT University (NU) the focus is on involving industry right from the curriculum design stage. Feedback from recruiters is invaluable in helping us design courses and pedagogy that plugs the gaps perceived and experienced by companies. We also launched first of their kind programmes such as the Business Leadership Programme in association with ICICI Bank and Business Analytics Programme in association with WNS.

Besides this, our NIIT legacy is also helpful. We received feedback from the NIIT Group on what the end customers want and the new practices that the industry demands, which are then fed back into the academic system at NU.

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