Building Human Capital at the Grass Roots

April 9, 2011

Could there be a better learning and developing platform for students other than institutes and education bodies? That is indeed a much debated question. There is one section of society that would defend the sanctity of the present day education system; while you have the other segment, that talks about revolutionizing the system through e-leaning methodologies, virtual classrooms grounded in practical application and live projects.

Rapidly changing social systems, dictate the need of the hour – to adapt to a whole new world of learning and development. Less than two percent of colleges across India have initiated the change process in they curriculum with the focus on the student becoming a contributing member of society rather than idolizing the system of education as a reservoir of knowledge.

Knowledge by itself holds little value, unless it finds practical application in the real world. Much like a genius whose inventions hold little meaning unless it can enhance and improve the quality of life at large.

Looking at the lopsided development of our education system with its focus primarily on knowledge dissemination with little scope for practical application in real time situations, students today lack the critical soft skills (behavioural competencies) needed for success on the job. Thereby widening the gap between academia and the corporate world. According to NASSCOM, each year over 3 million graduates and post-graduates are added to the Indian workforce. However, only 25 percent of technical graduates and 10-15 percent of other graduates are considered employable by the rapidly growing IT and ITES segments.

There have been umpteen studies carried out, constantly showcasing the importance and need of competency based training within colleges. Yes, colleges have begun paying heed to this call, which has given rise to whole new problem – an outburst of pseudo finishing schools, training institutes and even retired professors claiming to be experts on Behaviour Transformation and Remodeling. How many of them truly have the competence, skills, knowledge, experience and credentials to mould behaviour is something one wonders? Thorough checks must be done as to their experience and capability; many of them have little expertise in behavioural analysis, professional counselling, profiling and instructional design methodologies. The programmes should be structured and well planned for they are to bear fruit.

Creating a future generation of responsible, global, empowered Indians is no joking matter; it requires a consistent, comprehensive and sustained effort. This goal will not be realized if students never or only occasionally participate in such life skills management programmes. This should be an ongoing process till all the aspects of confidence, motivation, positive attitude, planning and prioritization, goal setting, stress mitigation and conflict resolution are imbibed and inculcated within every student, equipping them with the much needed tools to deal with the ever changing corporate world. It is only then that education within institutions would truly become holistic and empowerment of students will no longer be an issue.

However, academic institutions alone cannot achieve this objective without contribution and partnership from the industry. The industry has to take the fore front and spear head such initiatives. They have to clearly state their need with regard to the kind human capital they require and take active measures in grooming them. In the absence of which, we will have students who are technically brilliant but lack fundamental people management skills, which have become critical in today’s ‘flat world’.

Disha as an organisation aims at being a vehicle for promoting Life Skills Management initiatives and Competency Based Training across academic institutions through out the country through its unique soft skills program called Mind the Gap (MTG) coupled with its online battery of assessment tools aptly called Intelligentia. Success is not innate, it is an acquired attribute; people who are successful quickly figure out which habits they need to rid themselves of, and which behaviours to develop and emphasize in order to reach the pinnacle of success.

But knowing how you’re supposed to be isn’t enough.  Success is a slippery slope; for every right step you take, you can easily lose your footing on the next.

MTG is not just any intervention package, it is a process through which individuals become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, skills and abilities, interests, values, goals, and aspirations. It is aimed at helping students attain a comfort level in situations where the topic is “self”; in negotiations where they have to be prepared to articulate their personal and professional needs and finally, in charting out their careers and aligning their goals with the organisations vision, wherein, knowing where they want to go depends entirely upon knowing where they are.

This Human Capital initiative of Disha in its applications extends the abilities of students by taking them beyond traditional forms of assessments to a whole new world of learning and development, empowering them with a cutting edge equal to none other; and positioning them in a league of their own.