The millennial question

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The skills required in today’s job market are both hard skills and people skills. Are the much-distracted Millennials equipped enough? Prof. Rajini Anand critiques Generation Y.

For years we were told ‘once a career is chosen, the person is stuck with it’. In today’s world however, the statement does not have much relevance, as the scenario in the job market has undergone a paradigm shift. Opportunities for exploration and growth in career are plenty. The Generation Y, also known as the Millenials, are a different set of demographic composition with their unique sets of attitudes, beliefs and aspirations. They are eager to climb the career ladder quickly, and choose to move jobs based on alternative lucrative choices and growth prospects. As a result, a decade of loyalty to one organisation is a thing of the past.

Art and craft for job sustainability
Sustaining a job and climbing up the ladder require more than an educational degree. Statistics reveal that barely 10 percent of the 30 lakh students who pass out every year are considered employable in today’s competitive world. The underlying reasons boil down to two distinct things: art and craft. By art, we mean the hard skills i.e the knowledge to get the job. This could mean a degree in engineering, management, the sciences etc. This certainly gives the required entry ticket into the corporate world. But when it comes to sustaining the job, the craft, also known as the soft skills are crucial. The skills could be good attitude, flexibilty, adaptability, communication, people skills etc.

The combination of this art and craft is known as employability skills, where: Employability skills = Knowledge in a specific career+ essential soft/ life skills.

Employability skills are the non-technical skills and knowledge essential for effective contribution in work. They can comprise of skills such as communication, self-management, problem solving and collaboration. These skills are equally essential for success in academia.

The essential life skills include:

  • Decision making – Shows you know how to evaluate options.
  • Problem solving – Shows leadership role to find a positive solution.
  • Goal setting – Shows you know how to set up a plan to achieve specific goals.
  • Critical thinking – Shows you know how to be objective and think logically.
  • Communicating effectively – Shows you know how to work with others.
  • Requirement of these vital skills is from the employer’s perspective, but if one were to take a more reflective approach, these skills are needed for the below mentioned reasons:

  • To gain initial employment
  • Sustain employment
  • Switching jobs if required
  • Generation Y
    Generation Y is a digital generation which likes to remain connected all the time. Therefore, they are constantly in a world of distractions and 24/7 entertainment. Training this generation can be quite a challenge. Some of the issues faced while training them are:

  • Oversized expectations
  • They get bored easily
  • They lack awareness of etiquette and manners
  • They have an attitude
  • Bridging the gap
    Now that we know that a gap exists, it is important to address the issues by having a fruitful collaboration. It is here that coordination amongst stakeholders such as faculty, students and industry and directors, is essential. The institute-industry interface too, needs to be strong. Educational institutes need to conduct more guest lectures for the students by calling experts from the industry.

    It is important to shape students’ personality by including soft skills training as a compulsory subject in their curriculum. Involving them in non-academic activities like social clubs, events, and outbound projects can go a long way in improving their holistic skills.

    The concept of learning in today’s world has to be reinvented. The gap between theory and practice also needs to be bridged by moving beyond theory to the realm of ‘learning by doing,’ where the trainee gets a firsthand experience of practicing what has been taught. This plays a crucial role in retaining concepts and ideas.

    The students need to be motivated all the time and exposed to more experiential learning methods like simulations, discussions, role plays and Just-a-minute activities to give them a taste of real life scenarios that depict several challenges which a participant will eventually face after course completion.

    Acquiring hard skills is only a beginning, while there is no full stop to gaining soft skills. The employability of a candidate can be enhanced only if he or she possesses a good measure of both.

    Prof. Rajini Anand is Faculty Member, Indian Business School (IBS), Mumbai.


    Prof. Rajini Anand

    Prof. Rajini Anand is Faculty Member, Indian Business School (IBS), Mumbai.

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