Let’s aim at creating an atmanirbhar talent pool: Ajay K Garg & Ashish Pandey, IIM Lucknow

Prof Ashish Pandey and Prof Ajay K Garg

Two academicians from IIM Lucknow talk to FE’s Vikram Chaudhary on the skills gap challenge in the country and some ways to bridge it. Excerpts:

How real is the skills gap?

Prof Garg: About 10 lakh engineers graduate every year in India. Of these, 94% graduates are not employable and only 4.6% possess good coding skills. Upskilling the youth is the need of the hour and it should be done in a way that serves the needs of the future. Some surveys note that about 70% employers believe reskilling and upskilling are the most viable solutions to bridge this talent-skill gap.

Prof Pandey: Bridge learning solutions, the ones focused on Industry 4.0, can help close this gap. It’s time for the academia and industry to join hands.

What kind of new job roles are coming up with Industry 4.0?

Prof Garg: There are numerous new job roles coming up; in fact, organisations are embroiled in a war for skilled and trained talent, especially when it comes to new and advanced technologies. The IT market is red hot. IT services companies, MNC tech centres in India, tech start-ups are hiring in the thousands. For many of the new-age tech skills, new job roles are coming up and thus the demand for niche specialists and experts is rising.

Beyond the curriculum, what role can the academia play in training students for upcoming job roles?

Prof Pandey: It is very important to blend academic learning with practical exposure to create a well-rounded experience for learners. In a recent survey report conducted by a staffing firm, it was pointed that even amongst the digitally-enabled/skilled talent, less than 40% can be termed as experts. This accounts for the lack of collaboration and coherence between the academia and industry. The good thing is that with the NEP 2020, academic institutions in collaboration with industry leaders are taking more and more initiatives to deliver skilling and upskilling courses and also training the existing talent. The objective is to produce ‘atmanirbhar talent’, skilled enough to cope up with the challenges presented by the dynamic and fast-paced organisations across sectors.

IIM Lucknow recently started executive programmes with WileyNXT. What do these cover?

Prof Garg: We are offering four executive programmes—Strategic Finance, Strategic HR, Data Driven Product Management, and AI for Business—with WileyNXT. These have been designed by IIM Lucknow faculty along with the Wiley Innovation Advisory Council (WIAC).

The curriculum is focused on design thinking and leadership lessons for building T-shaped individuals (with behavioural, functional and technical skills). Tutors are IIM Lucknow faculty, Wiley faculty and master classes by C-suite leaders from across industries.

Prof Pandey: The curriculum is a combination of soft skills and hard skills, those that are industry-relevant and in demand. With the support of the WIAC, we also offer industry immersions and business case studies to deliver conceptual and contextual model of learning, allowing learners to implement the skills and be job-ready from day 1.

Strategic Finance is a unique course that aims to impart skills suitable for emerging CFOs and senior professionals in the finance function.

(Ajay K Garg is professor and Ashish Pandey is assistant professor, Finance & Accounting, IIM Lucknow)

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