India's Unprepared Graduates

India's Unprepared Graduates

Students like these at Delhi University expect that their degrees will help them get jobs, but the reality has proved more difficult. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/niyam/3821007095/lightbox/">niyam bhushan (flickr)</a>
Students like these at Delhi University expect that their degrees will help them get jobs, but the reality has proved more difficult. Photo: niyam bhushan (flickr)

With more than half of India's population under the age of 25, and the glowing praise that India receives in the media, India seems to be on the fast track to success. And yet, India's educational infrastructure falls devastatingly short of providing the economic edge students need.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the very same companies that made the Indian economy the growing powerhouse that it is are now struggling to find competent hires. More than 85 percent of India's graduates are unemployable by call centers or IT companies. In fact, according to S. Nagarajan, the founder of a call-center company called 24/7 Customer, only three out of every 100 applicants is considered hireable. "With India's population size, it should be so much easier to find employees. Instead, we're scouring every nook and cranny," laments Nagarajan.

The problem lies, according to the Wall Street Journal, in an outdated educational approach that values memorization over critical thinking and pays little attention to issues of academic honesty, creating a system ripe for exploitation. In order to keep education affordable, the Indian government keeps teacher salaries and school budgets low, providing little incentive or funding for teachers to improve. And there is no reform in sight.

"My family has invested so much money in my education, and they don't understand why I am still not finding a job," D.H. Shivanand told Wall Street Journal reporters. He seems the ideal candidate on paper — a masters degree in business from a top University, wherein all of his courses were taught in English. Yet a year after graduation, he is looking for any entry-level position available, and continuing to take out loans to improve his spoken English and interviewing skills.

The lack of well-educated youth to take over in the industries that show the most promise may mean that India isn’t the global superpower we have come to believe. According to the CIA World Factbook, much of India’s growth has occurred only in the last 20 years, progressing so rapidly that it is anticipated to be one of the most dominant world economies by 2050. But without an educated populace to take over, it’s growth could fall flat — and soon.

In order to prevent that, some companies have taken matters into their own hands. Since the educational system cannot be relied on to produce skilled employees, companies have decided to create training programs for new hires. This may help some unskilled graduates make up for lost time and money, but certainly not all will be granted this second chance. With a predicted 1 million people joining India's workforce each month over the next ten years, India's economic sustainability is at risk.

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