Current Higher Education System Consistently Lacked Practical and Applied Education

By : |July 20, 2018 0
Current Higher Education System Consistently Lacked Practical and Applied Education

Is our education system isn’t efficient to deliver the required skills? Yes, we are becoming bookworms and not focusing on practical and applied education. But why, the obvious answer is just to gain higher rankings. We discuss the same with Pradipto Chakrabarty, Regional Director, CompTIA Technology India Pvt. Ltd lets see what he thinks about this.

Most of the recruiters think freshers don’t have skills or they require some training

This is true. The current higher education system, especially for Engineering streams have consistently lacked practical and applied education which resulted in graduates being inadequately prepared for the job market. Employment rates have still been on the higher side due to a huge volume of outsourced projects to the Indian IT services sector.

This led to the sector being the highest in terms of hiring numbers. However, this trend should not be confused with “employability” which is a parameter that indicates how ready the freshers are for the job market. In most cases, these fresh hires were trained over a considerable period during incubation and then further deployed as shadow resources which gave them ample time and opportunities to learn from peers.

Pradipto Chakrabarty, Regional Director, CompTIA India

Pradipto Chakrabarty, Regional Director, CompTIA India

Also, the bulk of the fresher jobs earlier were related to basic coding, software testing or level 1 infrastructure support. With rapid automation, most of these manual and repetitive jobs are getting redundant. What companies require today is a far more practically oriented graduate who can start performing from day one.

Unfortunately, the education system is still not able to plug this skill gap. We are seeing the closure of institutions and the receding faith in IT as a career among fresh graduates. What needs to be noted is that there is no dearth of jobs in IT, it is just that these jobs require a different type of competencies and more importantly practical skills from the fresh graduate.

Which skills are most demanding in India?

In terms of skills required, clearly, cybersecurity stands at the top, globally as well as in India. Most IT services organizations have started a dedicated security practice offering to their clients. With all recent cyber security incidents occurring across the globe and India, the relevance of SOC (Security Operations Centers) has never been more than what we observe now.

Skills on network security, cybersecurity analysis, and penetration testing are critical in a SOC environment. In addition, as Blockchain finds its way in business operations, it is critical for the workforce to have skills in Cryptography and Public Key Infrastructure to be ready for understanding this cutting edge technology.

With almost all applications and database moving towards cloud from on-prem systems, skills around virtualization, resource management, cloud security are in demand. On the development side, the key skills that are necessary today are AI languages – Python, C++, LISP, and Java.

The transformation from RDBMS to Big Data is leading to specialized skills in open source data management tools like Hadoop, MongoDB, and Tableau. Apart from these, skills in IoT, VR/AR, and Edge Computing has also started to get more visible, however, in my opinion, the exact skill frameworks around these emerging technologies are yet to be formalized.

My suggestion to students will be to evaluate their interest areas and prepare their skill sets considering the long-term career path in IT.


How are you helping professional?

CompTIA’s training and certification programs focus on “skills” and not merely knowledge. We need to understand the difference between knowledge and skills. Knowledge is awareness of a concept and skill is how the resource can use this awareness to resolve problems.

All of our programs focus on a concept and then assess the learner by giving them scenario-based situations which are derived from real-world environments. For example, if our Security+ certification and training program teach the topic of “common security issues faced by an organization”, we will train and then assess the learner by asking “Given a scenario troubleshoot common security issues such as unencrypted credentials”.

This way the learning and assessments focus on troubleshooting the scenario – which is most likely to occur when they work on real projects. If a fresher is already trained in these programs, they can right away deliver the solution on the floor without much internal training. All this is possible because CompTIA certifications are designed and developed by a group of SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) who have worked on the particular technology and knows the skills required by the workforce for specific IT job roles.

At a ground level, our discussion with enterprise organizations is around the lines of hiring certified candidates. Today, many organizations prefer or mandate fresh graduates to acquire some relevant CompTIA certifications – which is a part of their job requirements. We also connect organizations to our commercial and academic partners on a train-certify-hire proposition.


Key Challenges

One of the biggest challenges that we face constantly is that individuals consider enrollment in an industry relevant skill development program as a cost rather than an investment. What they fail to understand many a time that this investment in learning a skill has a potential of earning a higher return in terms of achieving better employment opportunities.

With consistent dialogue and showcasing examples of students getting placed after training and certification on CompTIA programs, successfully convince students to enroll themselves for these courses and get the true value. Moreover, the recent challenge of dipping placement rates for graduates has also led them to believe that they should undertake some additional skill development courses to excel and stand apart. Our India business has seen an extremely positive uptake in terms of a number of students enrolling for CompTIA programs, especially in Tier 2 / 3 locations.

When we interact with enterprise organizations, the usual pushback has been a high attrition rate of employees once they get certified. Organizations consider the investment in employee certifications a waste as they lose these employees to their competitors. However, what they fail to realize that it is costlier to keep untrained staff than skilling them. In fact, we have examples where the organizations have reduced attrition rates by investing in our certifications.

Acknowledging the fact that India is a price sensitive market, we have set our certification prices at a level which enables consumers – individuals, academic institutions or enterprise organization to evaluate our programs by balancing price versus value proposition. Our conversations focus on showcasing the immense value that CompTIA certifications add to career goals for individuals or business goals for an enterprise, whichever is the case.


Technology Trends

While we are listening to a huge number of emerging technologies being discussed in all forums, the basic blocks in organizational IT remain pretty much the same. These blocks are development, database, infrastructure, and cyber-security. Cybersecurity, in a way, is an overarching domain that touches all the other three domains. However, today there is much more interactivity between these towers. Technology is going in a direction which is opening interactivity between data, devices, and software leading to a huge scope in defining job roles of future.

Moving forward, we will see some very significant transformational technologies including autonomous cars to IoT integrated smart cities to augmented and virtual reality. All these have tremendous potential in terms of business and employment. Having said that, currently, some of these innovations are in a nascent stage and we can only predict that they will transform the way we look at employment in the next 10-15 years. A McKinsey report of January 2017 states that in 2030, there will be 2.66 Billion workforces globally, out of which 8-9% will be new occupants. It also states that a massive 40% of the workforce will need some form of reskilling to remain relevant.

Undoubtedly, technology is becoming more complex. There are more tools to choose from and more parts making up an overall business system and user experience. As the world becomes more digital, companies are transforming to use technology more intelligently and more strategically. This transformation in the face of growing complexity is a huge challenge. The foundation of Infrastructure, Development, Security, and Data has evolved over time, but it continues to define IT operations that deliver business value.


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