Engineering streams have consistently lacked practical and applied education which resulted in graduates being inadequately prepared for the job market.
states Pradipto Chakrabarty, Regional Director, CompTIA India to Higher Education Plus.
-By Triparna Ray
- Most of the recruiters think freshers don’t have skills or they require some training. Can you please share your thoughts on this?
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. Also, bulk of the fresher jobs earlier was 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 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 different type of competencies and more importantly practical skills from the fresh graduate.
- How are you helping trained to become a skilled 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 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 teaches the topic of “common security issues faced by an organisation”, 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 of 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.
- According to you which skills are most demanding (India specific) right now?
In terms of skills required, clearly cyber security stands at the top, globally as well as in India. Most IT services organisations have started 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 Centres) has never been more that what we observe now. Skills on network security, cyber security 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 virtualisation, 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 specialised skills on open source data management tools like Hadoop, MangoDB 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 framework around these emerging technologies is yet to be formalised.
- What sort of challenges you faced and what actions you took to overcome those challenges?
One of the biggest challenges that we face constantly is that individuals consider enrolment in an industry relevant skill development programme as a cost rather than investment. What they fail to understand many a time is 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 programmes, we successfully convince students to enrol 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 extremely positive uptake in terms of number of students enrolling for CompTIA programs, especially in the Tier 2 / 3 locations.
When we interact with enterprise organisations, the usual push back has been a high attrition rate of employees once they get certified. Organisations consider the investment in employee certifications a waste as they lose these employees to their competitors. However, what they fail to realise that it is costlier to keep untrained staff than skilling them. In fact, we have examples where the organisations 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 organisation to evaluate our programmes 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.