Are our academic institutions producing graduates with skills that are needed in the market?
Whenever we are making a new hire, most of the graduates seem to not even have basic understandings even if they are from a good college. They have a lot of bookish knowledge but lack the ground reality.
We get a flood of CVs on a daily basis, but most do not have what we are searching for.
There is over supply of job aspirants compared to the industry demand. We cannot hire them even if they are eligible.
The above statements from various HR managers Glocal Khabar spoke to indicates the present situation of education system in Nepal, and the job market.
College degrees alone won’t land you anywhere
Subas Neupane, a recent graduate of Bachelor of Social Works from St. Xavier College, Maitighar, says that degree alone is not enough. “When we go to the job market, we feel it like a different world as everything is new for us. Along with the theoretical knowledge, we also need to have practical knowledge if we are to land in a job after graduation. It would be great if colleges start to focus on practical education needed in the industry.”
Barkha Saraogi, a student of Electronics and Communication engineering at IOE, Pulchowk Campus too holds a similar thought. “Practical knowledge is least focused even in engineering education. We get a lot of theoretical lessons, but the practical knowledge provided in the college is not sufficient. There is not enough field study. This directly impacts us while we go to the industry,” says Barkha.
Dakshina Shrestha Associate Professor, Sagarmatha Engineering College, also the training and placement head at the college, accepts the fact that students lack the required skills even at the end of their college degree.
Talking about technical education, the course design is very good from a theoretical approach but very weak from the practical approach. Students are not that strong in practical knowledge, though their theoretical knowledge is outstanding. The course doesn’t tell the students that they are entering job market after the graduation, at all. – Dakshina Shrestha
The outdated syllabus and teaching methodology
Pankaj Jalan, Executive Director of Lord Buddha Education Foundation, feels that there are problems in university syllabus itself and what is being taught. “There are many things in the course that are not necessary at all for students in their real life. Universities mostly design curriculum without properly studying the industry, thus lacking to deliver what is really needed in the market. This ultimately results in manpowers not having the skills needed by the employer,” opines Pankaj.
Even the classroom infrastructures and teaching methodologies are obstacles to produce qualified manpower. “Teaching takes place in a traditional style. It’s still taught in a similar way it used to be 40 years ago. The only difference is a marker and white-board. Knowledge is not updated at all, and old theories are taught that are not necessary in one’s job life,” Neupane expresses dissatisfaction.
Meanwhile, Barkha finds the syllabus not updated to suit today’s context, because the same old books are being taught since decades. IT and engineering courses too are taught in a conventional methodology in Nepal, that will ultimately affect the students once they enter job market, she says.
We are not updated at all as per the development in latest technologies. There are no discussion forums on the grounds and engagements at all in the college. Smart studying, through video projections are alien things to government colleges. As the teachers just use chalk or marker in black or white board to teach course contents, we cannot visualize what we’re studying.
Some engineering colleges have turned into factories which produce engineers who are mostly inefficient. A huge fraction of them are found to be doing unskilled work after engineering. – Barkha Saraogi, Pulchowk Campus
Are our teachers qualified enough?
Questions are also raised that teachers are those who didn’t land in any other jobs. They even do not know what they teach. “I doubt on the qualification of teachers. In faculties like BSW, there is not a system of particular teacher for a particular subject. So, even the teachers can’t deliver as required for the students,” shares Neupane.
While Glocal Khabar was having discussion with Industry representatives, questions were raised on the skills and qualifications in students who study in colleges that are founded and operated by teachers themselves. In such colleges, it was found that job market is a different world even in college operators’ mind, thus higher chances of students turning into unemployable graduates.
Government Colleges producing unemployable graduates
From the discussion, it was concluded that poor quality of education in government colleges of Nepal have turned the institutions into factories that produce unemployable graduates. Students from government colleges will feel totally lost once they graduate from college and enter the industry. It would be better if we’re taught in the college as per what is necessary in the industry.
The evaluation system in Nepal
The evaluation system in Nepal is totally outdated. Students cram the whole night the previous day, and attend the exam. What can you expect from such graduates?
In abroad, there is a system of continuous evaluation. At ours, we judge students only on the basis of what they write in exams. We should stop judging students through exams only at the end of semester or just their written assignment. – Pankaj Jalan
Is theoretical knowledge acquired in student life useful in work life?
Many graduates feel they wasted their time and money going to the college, as the degrees have not helped them at all in life, to get a job or in business. Talking to many college graduates, it seem, many college toppers have remained unemployed.
Prarthana Saakha, a recent BBA graduate from Kathmandu College of Management, and co-founder of Helmets Nepal says, “The things that I have studied in my college years is not the only and entirely helpful element in my business. We cannot just depend on the college degree alone, and college degrees do not determine our success. Mere good grades won’t land us anywhere. Relying on just college education is not that applicable. It is advisable for students to get skilled, not just qualified, however, college degrees do give the needed foundation.”
Probably the biggest problem in our case is, no link between academic institutions and industry. Neither has the industry approached academia for the types of product they need, nor have the academic institutions approached industry on what else than university syllabus should they provide to make the students market ready. – Dakshina Shrestha
Industries at the receiving end
“From what we have been going through, we feel that colleges provide certificates only, but don’t prepare capable students who can actually work. Most of the freshers don’t know anything about industry. So, we have been compelled to hire those with a basic knowledge and train them for months to make them competent in the job. Our academic institutions are following glamorous way, not ground reality. They show big buildings and other infrastructures while taking admissions, but don’t do anything to make the students capable. This is troubling both the students and industry,” complains Bikash Acharya, HR Manager at Panchakanya Group.
“College teachers should understand teaching what is mentioned in curriculum alone is not enough. You need to make students work in a real work environment and teach ground reality, not just books and theories,” adds Acharya.
In a nutshell
From all these above-mentioned problems, we need to feel that it is high time we seriously tackle these problems before it is too late.
Providing certificates alone won’t do any good for students. They also need to learn employability skills that are not found in university syllabus. Colleges should start skilling rather than only making their graduates qualified.
Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal