Monday, 7 May 2018


Vaibhav Vats on why skills are being given prominence over academic achievements and multiple degrees

Choose a path you love’, ‘follow your heart’ – these are the most hackneyed lines, which have been repeated so many times that they have lost their relevance. While students are always advised to do what they love the most, it changes as soon as they grow up and have to make choices. Not many youngsters including their parents muster the courage to do what they love. Indian youngsters rarely think beyond acquiring a degree that makes them employable.
In today’s world, multiple qualifications sometimes do not fetch you a dream job, but skill-based courses can. However, the dilemma over skills versus degrees happens all over the world. This is because there is a huge risk involved in making life-changing decisions about the career. Even if a person has a strong belief in one’s abilities, it is not easy to convert the passion into a career choice. We come across many engineers passionate about music, who nurture an angst in their heart all their life for not being able to take the right decision at the right time.
Lately, however, we have seen a growing trend among the youngsters, who decide to choose vocations that utilise their existing skills instead of the degrees with which they walk out of academic institutions. But this has been brought about by the increasing number of alternatives and available information over the internet, opening up avenues for people with talent in various skills to build an audience or a target customer base. From digital marketing to cooking, acting to event planning, there is an appreciation of high-level skill set in any profession.
Our current curriculum is 70% theory and 30% practical, thus obliterating any scope for skill development. For instance, we have automobile engineers who can explain in 15 steps on paper how to change a car tyre, but may have never done it physically. In fact, one of the biggest problems MNCs face while recruiting in our country is the lack of necessary industry-relevant skill set in professionals, even among those with high academic merit. The government wants to tackle this scenario with initiatives, such as Skill India and organisations, such as the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), with an aim of making around 78 million Indians skilled in various vocations, in the next 10 years.
By 2020, India will become the youngest country in the world, with an average age of 29. As the unemployment scenario worsens, the Indian youth need to gradually try and identify skills that distinguish them from the crowd. It is important to create a niche of their own, rather than hinging their entire future on a piece of a paper, owned by several other youngsters. With the threat of automation also looming large, it is time to shine a spotlight on faculties, such as singing, dancing, acting, art, sculpture and other nonmechanisable skills. Also, focussing more on digital world and learning its tropes by pursuing courses, such as digital marketing, new media communication, graphic designing etc. is extremely important in the current day and age.
Youngsters today have information overload and have millions of mentoring sources to guide them towards their chosen path. An honest selfintrospection to identify the skills, devise a blueprint to follow a particular path in the most efficient manner and identify the best category or niche wherein one can rise to the top – is much needed. This is better than just lingering on an average threshold. Even ace tennis player Leander Paes, after winning an Olympics singles’ bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, opted to play doubles in the future. He identified a better possibility of him becoming one of the best doubles and mixed doubles player of all times than remaining on the periphery of greatness in the singles circuit. Identification of skills, persistence in practice, smart choices and grabbing the right opportunities – all of these factors together contribute to success, but it all begins with knowing the ‘gift’ you have.

Source: Times of India | 7th May 2018