Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Nov 13, 2009

Mediocre MBAs, Engineers & a crashed computer server

When MBAs aspire to be clerks

  • There are 300 applicants for each clerical post at State Bank of India (SBI), mostly engineers/MBAs, for a job that just requires a Class 12 qualification for Rs 8,000-a-month job
  • It has 11,000 clerical posts on offer, but has received 3.4 million applications.
  • Mumbai: The server of State Bank of India (SBI) crashed last year when two million candidates applied for 20,000 clerical posts.

A Nasscom study found that India still produces plenty of engineers -- 400,000 a year. But most are deficient in the required technical skills, fluency in English or ability to work in a team and deliver basic oral presentations. 
Studies have indicated that only one in four graduates from India's colleges is employable.

  • As a result, those engineers or MBAs who manage to become SBI clerks may still consider themselves lucky. 

  • Listen to what Sandip Mukherjee (name changed) -- he is an engineering graduate from one of the middle-rung private institutes in Kolkata -- has to say. 

  • He came to Navi Mumbai to join a windmill company which has its headquarters in Europe. The quality of the job, however, he says, was only slightly better than that of a security guard. Mukherjee, who was lucky enough to find another job within four months, says his ex-boss had asked him to prepare a project report on the security system in the company's godowns.

  • Apparently, the company suspected that a lot of pilferage was taking place in one of its godowns. The engineer was asked to station himself in the security office to figure out the lacunae in the system. One of his observations was that some people left the godown unchecked during lunch hour when the security guard would go to the canteen to bring food.

  • Impressed with this finding, the boss then asked him to find out whether this was happening during tea break or at dinner time also, or whether the security guards went to the toilet often, leaving the gate unmanned.
  • "I didn't pursue engineering to observe people's tea and toilet habits," Mukherjee wrote in his resignation letter.

  • Companies say this mismatch between qualification and quality of job is inevitable in a country where everybody and his uncle is either an engineer or an MBA. The quality of teaching in most of the second-rung institutes is poor
  • Indian Institute of Technology alumni have repeatedly expressed serious concern over the mushrooming of engineering colleges that are being run as "business ventures" by contractors, builders, coal dealers, brick-kiln owners and sweetmeat sellers. 
  • In Uttar Pradesh alone, 250 such engineering colleges have come up in the last decade with an intake of about 60,000 students.
  • Two years ago, an assessment of the country's higher education system by the University Grants Commission (UGC) found that as many as 25 per cent faculty positions in universities remained vacant; 57 per cent teachers in colleges did not have either an M Phil or PhD; and there was only one computer for 229 students, on an average, in colleges. 
  • The assessment was conducted on 123 universities and 2,956 colleges across India -- an estimated 60 per cent of these institutions were private, the rest government-run.

India's vocational training institutes produce six million students every year. That's a minuscule number considering that an estimated 88.5 million people in the 15-29 age group need such training.   
  • What is also worrying are the findings of the India Labour Report prepared by TeamLease -- it has found that over half of employed youth suffered some degree of skill deprivation, while only 8 per cent were unemployed. In all, 57 per cent of India's youth suffered from some degree of "unemployability".

    • The good news is that some companies have decided to to bridge the skills gap.
    • ICICI Bank is working in order to upgrade curriculum with institutes like Management Development Institute, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and so on.
    • And last week's report on Japanese auto major Toyota tying up with 40 more Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in addition to the existing 16 was hugely welcome. 
    • Toyota has prepared a one-year syllabus on body and paint repair in association with its dealers. The eventual plan is to reach out to over 500 technical institute students every year through this programme. The students are free to join other companies if they want to.
    • India was the 53rd country where Toyota introduced such a programme.
    Shyamal Majumdar    in Business Standard of  12/11/2009