80% Talent Leaders & Academics Say Pandemic has Changed Skill Needs for Young Talent & Made Placement More Challenging: Survey


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  • 99.2% of talent heads believe that Thrive Skills (cognitive, behavioral, and social skills) are very important at the workplace today 
  • 95.6% of talent leaders feel that college education today does not adequately prepare young talent for the 21st-century workplace
  • 96% of academics acknowledge that there’s a greater need for academia-corporate collaboration in the wake of the pandemic

Harappa, a homegrown EdTech startup and India’s leading online institution for behavioral skilling, recently conducted a survey to understand the distinct need gaps and challenges faced across the education-work continuum. The survey, which saw participation from both talent leaders and academics, puts the spotlight on challenges across the spectrum and how industry and academia can come together to meaningfully solve the employability challenge that Indian youth continue to face.

In recent years, talent leaders and academics alike have raised some pertinent questions around education and employability. Why isn’t higher education keeping pace with the ever-changing job market? Is the higher education curriculum reflective of the needs of employers? Do students feel work-ready when they enter the workforce as graduates? What skills does the industry want younger talent to bring to the table? How do faculty look at employability gaps and placement challenges for their students? Harappa’s Bridge the Gap survey sampled 200+ academics and talent leaders to decode these finer nuances of young talent employability in India. 

The survey revealed that close to 80% of the talent leaders & academics feel the pandemic has changed the skill requirements needed to successfully maneuver post-pandemic (remote-first) workplaces and has made placement more challenging for young talent. The survey also found that today, the top three skills that employers look for in young talent are 1) the ability to proactively problem-solve, 2) Self-motivation, and 3) Affinity for teamwork. Other skills highlighted were excellent communication skills, resilience, reasoning logically, time management, and learning on the job. 

Astonishingly, 95.6% of talent leaders believe that a college education does not adequately prepare young talent for the workforce today and 96% of academics acknowledge that there’s a greater need for academia-corporate collaboration in the wake of the pandemic to solve the ever-persistent employability challenges. 

The survey has also uncovered some interesting insights around the biggest need-gaps in today’s curriculum. Talent leaders identify creative problem solving as one of the biggest need gaps, followed by critical thinking, effective collaboration, decision making, logical reasoning, and others; whereas academic respondents feel critical thinking followed by creative problem solving, effective collaboration, building networks, professional writing, and speaking skills and decision making, among others, were the biggest need-gap. Interestingly, the ability to problem-solve is also one of the top skills employers look for in young talent: a skill that evidently remains missing from our curriculum. 

Upon being asked the solution to bridge the employability gaps in today’s young talent, the talent leaders stood divided. While 29.3% recommend co-creating curriculum with enterprise representation, 28.6% recommend including Thrive Skills (cognitive, social, and behavioral skills) in the curriculum and the other 25.6% recommend including corporate representatives as part of faculty. On the contrary, 73% of academics feel that building an industry-campus partnership to co-create curriculum is key to address employability need gaps in our youth, Further,  67% of academics feel the need for corporates rolling out higher internship opportunities for campuses and 49% think there is a need for regular workshops and seminars on skill development from potential employers. 

Shreyasi Singh, Founder & CEO, Harappa says,

“For far too long, academia and industry have been like the parallel banks of a mighty river of talent: never to converge on a shared destination. As India continues to reel under the brunt of the pandemic, it has also been facing an unenviable employability crisis for many years now. At Harappa, we believe that it’s now or never that academia and industry push and provoke each other, and motivate and support one another, to solve India’s most crucial talent challenges.  With the Bridge-The-Gap Survey, we wanted to address some of the most crucial questions that plague academia and industry today. Findings revealed that 99.2% of talent leaders acknowledge the importance of Thrive Skills at the workplace. We are heartened by this and strengthen our commitment to empowering professionals with these key cognitive, social, and behavioral skills for continued success at every career stage.” 

When asked about the biggest challenges young aspirants face in the interview process, 59% of the academics identified speaking and articulating effectively as the biggest challenge, 43% of academics felt students struggled with quick problem-solving skills, and 43% believed positioning their personal brand as the biggest challenge. 

54% of the academic respondents feel that there is a need to put more effort into making young aspirants ready for the 21st-century workforce. When asked about the growth potential of young talent, 67% of talent leaders shared that less than 30% of their young talent is poised for optimal growth; 19% felt 30-50% of their young talent show optimal growth potential, and only 14% shared the sentiment for more than 50% of their young talent. The top industries that respondents represented were IT, Edtech, Consulting, Manufacturing, e-commerce, Government & Public Administration, and Telecom. 

The survey has highlighted crucial need-gaps in today’s curriculum, reinforcing stronger industry-academia collaboration requirements to make our youth more employable. To foster and sustain this much-needed dialog between industry and academia, Harappa recently hosted the inaugural event of its first-of-its-kind property, Bridge—a platform for academics and industry leaders to deliberate, discuss and find solutions for India’s talent and employability challenges.

About the Author

Author: Stephen Soulunii

Stephen Soulunii No more a student, but love to learn. Not a teacher, but care about how students are taught. Not an educator, but want everyone to be educated. Not a social worker, but desire to see change. Not a reformer, but always want to see a better world. The author believes that only sound education can bring a better future, better world and technology can help achieve a lot in this field.

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