Bridging the gap between Academia & Industry

Date:   Thursday , August 04, 2011

Thought the Indian IT industry is growing by leaps and bounds, it is also facing distress due to the increasing skill gap, a main reason for which is the disconnect between academia and the industry itself. In a candid conversation with The Smarttechie, Himanshu Goyal, Country Manager - Career Education, Academic Initiative, DeveloperWorks & Globalization, IBM Software India/South Asia talks about IBMís initiatives targeted at university graduates.

1.An insight into the growing gap between academia and real world industry needs.

Today industry is looking for ready to deploy (or billable) job skills while Academia is building on theoretical and lab based (so called practical) skills. None of the two can compromise these focus areas as these are necessary part of learning and development of an individual. We at IBM are advocating a stronger focus on the curriculum with our approach of preparing Service Scientists. Today's Gen Y student, is a demanding young teen, who is a technologist, networker and a collaborator. When s/he has done education s/he can be a Call Center Operator, a blogger, sales executive, a techie, teacher or simply a service scientist. We are working with governments and private educationists to provide guidance to universities for building services research and new curriculum. Our ability to innovate depends on our ability to hire needed talent.

2. What are the sectors/areas where there is particularly a large knowledge/skill gap and why?

All growing sectors including IT/ITES have a skill gap. If one looks purely at IT, we researched ten most popular job definitions and concluded that we do not produce as many ready-made skilled professionals with a best combination of theoretical and practical skills. Some of these are - Software Quality Management, Application Development using Java, Embedded Systems Development, IT Service Management, Business Analytics Information Management, Enterprise Content Management, Business Process Management, IT Security, Social Software. We are working closely with select Educational Institutions and retail educational partners to fill these gaps and address such needs. Our Career Education Framework for Engineering and Business Schools addresses these gaps.

3. IBM Career Program: An insight into IBM's engagement with the academia.

Currently 3.4 lakh Engineering (IT) students in India are produced every year under CS/IT. However, the lack of real world project exposure becomes an impediment for many of these students when they start their career. IT companies recruiting the talent are facing huge challenges as they have to spend considerable time and money to train the young talent pool. As Educator Karl Fisch puts it: ďWe are currently preparing students for jobs that donít yet exist, using technologies that havenít been invented yet, in order to solve problems we donít even know are problems yet.Ē So, we need to be mindful of the changing needs of the industry.

Career Education is one such initiative to enhance industry standard career skills to "Optimal Career". The whole framework is based on understanding three basic skills of an individual to Observe, Plan and Do. In IT job parlance we further extend their personality traits to areas of work they can engage in which includes Observer to Quality area, Planner to management area and a Doer to engineering area. IBM and NIIT have recently collaborated for Career Education Projects. This is to provide students with projects based on real-world requirements faced by organizations and are designed by experts at IBM. The students will develop these projects based on the methodology as practiced by the industry today. As part of this collaboration, NIIT will train and enable the students at its centers, providing them with the required skills training and mentoring throughout the project duration. IBM experts will evaluate the completed projects and provide certificates to successful students.

On the business school side, we have a framework called Career Education in Business Transform (CEBT) under which we have offerings to train students on Business Analytics - predictive and descriptive, SSME, Social Marketing and SOA. This will enable the students across all streams of Finance, Marketing and Human Resource to get the real T-Shaped skills to do well in their careers.