Beyond the Summit: Transforming Education for India Pre-Trained Future Workforce

Conquering Mt.Everest: In India, a great majority of educational institutions are hugely overwhelmed by the gargantuan course material that is to be covered mandatorily for every course of study offered by that establishment in a given academic year. The academicians, who usually may disagree with one another in some areas are unanimously united in one opinion that a mere three hundred and sixty-five days is grossly insufficient to cover so vast a syllabus when a generous measure of bank holidays, festival, national, summer and winter holidays, teacher absences  and student absences,  are thrown in for extra measure that makes the coverage of the curriculum impossible (a word deemed non-existent). Hence, unrelenting pressure is applied from top to the bottom (from the affiliating bodies) and from side to side (from within the institution) to cram the course content into the student’s brain, come rain or sun, heat or cold, earthquake or tsunami.  

Pin hole View: In this scenario, a small group of academic managers anxiously peer through the telescope to predict how many new students will join their school next year. They're worried about two possible outcomes. Firstly, they fear that only a few lesser-known companies will show up for the much-anticipated annual campus interviews. This would spell disaster for picky students who want to work only for well-known companies. Secondly, If the scandalous situation of unemployment due to a lack of companies unfolds, there could be a significant decrease in the number of new students admitted in the upcoming academic year. 

Undeniable need: Observing both potential disasters, academicians reluctantly acknowledge that students, particularly in their final year, need to be introduced to at least some 'soft skills' to navigate job interviews, if nothing else. Therefore, both the majority and the minority of academics reluctantly agree that training in any form—whether it's a seminar, webinar, or workshop, call it what you will, lasting a few hours—is an 'inescapable necessity' that must be addressed as soon as possible. 

Corporate Miseries: Meanwhile, companies, also known as potential employers, find themselves in a daunting position due to intense competition in the global market for their goods and services. Their clients insist on strict specifications and features for the products/services they order, along with speedy deliveries, requiring precise attention to detail in these crucial areas. 

Additionally, adding to this pressure, companies face the challenge of clients constantly checking on the progress of their products at every step. They insist on speaking directly with the team leader or member regularly (expected to be sound in communication, etiquette and reporting skills) to make sure the production progress meets expectations. So, within these strict limits, businesses hope to find relief by hiring ready-made recruits, like heat & eat meals. Similarly, students who are well-trained at the college levels are believed to have left behind indecisive behaviours like a snake shedding its old skin and now ready to be hired with minimal onboarding fuss, in keeping with the recruit & salute style. Such trained students are considered a boon to remedy this everyday stressful situation. 

Dangerous terrain ahead: Now, students in their final years of college fast approach the end of their academic journey, which typically lasted a good sixteen to eighteen years. The next phase, which is their careers, will most likely span no less than thirty to thirty-five years. This journey is usually quite challenging, especially the steep climb up the career ladder, where they hope it's leaning against the right wall. Additionally, navigating through this journey feels like wandering through a jungle, where most things seem unpredictable. In this context, people they interact with, including clients, bosses, coworkers, and even those they manage, can sometimes be allies and other times adversaries. Therefore, it's like a survival game where only the strongest thrive. 

Mothers understand: So, colleges need to be proactive in supporting their students through rigorous training to armour them to face the challenges of the real world with confidence in the future, once out of college. No one else can give them the strength and resilience they need to handle such a tough and competitive environment. Imagine, the warmth of our dear mom's gestures as we recall her preparations for a simple picnic, or a trekking adventure, or a mountain climb. With tender care, she would gather a hamper filled with sumptuous food, refreshing drinks, and all the little delights she could find, ensuring every moment of our expedition is cherished. Similarly, educational institutions must play the mother’s role while the beneficiary would be, besides students, their employer, the provider, in the role of a father.  

Intellectual Vitamins: With such intellectual nourishment, teams become naturally well-aligned operating seamlessly, ensuring each team member contributes flawlessly to satisfy clients. Communication then is a two-way street leading to the agreement of realistic deadlines, fostering an environment of mutual trust where work transforms into an enjoyable endeavour, resulting in superior product quality. Talent retention becomes virtually guaranteed, marking giant steps towards organizational excellence.  

Training a necessity: Hence, training of students at the college/university is not mere training to secure a visa into an organization. It is to prepare for the life beyond. The closest parallel that I can draw to drive home this point is the manner Indian astronauts who have been readied for space travel in the Gaganyaan mission. They have been intensively trained not just for a historic space journey but for results beyond that would be beneficial to mankind.  

The Game Changer: The ‘Finishing Touch’ for example is one such programme which I have taught several hundreds of first-time jobseekers which drives home the point elaborated in this article. Let me elucidate how its seven lessons have benefitted those trained in it.  

Lesson # 1: The first of the seven lessons creates awareness of the ‘Universal laws’ and the ‘Laws of the mind’. One is now able to innovate holistic problem-solving skills, combining logic and intuition for effective solutions to day-to-day problems as well the chronic ones at the workplace. Their understanding enhances decision-making by aligning choices with natural principles and human psychology. Improved communication and emotional intelligence foster better relationships and teamwork. This reduces stress and promotes well-being. Aligned with organizational goals, these individuals contribute to a harmonious and productive work environment. It is no wonder that this lesson is titled ‘You Can, If You Think, You can.’ 

Lesson # 2: The second is communication. It is not about learning to speak the English or any language fluently.  Now visualize a climber navigating a mountain climb by carefully gripping each hold. Similarly, the essence of communication is getting messages across to everyone in a clear, kind, and respectful manner, avoiding misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Like a climber ascending step by step, mastering this skill helps individuals progress through close inter-communication in their work, building better relationships and understanding with both clients and colleagues.  

Lesson # 3: In 1970, researchers of the university of Pennsylvania determined that in any verbal communication between two or more people, it’s only a mere seven percent of what one says is conveyed through words or the content, whereas thirty eight percent is how these words are expressed, gauged from the tone of voice, volume & tempo. On the other hand, fifty five percent of our communication is facial expression, body posture, hand gestures, breathing, skin colour, i.e. non-verbal communication. John Grinder, the Co- founder of NLP, writes in the book ‘Structure of magic ii,’ that ‘the match between our verbal and non-verbal communication indicates the level of congruency.’  Hence, this lesson is about reading the mind of anyone we are in a conversation with. This helps to make apt changes rapidly to maintain rapport and be in synch with the other person. 

Lesson # 4: Business etiquette is a critical factor at the workplace. It plays a key role while handling people within or outside. Some customers may pose challenges, while others may prove exceptionally challenging. In most manufacturing companies, the shop floor workforce typically boasts more years of work experience compared to newly recruited supervisors, as was often the case with many of my students. Hence, one trained in proper workplace etiquette is more likely to be respected and listened to. Similarly, any external party—whether a client, service provider, or supplier—perceives the individual representing the organization as its public face. Hence, one with perfect manners, respectful, endowed with patience in listening, is gladly welcomed for deftly handling all kinds of people be they clients/customers or others within or without.   

Lesson # 5: Many facts that have long since remained underground in relation to exploratory meetings related to suitability are finally unearthed. Every meeting happens for a purpose such as gauging mutual suitability. Questions are asked and answered by both sides to determine this. However, when stakes are high as in a do-or-die situation, meticulous preparation before, during and after, increases the probability of acceptance as in the case of a job interview or that of compatibility between two people proposing to marry. Or for that matter, to explore collaborating in a joint venture or even suitability for admission to a prestigious club/association or an institution of higher learning. Such meetings happen all the time for a lifetime.  

Lesson # 6: Understanding and directing our thoughts towards a specific goal is what we call 'thinking' to decide. Thinking skills are crucial for new employees when they attend meetings to discuss project-related matters. While meetings are not work per se, they're important for reviewing, solving problems, planning, scheduling, and more.  

During a meeting, a new employee has two options: Option 1: Stay silent and observe. Option 2: Contribute effectively. Since the second is more welcomed than the first, this lesson moves forward to do just that. Based on Edward De Bono's principles of lateral thinking, it teaches candidates to explore ideas using the theory of coloured hats, showing senior members that even a newcomer can reach logical conclusions by following a thoughtful process.  

Lesson # 7: The final, the seventh lesson is how to stop worrying and start thinking out solutions, resolve internal conflicts within oneself and conflicts with fellow employees before such conflicts blow into a conflagration, behavioural patterns and many unknown factors on managing, handling situations that always ends up in a Win-Win in the manner that Tesla’s theory of 3, 6 & 9 can produce incredible results. 

Conclusion: This seventy-hour Finishing Touch training program, spanning over two months, has yielded remarkable transformations.  

Following completion of the course, numerous sources have reported on the profound impact it has had, including: 

- Previously silent students have emerged as articulate speakers. 

- Participants have showcased remarkable brilliance and confidence in inter-collegiate competitions, prompting judges to inquire about their formal training for such events. 

- Trained students, numbering between 100 and 200, stand out in crowded campus interviews due to their distinctive attire and impressive communication skills. 

- Many students have overcome challenging interview situations, even in the face of intimidating interviewers. 

- HR executives have reflected on how similar training during their college days would have better prepared them for their professional roles. 

Educational institutions can greatly benefit prospective employers by providing them with well-trained candidates, equipped with the qualities needed to lead organizations confidently into a meticulously planned future.  

Undoubtedly, employers desirous for trained candidates will be racing each other to the gates of the institution that offers the cream of the crop! 

About the Author 

The writer of this article is the author of ‘Becoming Recruitable’, his second book. He had fashioned the Finishing touch that launched many first -time job seekers into successful careers in the early part of this century! His first book ‘Mirror your mega success image’ reflects the spirit of this unique mission.  

Ash Nan can be reached at 

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