Is your College Degree Enough? Growing Concerns of Skill Deficiency

With the rising concern of educated but unemployed individuals, let's address the elephant in the room: is a college degree sufficient for securing job opportunities and fostering career growth? 

Quick Fact Check, Because the Numbers Don’t Lie 

According to India Skills Report 2022 by Wheebox, only 48.7% of total youth in India is employable.This means almost 1 out 2 Indian youths are not employable.

The study also says that about 75% of all the companies surveyed reported a skill gap in the industry. 

A World Bank study revealed that more than a third of university graduates remain unemployed for one or two years post-graduation. Furthermore, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) reported in 2021 that 46% of employers faced a shortage of skilled applicants for professional positions, citing lack of work experience and required qualifications as major issues. 

In 2019, the World Bank found that 69% of employers experienced a shortage of applicants for highly-skilled positions.

Similarly, a 2019 report by the Society for Human Resource Management indicated that 51% of respondents believed that educational systems had not adequately addressed the skills shortage. 

Let’s Throw Light on the Skill Deficiency 

The following are the common cited reasons for skill deficiency:

  • Theoretical focus of the education system often leads to minimal practical skill training 

  • Emphasis on academic rigor and technical skill building overshadows the development of soft skills and practical expertise. 

  • Curriculum updates lag behind market dynamics, failing to cater to the evolving needs.

  • Final year internships or hands-on training may not provide sufficient understanding and exposure to the field of work. 

  • Not many companies are open to hiring freshers because of the high cost involved in training and uncertain return on investment. 

Denise Leaser, SHRM-SCP, President of GreatBizTools states that the 3-4 years degree is struggling to keep up with the dynamic evolution of work and states that, “By the time someone graduates, their knowledge is out-of-date." 

The Pew Research Centre Study with 1,400 technology and education professional found that in the immediate future, the most valuable work skills will be those that machines can't yet perform, like soft skills. So, the survey suggested that young adults need to "learn how to learn" if they hope to adapt to a fast-changing work world. 

Mastering skills like

  • Story-telling

  • Communication

  • Critical thinking/problem-solving

  • Active listening and interpersonal skills are going to grow at a rapid pace as machines won’t be able to replace humans with these skills, without having its limitations/shortages.

Digging Deep into the Roots of the Issue:

  • Current educational institutions are churning out more book-smart individuals, but having a fancy degree doesn't count for much if you lack the practical know-how to apply it, teach it, or understand its real-world significance. 

  • On campuses today, there's a noticeable trend of disengagement among college students compared to previous decades. Participation in activities that foster interpersonal skills, like volunteering or extracurriculars, is declining. Fewer students seem interested in joining recreational or sports clubs, missing out on valuable opportunities for learning and socializing. 

  • Everything is online and just a click away: Many prefer online solutions over face-to-face interactions, leading to a decrease in hands-on experiences and human connection. With the rise of AI tools and technologies, there's a growing tendency to rely on machines to solve problems rather than putting in the effort ourselves. When convenience is just a tap away, fewer people are willing to invest the time and skill required to tackle challenges independently. 

The Road Ahead 

  • Updating the curriculum regularly is crucial to ensure it aligns with the evolving demands of the modern workforce. By integrating these changes, graduates will be better prepared to meet the challenges of their chosen fields upon graduation. 

  • Providing more opportunities for students to gain practical experience through internships and apprenticeships alongside their studies is essential. This allows individuals to benefit from both academic learning and real-world application, equipping them with the skills needed to succeed in their future careers. 

  • Emphasizing employability and skill development has become a national priority in recent years. The increasing participation in skill-building initiatives among young people, from 46.2% to 50.3%, demonstrates progress in addressing this issue. It's a positive step in the right direction towards resolving the skills gap. 

  • The growing influx of women into the workforce presents unique opportunities. Historically, women have often outperformed men academically, suggesting a potential for enhancing the quality of work rather than simply increasing the quantity. Additionally, this trend calls for a reevaluation of workplace dynamics and the skills deemed essential for shaping the future workforce. 

In conclusion, while a college degree is valuable, it may not be sufficient in today's competitive job market. Emphasizing practical skills, adaptability, and continuous learning is essential for navigating the evolving landscape of work. 

About the Author

Revathi is a Counseling Psychologist and International Career Coach (NCDA, USA certified Certified Career Service Provider) with over four years of experience in mental health and wellness counseling, training, and education. Having conducted over 600+ hours of adult individual counseling sessions, she specializes in intrapersonal, career, and relationship domains. Revathi has delivered 20+ training sessions in Mental Health and Wellness and is a fervent believer in preventive mental health. Her mission is to make mental health accessible and affordable, overcoming stigma and unawareness. 

Know More and Follow the Writer: 

Add a comment & Rating

View Comments