Stupid Choices by Students/Parents on Education are Negatively Impacting Families, Industries and India

Out of 2.25 lakhs graduates and postgraduates passed out of colleges in Andhra Pradesh in 2008, 1.8 lakhs are either engineers or MCAs. The rest of the 45 thousand include MBAs, medicos and other streams. With course selection, most of the students are picking one or two popular streams. These popular streams fluctuate dramatically from high expectations (followed by mass joining) and a few years later with lost hopes when the jobs don’t materialize. At that time, the courses become untouchable. A few years back BCA and Biotech courses were much hyped about but are not popular today. It seems that once a educational stream is perceived as providing lucrative career opportunities, most people blindly enroll in that course without properly assessing it.

In 2007 admissions, only 8 MBA colleges (including university colleges) could close admissions for general category (boys) with students ranked below 10,000 in ICET and just one college could close below ICET rank of 1000. While in case of MCA, more than 200 colleges could close admissions below 10,000 ICET rank. Further, out of these MCA colleges, 10 could close admissions with students below 1,000 ICET rank. As you can see, MCA course was vastly preferred over MBA by the brightest students who appeared for ICET.

Back in 2005, over 90 per cent of the top 1,500 ICET rankers opted for the Master of Computer Application course. Today, as they came out of the colleges in 2008 not even 10% of them have found jobs. Even for those who found jobs, when their employer loses a project – they are the primary targets during layoffs since they are Trainees (not billable resources) in the organization.

Within MBA itself, when it comes to electing the specialization in MBA, many have made a mistake in choosing finance as their option. For example, if we take the case of Osmania University campus, we can find 56 out of 72 students opting for finance as one of their major. And seeing the state of the financial sector, which stopped their hiring activities, it will be a tough time for the students to find jobs after graduation, since Finance people will be mostly misfits in other industries.

In February 2009, the stock market has fallen by 58% to around 9000 from a peak of 21,000 seen in January 2008. When the stock market rose from 7000 to 21,000 between 2005-08, there was a shortage of people to support the business in mutual funds, lending, brokerages, and banking companies. Today however, with the market tanking the existing workforce is being reduced. For all those who graduated with MBA Finance in 2008 or are going to graduate in 2009 the job prospects are bleak.

Why does this happen?
The reason for this imbalance is a result from the lack of smart decision making from the student community and the parents. These poor choices have a negative impact on the availability of quality human resources with the right skill sets and qualifications for the various industries that make up India.

Hype – The “Education industry” has skillfully with the help of media and hundreds of crores in advertising exploited the ignorance and gullibility of the students / parents. Typically, media publicizes the average salary of 5-10 top colleges and give a wide publicity through first page new reports. Unfortunately, many innocent parents/students come to the wrong conclusion that anyone doing a certain degree will make at least that much of the salary when they complete that course.

Group Think – The students are selecting the course blindly, in masses based on group thinking i.e. just doing what most other people are doing without thinking. Many students find comfort and security in taking a course chosen by majority of their friends and social circle. They think that, if so many are choosing this career option, then it may be the right choice.

Not assessing the capabilities (suitability for their career) – Students tend to join the courses considering either the hot sectors or what the others joining irrespective of their skills and potential.

Not thinking smart – Students/parents have failed to judge the capability of the industries in creating employment. In many career options, tens of thousands of students have to compete with each other for a few hundreds jobs when they complete the course and enter the job market. While, in many industries there are not enough good people taking up the required educational courses.

This trend of choosing the college degrees and courses without proper assessment and sound logic will cripple the competitiveness of the industry at the national and international level. This will have a serious impact on overall growth of the state and country. This is a structural issue, where college educated population is not able to find suitable jobs caused by the mismatch of education degrees with the available career opportunities.

In today’s recessionary times, the most important professionals are marketing professionals (not same as sales). Marketing professionals can properly assess the market situation, identify the limited opportunities available, and help organizations to respond to the environment and stay viable. However, with so many of the bright students making incorrect career choices in choosing software careers, and Finance careers, there are very few opting for MBA (Marketing), a degree which can provide the knowledge to help Indian industry to respond to the recession. With limited marketing capabilities, the Indian industry has taken the undesirable option to cut jobs – especially in export-oriented industries like garments, diamonds industries.

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