Discerning Unemployability

As part of my campus recruitment effort for one of our largest clients in BPO vertical, I evaluated more than 5000 student candidates in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore over a two month period. The poor performance of large number of students was very disappointing. A little bit of googling helped me understand that what I had experienced is called “unemployability” and the extent of it.

To understand the gravity of the issue, let me present some facts. The total number of people interviewed to the people who were offered in current context is 100:8. This ratio is actually very alarming because it has direct impact on company’s effectiveness in terms of predictability of getting right talent at right time. Also management’s time is spent on people who wouldn’t be good enough to be hired and pushing up the cost of recruitment. More alarming is the same ratio we observed during campus recruitment drives. It was 100:2.3!! This poor hiring ratio increases the cost of hiring, making campus recruitment unviable.

Campus recruitment is essentially a market place where companies and students meet to exchange skill for remuneration. Prohibitively high cost of campus recruitment is destroying this market place. Flourishing market is key to a nation’s success and thus it is in our interest to ensure the hiring funnel is brought to optimum levels and companies don’t find hiring at colleges prohibitively expensive. This would ensure campus market grows and spreads prosperity throughout nation.

Discerning Unemployability: Unemployability isn’t inability of a person to find a job but inability to find a job that is commensurate to one’s qualification for reasons such as found unfit by potential employers. Critic in the reputed magazine, The Economist believe that there isn’t anything called unemployability, there only exist low productivity among the educated but semiskilled.

I did a survey to find what people thought about unemployability and its causes. The results are like this:

Purpose of asking this question was to see if people have experienced this issues in their lives and whether they would also agree that the problem is grave.

There are several stakeholders who could contribute to eradication of this social evil however this question helps us answer who should lead the movement, clearly Colleges.

Government has taken several steps to improve the quality of teaching in colleges. Raise in minimum salary for professors, other training programs for teachers is clearly a step in the right direction. This perhaps shows in this graph, where some people find lecturer quality to be not the major issue.

Perhaps the issue dealt in movie 3 Idiot isn’t the gravest issues afterall!!

Looks like examination as a sole method of measuring performance of a student isn’t contributing to the issue.

I need your help in understanding this graph, so please use the comments section!

Clearly, communication is a major area to be addressed. Thankfully several government agencies and NGOs are working in this direction. I would like to specially present the success achieved by JKC, Jawahar Knowledge Center. Folks here have done great job in addressing communication skill issues and computer literacy among government college students. The dedication shown by these people, has certainly helped AP Government make one step towards solving unemployability issues. If you desire to read more about JKC then click on this: JKC

Thankfully everyone feels passionate about the issue and many are even ready to contribute time towards resolving the issue. This pie chart really motivates me to take some steps towards solving such an issue. As a next step, I would study work done by various stake holders in resolving this issue and understand what critical step is missing. In the meanwhile if you desire to participate in the survey that helped us collate this information, then please do so by clicking here.


I wrote second part of this blog, here is the link: http://bit.ly/12QnKKE

12 thoughts on “Discerning Unemployability

  1. We should be looking at Corporates getting in touch with universities to vitalize the education system. This has been discussed a lot over the years but as the results show, still a lot needs to be done in this front. This situation is not just in India, it spread across most of the countries…..


  2. In my experience most of the teachers and lecturers have chosen the profession not because of passion for teaching, but for the comfort (work timings, holidays etc) it offers. Some times, only unemployable candidates of other domain get into teaching.

    I feel giving importance to the exam scores also contribute to this issue. In most of the schools in Tamilnadu, they skip one full year syllabus and teach 12th std subjects for 2 years, because 12th std. marks matter to get into professional colleges.

    Only the combined effort of parents, colleges, Govt and the students themselves will eradicate this issue


  3. Hi Badri,

    Good research…you have been speaking abt this since long time and finally you came up with stunning figures and astonishing numbers.

    Things striked while I was reading article:(per individual)

    Strong beliefs and values: to be cultivated by parents – I feel this is mstly acheived.

    Independent living: Individual should be given an opportunity to lead his/her life themseleves. (More like western style on choices, decision making, education etc)

    JKC is really a good concept, I know many of my friends got through campus placements after the course. There is huge competition to get a seat for JKC course too.

    On way to reduce the gap between a graduated student and cooperate employee is to let the individual live independently.



  4. I have always read blog which talks about their experience; this is the first time I am reading something with research and data. Good research & stats!!!

    According to 6sigma – DMAIC concept, defining the problem is the most critical and important part. If you are able to define the problem right then arriving at a solution is much easier but depends on the execution 🙂

    In my mind, you have touched the root cause of unemployability, which is the right definition. Hope to see more stages 🙂


  5. Great Post, Badri!!, Looks like you put in quite a bit of effort into the whole theme…Inspires me to start writing on Sun Tzu !!! keep up the good work !! 🙂 Anand Srinivas Raman.


  6. Great post. Wonder I did not read this before. I feel the reason of why students are not up to the mark or lack of skills is because there isn’t much of activities in most of the colleges other than the usual studies. I bet 2 or 3 out of the whole lot prepares for more than marks..rest need to pass with numbers and percentage which will get them an entry to IT field or any field for that matter. There is no or very little connection between the education and the actual real world profession. How many of them take Industrial visit seriously? How many even take part in paper submission or debate or communication skills seriously? Schools and Colleges should arrange more guest lectures and talks to make the students aware that the education system is planned to give them the basic education and knowledge and its the student’s responsibility to work on their skills. Just the pre-placement talk doesn’t help. And every tom dick and harry who has a basic degree becomes a software engineer irrespective of their field of study. Parents should should not force their dreams on the children. Most of the parents think engineering and medicine are the only respectable fields. Parents have the responsibility in educating their children of various fields that exists with the pros and cons. The child should be given enough freedom to choose his own path and parents should guide them accordingly.


    1. Very good points Saranya. Problems are deep rooted but there is good action happening. At every stage now we have infrastructure for people interested in learning to upgrade themselves. 🙂


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