Sunday, May 19, 2013
Last Updated: 18 May 21:00 PM IST
21 July 2011
Placement promises often translate into marketing strategy and guardians and their wards should know better, says pranay kumar roy barman
WE live in times where we ought to realise that every offer comes with a catch, and yet we inevitably ignore the fine print and bash on regardless. In this case, it’s the B-school prospectus that offers “100 per cent placement assistance”. It seems that the more appealing the offer, the more students throw caution to the wind, but no one can guarantee 100 per cent placement/assistance. It amounts to a buzzword, or better still product marketing strategy that allures guardians who, in turn, push their wards to swallow tall promises of employment.
After all, the destination of every B-school student is getting a job. Management students by virtue of their apparent accomplishments are driven to brood over the concept that on their pass-outs they will find employment. Poor families dip largely, if not wholly, into retirement benefits like provident fund and gratuity or sell off property, etc. Many take loans in the hope that their wards will make good after passing out. Does this happen? In practice more than 50 per cent cases determine it does not.
Families that find it difficult making ends meet have to largely depend on the future income of sons/daughters. A good number of B-schools conduct management courses as a business proposition. These schools are mostly private owned or run by corporate houses, societies and NGOs. The last two qualify as non-profit organizations and determine course fees at a comparatively lower rate; the others decide on the basis of profitability. Students are attracted to big brands that, as per the demands of business, must satisfy their own needs.
Business schools try to place their pass-outs but the actual phenomenon lies in whether their students have the capacity, whether they have been taught the rudiments of how to be employable. In most management schools, students of average grade, even those below average – and this to support the exchequer — are also admitted. In fact, many who fail to make dent in higher education of other disciplines opt for management courses. At the end of it all, such students are found to be devoid of job knowledge, subject knowledge, communication skills and the art of presentation; they fail to perform during interviews — and all because of a lack of confidence. This would suggest they are not properly groomed for acquiring jobs, never mind that they secure first class marks — some 80 per cent and above in university exams. For management students, securing good marks/grades in final exams is not the only criterion for employment. There has to be proper grooming, proper orientation. B-schools must ensure these essentials when they advertisement such sweeping placement offers. The irony, though, is students are found to be inattentive and involved in preparatory exercises and applications like mock interviews, role-playing and lessons on the integration of knowledge and practice.
Observers say English medium students consider themselves to be smarter, even superior, but poor subject knowledge renders them unworthy. Some are given to avoiding training and grooming sessions/activities in the preconceived notion that placement is the responsibility of the institute. And when they are not “placed: they resort to activities unbecoming of students and sometimes create an undesirable situation in the campus.
Education and skill development are recognised as critical factors for making students job-worthy. Acquiring skills can be achieved through rigorous training and review. Management institutes, as a routine responsibility, employ Training and Placement Officers who are expected to connect with and maintain a liaison with business houses, heads of industry, corporate honchos, for placement of students. They have to perform assiduously to groom students into being job-worthy. B-school authorities have mechanisms to evaluate and appraise how TPO responsibilities are discharged. They also have to be satisfied with the basic concept that management students must learn beyond the classroom to attract recruiters. Classroom learning alone will not make them fit for employment. Classroom teaching is simply the base and students have to motivate themselves in the real perspective to be more enterprising. They must strive for accomplishment. Knowledge is deciduous unless it is sharpened through cultivation.
Again, students are found to be choosy about accepting jobs with regard to compensation package, nature of work, place of posting, and working hours. Many prefer “at-home” jobs and those who find work “outside” often enough find they cannot cope with the rigorous training system of an establishment, the disciplines and nature of the job. MBAs in finance prefer core-finance jobs and have an aversion for marketing. From the very start, they find it difficult acclimatising to corporate rules, norms and the system and quit. Even students of average grade who get jobs outside their home state paying above Rs 6 lakh per year leave in no time without intimating their employers. It also happens that they quit even without informing their institute and seek placement again. There are cases of students who get employment on the basis of very good interviews not being able to cope with a corporate house because of the burden of responsibility and accountability.
Indeed, students must learn to prioritise — a job for the money or one for the comfort?
To train students, there are provisions for industry visits, internships for project preparation and study, during which time they are supposed to get involved in the management system of a corporate house in respect of attendance, discipline, nature of job, performance appraisal, etc. These industry visits and Summer Internship Project are two very important pacesetters for on-the-job training that B-schools must attend to seriously.
Students in their curriculum get acquainted with the term “change management” — how to adjust with and perform in a changed situation — but in a real life situation they cannot cope. Why? Because during their two-month internship proper care was not taken to meticulously enforce practical evaluation. Students are left largely to themselves and, in isolation, only the project report is examined for awarding marks. The reality of becoming corporate friendly through internship is, therefore, a far cry.
Communication in correct English still leaves a lot to be desired, for which students and B-schools must should equal responsibility. Writing a correct CV is an important feedback and determinant, as also presentation skills. Students with lesser percentage of marks and average job knowledge but with better communication skills and better dressed are more apt to impress employers.
The job market is very competitive and one must accept a job quickly. Later one can try for a better one, but if the chance is lost there is no room for second thoughts. The pay package may not be so lucrative but one must have a base from which he/she can try for better prospects. B-schools cannot create jobs for students, they merely liaise with companies for jobs for their students. Here the competition depends on the rapport the institute earns and also on various comprehensive factors that need to be dispensed with quickly and gracefully.
IIM pass-outs make the best recruits. During the tenure of their course, students are made management savvy and groomed in such a way that they are all employable in any corporate house with a higher package. Why this difference? IIM students are of better merit and grade, thanks to a combination of very high course fees and rigorous and result-oriented pedagogy. Can other B-schools adopt a similar approach?
The government might consider creating a “Management Students’ Employment Bank” and help B-schools by way of negotiations with the industries, retailers, corporates, banks and financial institutions to absorb pass-outs on a priority basis. It may also consider setting guidelines for minimum remuneration for management students so as to cope with the financial market. It might also consider earmarking a certain proportion of management pass-outs for employment in both the corporate and government sectors.
The writer is a professor with the Institute of Business Management and Research, Kolkata