“Yes,” says Ravi Jain, vice president of education at PricewaterhouseCoopers, an education consultancy. “It can be very important if you’re an international student who’s coming into a university and you have an important work experience.” A skilled student can pay extra to secure the right place. “What’s important to know is the right people can turn out to fill the skills gap and that’s good for everyone,” says Jain.
He adds that if there aren’t enough of an educated workforce, the student’s decision to attend is an investment. “You can’t build infrastructure for it, so your students are using their own resources.”
Still, for others, it could be time to reconsider, and rethink. Ravi Jain says employers have noticed that there are more college graduates taking a less lucrative route to the big time. “They’re looking for graduates who can do well in their areas of concentration and get the right skills,” he says.
He adds that the skills gap is not only something employers can’t easily address. It poses a particular risk for graduates with a lot of education, as they are likely to be the first to find employment.
The skills gap has its roots
It’s a fact that is hard to ignore. A skills shortage is hardly news. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, OECD data shows that around 40 million young adults were out of work at some point, and a further 1.8 million had given up on finding work entirely.
In 2012, OECD figures show that, of those older than 25, the proportion of people in employment with at least a tertiary qualification (12 years of education or less) was at its highest level.
“You can have a shortage of skills, but not a skills shortage,” says Jain. “To be working you need to learn new stuff, so it’s not only about skills. It’s about what you’re working towards in your career.”
But what about the skills gap among non-graduate students? This is where the story gets murkier. According to estimates cited in the OECD’s report on education, there were nearly 4 million more people in work in 2012, compared to 2006.
But it’s hard to say, and it’s worth noting that many of the students who have taken their education outside of India may well have found work elsewhere, so it’s difficult to generalize. Moreover, estimates by the OECD have shown that the skill gap
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