Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE, says that employers want to know more than just the potential candidate’s degrees before hiring him/her. “Earlier, offline internships introduced a company to students’ personality and characteristics such as the way they work in teams, their time management, problem-solving and soft skills and more. With the online internships, this important stepping stone to final placements has received a big hiccup,” he says.
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Similarly, online interviews make it difficult for companies to get additional insights into a potential employee’s soft skills such as their attitude and communication skills. “All of this led to decline in final placements last year,” says Sahasrabudhe.
On a standstill
Due to the pandemic, all sectors suffered setbacks. With decline in business, automatically the number of new recruits being taken up across industries witnessed a slowdown. “Recent conversations with various players across sectors have revealed that with their business activities slowly getting back on track, they are looking to be a more active part of the placement process this year,” adds Sahasrabudhe.
Reduced pay capacity
About number of students taking admission in management courses in the 2020-2021 session, the chairman says that while AICTE does not have any formal data, the number of admissions seems to have been affected as well. “With all sectors suffering due to the pandemic, even families have gone through great loss in personal incomes. With this, students seem to have postponed their plans for higher education to the post pandemic session,” tells Sahasrabudhe.
Fruitful internships are one of the best ways to getting placements at the end of a professional course. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, various colleges in tier-II and III cities were not able to provide their students with the best opportunities in the regard, says Sahasrabudhe. “AICTE has recently launched a portal to empower students to apply for and get internships most suited to them. Thus far, the portal is offering 11½ lakh summer and semester internship opportunities. We are hoping this will bring about a change in the final placement numbers as well,” he says.
The entrepreneurship wayInstead of giving so much importance to placements, students should now be encouraged to go the entrepreneurial way, says Sahasrabudhe. “The last year has taught us about the uncertainty of life. Students should now be encouraged and taught in a manner that helps them take the leap into becoming an entrepreneur. From being jobseekers, they should be able to add to the nation’s employability scene and become job-providers,” he adds.
The data collected by AICTE shows that only 92,322 students in management courses have graduated with jobs in hand from AICTE-approved management colleges in 2020-21 as compared to the 119,546 students the previous year. B-schools in states known for a strong service sector also reported a dip in placements, including Maharashtra (20%), Karnataka (15%), Tamil Nadu (28%), Madhya Pradesh (22%) and Uttar Pradesh (28%). The sharp decline in the placement figures have plummeted to a nine-year low in 2020, reveals the data.