IBM CEO Ginni Rometty recently made a jarring but truthful statement - modern Indian citizens are underskilled, and it's holding them back from employment in IT.
It's not the first time the employability issue among engineers has been called out. Various research reports and industry veterans have earlier put the number of employable, fresh graduates in India at less than 10 percent.
Mumbai-based serial entrepreneur Narayan Mahadevan (49) wanted to build a solution to this problem. In 2015, he launched Mumbai-based BridgeLabz, an incubator looking to bridge the employability gap. The startup aims to increase the talent pool by 25 percent, and reduce the demand-supply gap in tech-based profiles. Through this, the company aims to help startups and enterprises, who would otherwise lose talent to corporates and unicorns who can pay better.
Making engineers employment-ready
According to Narayan, majority of fresh engineering graduates in India do not get enough hands-on experience, unlike graduates in the fields of medicine and chartered accountancy, who get experience with residencies and articleships, respectively. He believes that one can learn only with experience, especially for roles that require expertise in specific technology.
Even those with excellent skills may lose out in an aptitude test, says Narayan, and hence remain underconfident. Many of them lack the skills needed in the product market too. On the other hand, vacancies for tech roles often remain vacant at many organisations for months, sometimes years, because the available talent pool is too small.
A mechanical engineer by education, Narayan ran his first startup, tech services platform Zesta, for five years. After it shut down in 2012, quite a few engineers who were at Zesta were employed at the likes of Flipkart and Myntra in product manager roles.
“Nowadays, engineers are often employed as product managers. (It was the experience at Zesta as engineers, which helped them become product managers later.) At my second startup, MakeTechEasy, I realised that I could make engineers confident in coding. If they can code in C++ they are eligible for a job anywhere. So, I launched an 18-week programme, in which they solved some 400 problems in C++ and became thorough in the topic,” he recollects. After realising that he could do this on a larger scale, Narayan decided to start up again in 2015, and launched BridgeLabz.
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