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Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice: Management Education Today

BY: VIJAY KARMARKAR | Category: Sales-Marketing | Submitted: 2010-11-02 07:30:12
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Article Summary: "All business schools are engaged in imparting management education to the aspiring MBAs by using the best possible equipments and techniques available. It is important to improve the employability of our students so that we can help bridging the gap between the theory and practice of management education today..."


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It is the beginning of the academic year and the scramble for admissions is almost in the last phase for management and engineering colleges in Madhya Pradesh.. While the majority of the students are taking up EC,ME,Civil,EX,CS and IT branches in engineering and Marketing, HR, Finance , Retail or Rural in MBA , one basic objective prevails in everybody's mind i.e. What kind of Placement he/she is going to get at the end of the day? Everyone wants a job with a handsome pay package instantly on finishing the academic course.

All the colleges attempt to impart quality education by optimum use of the resources available at their disposal including the pool of talent of their faculties. Many a times , compromises and adjustments are made to manage and manipulate the resources to complete the syllabus as per university norms and to put the students through the examination rut semesters after semesters. This is an astonishing bitter truth we have to accept as it is evident from the quality of our output i.e. the academic ,technical and skill set level of our passouts.

According to the International Labour Organisation, India has approximately 39 million registered unemployed persons. There are probably another 260 million who are underemployed or unemployed in the age group of 18-50 years, according to iWatch, a Mumbai-based voluntary organisation. At the same time, the organised private sector is struggling to find skilled workers, which in turn is impacting its ability to compete on a global scale.

In the recent times, industries have been complaining that the quality of the students available for recruitment is not up to the mark even at the masters degree level. The main reason being that the students are only good on paper and have very little or no working knowledge of their subjects. There have been efforts to take inputs from the industries to design courses or have finishing schools. This has been successful to some extent in sectors like IT where the demand is very high. However, a large percentage of our MBAs are far below average as far as employability is concerned.

Our ambitious growth forecasts are partly based on what is known as the 'demographic dividend'. India is a very young country with over 770 million people under the age of 35. The average age in India is 25 years, compared to China, where the average age is 34 years and Europe, America or Japan, where it is 40-45 years. We expect this to translate into higher growth, via improved output, production and consumption. But the 'dividend' cannot come from the numbers alone; the nation will also require its young population to have the skills that increase productivity and output.

But the industry experts say this is a myth that needs to be disproved. With the recent opening of the economy there are newer sectors such as the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES), Telecom and Retail. These sectors are facing acute shortage of skilled manpower and are not very rigid about hiring degree holders. The retail industry for example is largely manned by people who have passed 8th standard to those who have crossed 12th standard. Philip Sargunam, Manager - Training at the newly started and Bangalore-headquartered Manipal Retail Academy (MART) says, "A degree holder can only claim higher salary when joining but later it is the skill that will help the candidate grow. We have instances of skilled undergraduates being promoted with higher salaries compared to just graduates without any skills. Plus there is always an option of upgrading one's qualification through distance education or part-time courses."

There is another problem. The manpower crunch across industries at the entry level is so stark that companies do not have the luxury to wait for the candidate with the right skillsets and they end up hiring whoever is available. This is leading some candidates to believe that training prior to the job is just a waste of time. HR professionals however say that while the companies do take in freshers due to project pressures, it is the candidates' growth prospects that is later marred due their lack of skills. The companies cannot also move them to other projects. This puts the companies also in fix because they need to look out for fresh candidates again in a short span of time

Now, it is high time that the Management education syllabus has been added up with vocational training course as an essential component. Depending upon the students capabilities and career preferences, they must be given exposure to true to life production, marketing or financial aspects of business through live case studies and simulation projects. Also industrial tours to various industries - at least one industrial visit per semester - must be made compulsory for all colleges running two years full time MBA course. To enable the students learning with these measures capable, experienced faculties must be engaged by the concerned institutes.

Yes, of late we have the Entrepreneurship Development Cells created in almost all leading colleges with the support of EDI. It remains to be seen that how much benefit actually reaches to the MBA students beyond the occasional training workshops of introductory nature carried out by the EDI officials. The questions like Who, How , How much, What, Where and When will guide ,finance, help ,assist and make one entrepreneur of a project... remain unanswered till the student becomes alumni of the college...!

One of the main reasons for the lack of market responsiveness among vocational training courses is the limited or no participation of the industry in contributing to curricula development. It is the industry which has to finally employ the training post graduates. Hence, their mandate in determining what their future employees need to be taught can hardly be overemphasized. There are some rare cases of industry participation as members of Institute Management Committees (IMCs) for ITIs. But even such participation has been found to namesake, at best.

Well, what should we all do to address this real problem? It is advisable that our colleges must be made compatible for vocational add on courses.

Some examples of vocational education courses: dairying, farm machinery and equipment (Agriculture), accounting and auditing (Business and Commerce), electrical technology, air conditioning and refrigeration (Engineering and Technology), X-Ray technician, health care and beauty culture (Health and Para Medical), and preservation of fruits and vegetables, food services and management (Home Sciences and Humanities), candle or diya making, poultry,
food on wheels outlets, news paper /magazines agencies, general stores, tea coffee vending machines, travel agencies etc.

To sum up we can conclude that it is the need of the time to pay utmost attention to improve the employability of our students so that we can help bridging the gap between the theory and practice of management education today.

About Author / Additional Info:
Submitted by : Prof. Vijay Karmarkar, SIRT - MBA Dept, Bhopal.
Email : vijaykarmarkar@rediffmail.com . Cell : 9300413018

After having worked in the Marketing and Sales department of MNCs for more than 25 Years I have now chosen this profession to contribute to the society by guiding and helping aspiring students of MBA. I always teach by interactive method with live examples.

Comments on this article: (1 comments so far)

Comment Comment By Comment Date
Dear Sir, I read your article. Became very very happy. Actually I am an engineer,M.Tech civil at present working in odisha Govt. I have total 23 years of experience. I want to help young engineers by imparting practical training .For that I wish to start one construction industry institute which can bridge the gap between industry and academia. Can you pl give some idea on this. Thanking you sir. Yours sincerely, Er Das, Bhubaneswar Patitapaban Das 2011-02-18 01:04:47 612

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