IntroductionRural India has certain characteristics. One of the chief problems of rural India is the total lack of exposure of both students and teachers to the industrial culture. Furthermore, they also lack information about the various career options available and what should be done to close the gap in terms of urban expectations and the kind of preparations needed to match the skill-sets that go along with the higher qualifications. Thirdly, though they are increasingly exposed through television, to the various opportunities or developments in urban India, as a consequence of globalization, they never get to experience the same, as the developments do not reach them at all.
For example, in the tier-3 and other smaller towns, one can see the mini-supermarkets, but not the likes of Reliance Fresh or other big names, where the real learning takes place in modern retail management, which has now emerged as a big function.
Hence, together with other strands of required knowledge, the rural graduates need to be told and trained on a) Salient features of exposure b) Information about various career options c) Skill-sets that upgrade the competitiveness of rural graduates d) "To be done" initiatives for rural graduates and e) Ensuring continuity of change.
Salient features of exposureThis true incident happened in the year 2011, a full three years after the big financial crisis in the USA. A raw B.Com graduate from a rural college situated some 100 kilometres from Tiruchirapalli ( the fourth largest city of Tamil Nadu) was asked two questions on a) How did the crisis happen and b) What was the role of the big company called Leman Brothers in the financial collapse in the USA, in an interview for a senior assistant's position in a big group, for their real estate division. Unfortunately, the boy did not know the answers and was rejected.
The boy's case was referred to me. Patient explaining of the facts and the entire background in Tamil, with a complete explanation of the effect, that it has on the Indian market, with specific examples, was clearly explained. It took a full two days program, for me to explain to this group of young graduates ( the college had invited me to deliver the program) and I had also explained the nitty-gritty of facing interviews, the kinds of questions that one needs to prepare, and so on.
This is exactly the kind of exposure that is taken for granted by most of Chennai or Bangalore colleges, as the level of exposure is so high. This could also be the situation in most big-city colleges. It was shocking to know that even the teachers did not read a single issue of any business magazine and were so keen to teach only the syllabus. Exposure to whatever happens around them should be taught in total and that information should also be updated very often. For example, the scenario as regards the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa ( the BRICS) countries should be known to any graduate, even those who take up English literature as their line of specialization. The students need to know everything about power, steel, cement, renewable sources of energy, the various facets of the development of each Indian State and so on. That this is severely lacking even today in the rural areas is a big cause for concern.
Information about various career optionsDespite all the most advanced IT applications, the various YouTube videos in the various Indian languages and so on, the rural students lack the basic information even about conventional courses, like cost accounting or cost accountancy or the company secretary course. Even the teachers have only half baked information and they guide the students towards the M.Com course. Those with an Economics background do not even know that there is a very famous higher study institution like the Delhi School of Economics. Even the teachers are blissfully unaware of the vast research opportunities available for those who specialize in economics.
The situation in the State Government colleges is worse. This is because of the highest level of security of the teachers in such institutions. They just do not guide the students at all and the poor souls are asked to fend for themselves. In the big cities, these unfortunate souls join some BPO organization for the smallest of wages and then work their way up.
The students need to know everything about B.Sc Visual Communication, or Foreign Trade, or even other courses like music and so on. The scope for new courses is so high today. The need for providing information in all Indian languages and also making the industry specialists share the finer details of what such careers are all about needs to be done extensively. This is something that needs to be done urgently.
Skill-sets that upgrade the competitiveness of rural graduatesThe new courses on data analytics, artificial intelligence, data science, SAP, cloud computing, and so on, are courses that should reach all the rural colleges. For, those who possess at least the basic skills, will find the lower end jobs in the big cities and then work their way up. Even today, those from the rural areas, find some odd institute that trains in the basic for just around Rs.20,000/- and then join the small IT companies for salaries in the Rs.10 to Rs.20 thousand range.
Such courses will soon become the order of the day, even for those who major in the arts and humanities disciplines. For, the reach of IT is so huge and so comprehensive. The only way in which this is possible is through the public-private partnership.
"To be done" initiatives for rural graduatesCareer fairs quarterly have to be conducted in every district headquarter town, throughout India. Furthermore, the corporate houses and the local traders need to support initiatives that can bring the industry experts from the nearest big cities. For example, IT has reached big cities like Bhubaneswar or Coimbatore or Trivandrum. Each of these cities are well connected to the rural colleges. All that needs to be done is through serious initiatives and the role of the local private sector is vital. The respective State Governments may not have all the funds to support such initiatives.
Furthermore, more purposeful and meaningful initiatives in engaging the rural graduates in the internship process in the nearest industrial organizations also need to be taken up on a priority basis. There is nothing that can be done without the active involvement of the Managements of the private rural colleges. That this is lacking at the moment, is a cause for worry and this should change.
Ensuring continuity of changeEven some change is done, it has to be sustained. It cannot be a one-off affair. For, the seriousness will be lost when the movement is not sustained. This is easier said than done, but the change process, however small, is not only imperative but urgent as well.
The different stakeholders involved have to take up this continuity as a challenge and do something about it.
ConclusionCertain actions that can result in meaningful career guidance for rural students have been discussed above. There is a vast scope for innovation as one goes along. The achievements in the form of YouTube videos can also help a great deal in the short term and the long term. Such videos should be produced in all local languages.
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This is a good article bringing out a need for exposure to the rural students for so many things related to education and career that their counterparts are easily getting in the urban or metro environment. The rural students are handicapped in many of these aspects but the gap is slowly narrowing thanks to the internet and online educational and knowledge sharing portals. There are many sites that are delivering free basic courses on so many topics and the student whether he or she is in an urban or rural environment can take advantage of it. The mindset of the teachers and mentors in the Govt institutions especially in rural settings needs to be changed in a way to align with the emerging technologies and changing business environment. The technologies and career plans are changing so fast that even the best students in the best institutions are getting confused and directionless. Learning skills is becoming of paramount importance and rural students should also take advantage of the online facilities in this regard. Govt is slowly moving towards encouraging the setting up of industries in the rural areas and that would be of much help to the rural students as they would be getting the opportunity to see those operations in their areas. In our country, there is a tendency of people to remain in the big cities and metros and try to get a job there only but once the industries start setting up in a big way in the rural areas, that option would be limited. I believe that in the coming times there is going to be a paradigm shift in these matters and the rural students would also be getting the same facilities and environment as our urban students are getting.
An excellent article from the author in which he clearly brought out the actions to be taken to improve their chances of getting employed. I agree with the author that Indian rural youth are not having full knowledge of the opportunities they have to improve their chances of getting employed in a good organization.
A section of rural youth in India even don't know the facilities that are being provided by the governments and the chances that they can avail themselves to improve their financial and general status in society. The main problem in rural areas is the lack of facilities to earn. Only agriculture-based works are there for which there is big competition from the illiterate Indians there.
At the same to get a skilled worker in rural areas is also a big problem and there is nobody to explore that gap. An electrician, a mechanic, or a plumber's availability in these areas is very difficult, At the same time the youth there will never show an inclination to get those skill sets and become their own bosses.
Many private engineering colleges are having buses to commute students in rural areas to their colleges and all are having a liking towards getting a B.Tech degree and but they never know 'What Next'. I feel the governments should create awareness among the rural youth by conducting expert classes in government schools by inviting professionals from industry and seeing that the students will understand the requirements for getting good jobs in various industries and what are the privileges they will get from the government in improving their knowledge and skills. Even in government colleges also the government should open employment cells and the authorities should educate the students about the various opportunities that are available for them and based on that they can choose their career path rather than blindly acquiring degrees and wandering on the roads.
It is the fact that the rural graduates are not exposed to the activities of urban graduates in terms of career guidance and thus it becomes increasingly important for the rural colleges to have the tie up with their urban counterparts so that any campus recruitment done in the city can also be referred to the rural areas. The PR of the college has to take interest and have the contact with top companies so that even the rural students get sufficient openings. Such opportunities and interactions will help to remove the fear among the rural students of facing the campus interview and the PR of respective college has the huge responsibility to create a congenial atmosphere for the same.