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Expectation of potential job seekers

KPMG is one of the largest professional services networks, one of the Big Four auditors,
and one of the most coveted and renowned firms in India. Securing a job with any one of
these firms is a ticket to the big leagues.
Employing over 145000 people the world over, approximately 50 55 percent of KPMG Indias
workforce comprises of charted accountants, 35-40 percent comprises of MBAs and Engineers and the
remaining by other specialized degree holders.
Recently, a partner at KPMG India wrote a letter to the India- today generation, published in the New
York Times under the caption, An Open Letter to Indias Graduating Classes. This letter is critical to
say the least if not downright belittling.
The author shares his perspectives about the dearth of high quality candidates available to employers
and the rationale behind this claim. He lists out five basic attributes that an employer looks for and
that seem to be lacking in the prospective employees:

A good command over the English language

Creativity

The ability and courage to ask pertinent questions

A hunger for self-development

Professionalism
It is easy to be offended by this public dressing down but similar sentiments have been echoed
elsewhere. One French insurance company recruiter said: The fluctuating economies globally and the
constant change in customer expectations requires people to think on their toes. This quality can only
be possessed by a candidate with an all rounded personality and not just a mere degree-holder. The
ability to think out of the box and to simultaneously work within an inflexible framework is crucial. MBA
schools that are churning out job applicants by the dozen are not concerned with the incorrect
expectations that they set for their graduates. These applicants will certainly possess degrees, but
without any skill sets to cope with the growing expectations of large MNCs and corporate companies.
That a problem exists is evident. The question that begs consideration is why this problem exists in the
first place. For those of us who have been privileged enough to attend good schools, better colleges
and for some even better post graduate institutions, there should be no excuse. Yet some educational
experiences cannot be ignored.
Creativity amongst students is often stifled by an emphasis on rote learning. Authoritarian teaching
styles and lack of an open learning environment in classrooms discourage students from asking
questions. The average student speaks in at least two languages apart from English. For most people
their mother tongue is also the language they think and process information in. Could this have
something to do with their inability to speak English as if it were their first language? Students are
consistently told that they need to get a good education to get a good (read: high paying) job. Finding
ones calling or true passion is not the focus. This could be why students dont feel the need to get
better at something they dont necessarily enjoy.
Does this justify the fact that employees are unable to meet employer expectations? No. However,
these facts need to be taken into account when trying to understand where the job applicants are
coming from. These are realities that are prevalent when our personalities are in their formative stages
and it will take more than a scathing letter to unlearn and fight instincts that come naturally.
Sangeeta Gole, an educationist and teacher trainer who works as a consultant for schools rightly points
out that change will only happen when we identify the root cause. If the next generation is to
improve, we need to improve the inputs and processes in schools and colleges. Students certainly
need to take responsibility for self-development and sharpening their language skills. However these
changes cannot take place overnight. As a professional in the field of education I cannot bring
systemic changes through casting critical aspersions alone.

Krishna Ramkumar is the co-founder of Avanti Fellows, a non-profit working to widen access to quality
higher education in India. Krishna said: The root cause is a dysfunctional public school system and our
focus on rote learning. However, it is easier to criticise the system than design a solution to address
the problem at scale.
The point? The onus does not and cannot entirely lie with the applicants alone. There has to be a
change in mindset and approach, not just of the graduates but in the entire educational support
system
With the objective of providing quality education Atma partners with organisations such as Avanti
Fellows,Reality Gives, Masoom that use innovative methods to impart education to underprivileged
children and young adults, thus equipping them with skills necessary to pursue higher education and
increase their employability. Atma endorses the need to build capacity of existing educational
organisations and institutions through a widening of outlook and outreach.
Only when we start at the beginning will we be able bring about lasting change.