Dishti – Volunteering for Skill Gap

 

After Entrepreneurship, Education and a years’ break, I was looking to return to work in 2015. While I was still applying, I refused to kill time. A Social Entrepreneur at heart, I began looking for a weekend Volunteering Opportunity with an Intent to give back to Bengaluru, the City that gave me so much. I scouted for a few opportunities, but none of them were offering me flexibility, and needed a commitment of up to six months. I decided to GO IT ALONE!

I knew my strengths and I decided to share my Key strengths of Creative Collaboration, Technical knowledge on Analytics, and Leadership, along with my Mentoring and Coaching experiences. What better a place to begin, than Students? Especially when the Government and every other part of the Skill Development Ecosystem chant the “Skill Gap Mantra”. So, I quickly checked for opinions from my mentors, friends and, ex-colleagues whom I had trained / mentored / coached before. They were very encouraging and said that I was the right person and I’d do a great job. I felt humbled, and even more motivated to do deliver value.

I drew a plan and designed a “Data Awareness and Analytics” program similar to the one I had offered to 800 New Hires with my previous Employer. I made a list of colleges, and took the Direct Marketing Approach. I spoke about the competitive advantage of my program, along with the marginal pricing. Many Institutions were kind enough to invite me for a pilot session, but non of them were really impressed or excited, “Honestly”. I even approached the Jaya Nagar MLA, who kindly offered to help me by providing a space in Jaya Nagar Shaikshanika Samithi to conduct classes. I completed the program for two batches at various shared locations. All this while, I was still dissatisfied.

I realized, students had no clue of Skill Gap, and were sucked into the whirlpool of marketing techniques by the Training Institutes, and I had just done the same to them. That did not feel good by the way! I do not blame the Training Institutes entirely, as they need to work on profitability as well. There is only one set of jobs, for which a myriad set of institutes are training multiple folds the required number of people. More the merrier! But this still doesn’t solve the problem. Skill Gap still remains. Why? Among many answers, I focused on two:

I. A Part of the answer lies in the parody “Experience Vs Skill”. Employers desire students with “Exposure and Skills”, or Professionals with “Experience and Skill”.  I began talking to Student communities, and Placement Officers, understanding their existing systems,  gaps and their personal needs and challenges in finding jobs or placing students. The result was an enriching knowledge.

II. Another Part of the Answer, became evident from my discussions with students that they needed Empowerment, Mentoring, and Coaching to identify and own their Skill Development. Hence, the Training institutes come later in their requirement, and not initially.

I found a clear GAP. I decided to change my approach and add value by reinventing myself: “Teach a man fishing, than buy him one!”. Fig 1.1 captures The Skill Development Process as defined and seen by students.

Fig1_1Outcome: A thoughtfully and scientifically designed program: DISHTI

I went ahead to take up further research for two weeks to compliment the data from Interviews with students, Faculty and Placement Officers. In 2016, it resulted in a study, titled, “Understanding Skill Gap”. The study revealed startling facts about “Skill Gap”. Here is a textual overview: The overall study reveals:

  1. Skills are a plenty. There is more to confusion than clarity of choice!
  2. Students are driven to up-skill based on external and environmental factors than by their own needs, capabilities and aspirations.
  3. Sadly, Skill Providers are no more than Training Institutions trying to become profitable through volumes. It is therefore necessary to steer the highly capable, agile and powerful student community towards Awareness and Empowerment.
  4. Most Institutions are not equipped to handle this situation and students enroll into programs randomly, without resulting in tangible placements, bearing one or two.
  5. In approximately, a years’ time, after completion of Under Graduate coursework, many Female students quit looking to have careers due to Skill Gap.
  6. Many bright Male students resort to unorganised sectors like Auto / Taxi Driving due to Salary gaps.

The solution to the demand-supply problem of skilled labour and the challenge of Employ-ability, do not need Skill Development Programs but, “Skill Gap Awareness, Empowerment, Mentoring and Counselling Programs”. The study has been updated as of 2017. This report can be availed via e-mail: iamdisht@gmail.com

Based on the results, I designed a program called DISHTI and launched it at Tier II colleges, not infested with “Skill Gap Partnerships”. All the Institutions were very impressed on the program content. The Principal of Govt. R.C. College Dr. Nandavadagi, also, The President, Association of Principals of Govt. Colleges, urged me to offer DISHTI as Orientation to all their First year students in a marathon one week. I still Cherish the 1,000 Rupee Cheque issued by the college, as an honorarium for having shared my time with 1,200 students in a span of two months.

Dishti – Meaning “Vector” and “Auspicious Juncture”, in Sanskrit and Hindi, is a Skill Gap Awareness Program for College Students of all disciplines (Arts, Commerce, Engineering  and Science).

The word IAMDISHT is a name given to students of Dishti, who echo the adoption of the program. When they sign-up, they vow to be vectors, transforming themselves and moving others around them to transform and transpire the change they want to see. Hence, “I  am Vector” is “I am Disht”, and shortly IAMDISHT, a brand students can flaunt.

Aim: My Aim is to build a self-driven, informed student community that owns Self-Development and Employ-ability through Continuous Learning and Development.

Objectives: Create an Awareness among students about the following

  • Motivation: Participatory Activity – 2 hours
    • Goal Setting and Financial Planning
  • Personality Development and Planning Support Survey – 1 hour
  • Momentum: Quiz Based Session – 1 hour
    • National Statistics, Metrics and their true meaning.
    • India’s Need of the hour
    • Recent Business Models
    • Job Market / Scenario
      • New Careers
      • Need for Entrepreneurs
  • Skill Development: Q&A Based session – 2 hours
    • Identifying your Dream Career
    • Resume Writing Tips
    • Skill Gap Awareness
    • Skills advocated by CII
    • Identifying Individual Skill Gaps
    • Importance of Mentoring
    • Self-Reliance: Introduction to Learning from Internet
    • Self-Development: Continuous Learning

The program is thoughtfully and scientifically designed to rope in all these aspects with the intention of Empowering Students to drive Leadership and Progress Commitment.

What can Parents expect out of Students who attended this program?

This session will enable students to achieve Focus on Education, Clarity on Career choices, Planning for future, Experimenting with Entrepreneurship along with Education, and Acting upon Goals.

What and Institutions and Faculty Expect?

  • Greater participation and commitment in the course work from student community
  • Generally more responsible Student Population
  • Self-Motivated, Self-Driven Students

Success Rates: This program has been offered in parts, to 2,000 students successfully, in Bengaluru between 2015 and 2016.  Students have shared their valuable feedback and a survey shows that they would like to

  1. Include such a program as part of college curriculum, which is also my end objective.
  2. Take up Sales and Marketing Jobs and be able to define career progression

Thanks for reading through ! If you wish to go through this program with your friends in your own campus, please email me.

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