Employability programmes are hugely interesting, particularly because they are so popular but still means nothing in particular. While employability schools, courses, self-help materials and even, almost absurdly, certifications are cropping up everywhere, inherent in those programmes is an admission of failure of the education process itself. It is like getting another medicine when medicines have failed, which indicates how students approach education - not with the usual, healthy scepticism of a standard consumer, but with faith befitting a true believer, which bestow more than usual responsibility on an educator, though, at the same time, it makes life easy for a snake-oil salesman.
However, despite my usual aversion for 'employability' programmes, here I am - designing a programme for global employability! I am not hypocritical: I didn't start this, but this is what the customers want. A number of business schools I have been speaking to want a finishing school programme, and even the students want it. The redeeming part of this conversation is that they want something for 'global employability', rather than just how to be employed, so I am taking it for more than which shirt to wear for an interview, going beyond the usual common sense staff, and exploring issues and challenges related to development of a global career.
To be fair, it is not easy to develop a global career. Many people stumble upon it serendipitously, but few build it consciously. And, for those few who deliberately developed a global career, this involves an enormous amount of effort, to cultivate a global social network and development of global skills, something that indeed needs training and a helping hand. So, while we may end up calling it an employability programme (or may be not, I am toying with terms such as Global Career Development), the idea is radically different: This is about understanding the cultural landscape, identifying opportunities, building social capital and connecting up.
In course of my research on employability programmes, I came across a somewhat common format: The student is giving a battery of tests and finally a recommendation, about who he is and what career s/he ought to pursue; then, some training on common sense etiquette, dressing and presentation issues, some advice on CV writing (though Gurus could never agree how CVs should be) and finally, some motivational fluff about everyone can do it. For me, I want to stay out of all these three elements. I believe testing may be fine, but giving definitive 'career recommendations' are downright dangerous, because we know so little about how careers are evolving and all our tests and data are so last century! The common sense etiquette is, well, common sense, and one surely needs to go beyond this if the objective is equip the learners for a global career. Lot of these training programmes tend to become consumer brands and attitudes, to the extent that the trainers end up lecturing on the merits of a Swatch or a Chanel; indeed, I am taken to the concept of a personal style, and would rather have the learner come up and define a personal style for himself/herself rather than being beholden to the brands. And, the same goes for CV writing: Whether the CV should be twenty pages or one, largely depends on the job one is applying for and the applicant. If I am a member of Royal Society and have several publications, I better write twenty pages and put all of those in. If I am not, and only trying to be a salesman, I should write a punchy one-page CV which reads like a sales letter! And, finally, the motivational fluff is out too: That anyone can do it is a given, and if one is not aspirational, one wouldn't be in the course I end up writing.
That's enough ranting! So I am constructing the global employability programme giving equal emphasis to global and employability. On the global side, indeed, I am building an unit to explain the cultural nuances and factors that one must clearly get to manage the global bosses, coworkers, suppliers, customers and subordinates: I am exploring ways to develop global psychological capital, global social capital and global cultural capital, among our learners. Beyond the jargon, we are trying to make them curious, engaged, interested in the world: We are trying to explain to them that global employability is not being an isolated zombie inside some global company office and earning dollars, but belonging there, developing a career and being successful, which means engaging with local norms and customs, making friends and learning and respecting the ways of life. This is indeed very real for me: I have been reasonably successful in my stints in Bangladesh, South-East Asia and England, but not before I learned enough about the country and culture I was in and made local friends. My Linkedin contacts are for real, in any country visit, at least half the people I get to meet are my Linkedin contacts who have become friends, and they come from all over the world. This needed careful cultivation and sincere engagement, and this is what we are trying to convey to our learners.
On the other side, on the employability front, we are working on the framework, eloquently presented by Reed Hoffman and Ben Casnocha in their Start-up of You, that every person is a start-up. Instead of prescriptive views of life and fixed formats of career, we are developing tools, ideas and activities to let the students explore their assets, interrogate their aspirations and explore the market realities; to engage in ABZ planning, wherein they not only fix themselves into the Plan A, but know how to get to Plan B, and also have a fall-back plan; to encourage them to take risks, to adopt and to build networks. We are working alongside them to leverage the power of social media, getting a Linkedin profile properly done up, connecting with people who may help, understanding their social media engagement profile and getting them to tweet and blog, to unleash themselves into the wider world and to connect across the borders. The CV, if they get to write one, is only a derivative of all these activities.
However sceptical I am about the employability stuff, I find this effort immensely interesting. I find this to be an area ripe for disruption: When traditional career models are broken, and no one is courageous enough to admit it, here is our opportunity to create a new kind of education, aligned with the realities of the marketplace, and I suspect, even in line with what the students already think or know.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.