15 Jul 2016 19:12 IST

How Campustowork matches skills to jobs

The Cambridge English initiative helps job-seekers find the right career fit for their qualifications

That engineering is no longer the default career choice for the lakhs of students leaving school every year is obvious from the dwindling number of applications to engineering colleges. With school-leavers opting for a myriad other courses, engineering seats have been going a begging for some years now. In Tamil Nadu alone, the number of students who applied for engineering courses through Anna University in academic year 2016-17 dropped to 1,33,000 from 1,54,238 the previous year.

The huge number of engineering colleges, set up in response to growing demand over the last few decades, may be one reason for this, as not all their graduates can find jobs. The number of unemployed engineers is as high as a quarter of the 1.5 million who graduate every year. The other issue is one of employability, a word that often crops up in conversations with top managements of corporates, PSUs and educational institutions, which find most graduates from engineering and management schools unable to adequately translate their academic learnings to on-the-job competence.

Connecting campuses to corporates

Vital factors that make for better ‘employability’ are language strength and good communication skills. A new effort to address this comes from an unlikely quarter: CampustoWork ( ctw), an initiative of Cambridge English Language Assessment, a part of Cambridge University. Cambridge English has, for over 20 years, conducted training programmes in schools across India, helping students learn English in a professional way, and imparting communication skills to help them land a job more easily.

Campustowork.org seems to be a natural progression from this activity. The portal brings together corporates and educational institutions to match candidates who possess the right communication skills and qualifications with the job most suitable for them.

Connecting the students who graduate every year with organisations that are the best fit for them is, no doubt, difficult. Employers too face the challenge of recruiting candidates with the right mix of technical and communication skills for the position on offer. Campustowork bridges this divide by providing educational institutions a free platform to showcase their strengths as partners from where key employers can hire the right candidates. The corporates, in turn, have access to a talent pool that has English language communication skills expressed in terms of Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels.

Smaller firms on board too

The response to the portal has been better than its managers could have imagined.

TK Arunachalam, Regional Director, South Asia, Cambridge English Language Assessment, says: “In just the first two weeks since it went live, still in its beta version, 101 companies, including Sify, signed up on the portal, more than the number of colleges that were on board! The bulk of these are not big consumer goods or e-commerce companies or IT majors but small and medium entities that need good people and see value in the name behind a portal such as campustowork.”

 

Now, a few months later, 142 corporates and 119 educational institutions are registered with the portal. Some companies on board are American Express, Hinduja Global Solutions, Luminous Power Tech, Pramati Technologies and Transformers and Rectifiers India. Among the institutions are Sathyabama University, Chennai; Birla Institute of Management Technology, Bhubaneshwar; RMK College of Engineering and Technology, Chennai; Mar Ivanios College, Thiruvananthapuram; and Acharya Patashala College of Engineering, Bengaluru.

Many of the companies, says Arunachalam, do not recruit from campuses directly but want their brands to be promoted and see themselves as important recruiters too, on par with an Infosys or a TCS. Their potential hires need not be from the IIMs or IITs either.

“Such companies are fine with hiring from the Tier 2 and 3 colleges, as long as the candidate is suitable for the job,” he says, adding, “The institutions signed up with campustowork include arts and science colleges too. And we plan to include skill development centres as well.”

“The registration is completely free,” says Arunachalam. “Once institutions register, the specific support we offer gets better the more details they upload, about new courses, campus news, events, activities and student achievements.”

Easy user interface

Cambridge English approaches the companies directly to rope them into the ctw portal, the same way that it goes to the institutions and gets them to specify their requirements.

The companies can advertise for any kind of job. The interface is simple and the user experience seamless, says Arunachalam. The employer search is well refined; companies can search by qualifications, skills, cities, and so on. They can also write directly to an institution, describing their requirement and seeking a suitable candidate.

The benefit to Cambridge English (CE) from this venture is, at best, indirect as it motivates students to perform better. The fact that their seniors have signed up for corporate placements through ctw is bound to motivate freshers in a registered college or university to acquire greater communication skills. As more youngsters are inspired to gain higher language and communication proficiency, this, in turn, creates an environment where such aptitude is highly valued. Creating such an ecosystem is important for CE.

Ctw is open to working with partners that have similar goals, such as skill development centres, which are also interested in the business of placements and ensuring a good fit for both candidate and company.

As Cambridge English operates out of the UK, it is governed by strict data privacy and protection laws. Student data is thus automatically protected. An institution cannot put out individual scores, only a range of marks or scores in a class, or a CGPA band.

Effective communication

“The job scene in India requires a variety of skills,” Arunachalam says, adding that “it’s not just language but other behavioural traits and vertical-specific capabilities that form part of the candidate’s strengths. Several context-focused and topical skills are needed in a range of industries and the need to be ‘future-ready’ is talked about a lot.”

Language and effective communication are crucial aspects of such readiness, and, through this portal, Cambridge English focuses on the communication skills of individuals in enabling them to grow as global leaders.

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