Skill gap in the industry to reform management education

Inderpal Singh
Inderpal Singh
Posted on 02 Sep 2022
15:19 PM

Prof. Inderpal Singh

Employability for today’s generation is the sum of digital skills, human skills and learning skills
Ironically, in the country, there is a large number of unemployed graduates while the industry has plenty of vacancies but cannot find people with the right skill sets
Management education needs to continuously evolve to ensure learners obtain the skills that are required by an ever-changing and demanding industry

Prof. Inderpal Singh, Director, Skill Development, Universal Business School, Mumbai

Prof. Singh has more than 20 years of experience as a sales and marketing expert and a successful entrepreneur, during which time he has held executive positions in numerous well-known companies. Having obtained an MDP in Retail Management from IIM-Ahmedabad and another in Case Writing and Teaching from ISB, Mohali, he has been employing the case study technique in his training sessions and interactions with aspiring Student Managers. He passionately believes in guiding students to become future managers by helping them understand their individual potential and work on their skills to accomplish the best for themselves in their various career paths.


Regular reports from various research and consulting organisations have always been stressing on the need for upskilling, which has led to a large percentage of the learner population being unemployable. In the Indian context, an average of just 35 - 40% of management and engineering graduates are found to be employable. The irony here is that there is a large number of unemployed graduates while the industry has plenty of vacancies but cannot find people with the right skill sets.

Employability today is the sum of digital skills, human skills and learning skills.

As Alvin Toffler famously wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

A report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute in 2018 predicted a shortfall in employment from 2018 to 2028 leading to about 2.4 million jobs remaining unfilled due to a mismatch between the skills possessed and the skills required.

Another report suggests that closing the global skills gap could add US$11.5 trillion to the global GDP by 2028.

The recent situation of the world being hit by the covid virus has increased the need for upskilling and highlighted the shift that is needed in training management graduates on skills that make them more employable. Technology has been the major disruptor as well as enabler during this period. New concepts like Blockchain, AI, and ML have created a demand for technologically savvy manpower.

Management education needs to continuously evolve to ensure learners obtain the skills that are required by an ever-changing and demanding industry. The industry has been challenged by disruption in technology, and changing work expectations and has been largely impacted by a change in demographics. It has become ever more important to ensure there is a close industry-academia interaction for management education to remain relevant to the demands of the industry.

The regular modules from traditional management education need to be bolstered with a larger focus on the application of concepts and therefore need to move to an experiential learning model, further supported by industry professionals sharing experiences with management graduates through community learning. Management education should ensure that future generations of human resources are armed with relevant skills and knowledge ensuring value for the business and the country.

This has brought to light certain skills, called 21st-century skills, that need to be taught in management schools. Management education, therefore, needs to shift focus to these new skills which include the ones listed below.

Literacy Skills

With the immense amount of data that is available at the tip of a fingertip, it is important to be able to discern the relevant from the irrelevant. It is key to identify trustworthy sources of information to get correct data which is difficult to sift through in this age of chronic misinformation. The following 3 skills fall under the purview of literacy skills

  • Information literacy
  • Media literacy
  • Technological literacy

Learning Skills:

Changing paradigms in learning due to the advent of technology and shorter attention spans have necessitated a deeper focus on learning skills.

Learners need to be able to think out of the box while finding solutions to new-age business problems leading to improvement.

Communication and collaboration have become essential for individuals to avoid confusion in the workplace and build focus on the larger picture of ensuring company growth.

Management education institutions need to focus on the following areas:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

Life Skills:

The skills that are most underrated but the most essential for a manager in today’s VUCA world are the life skills listed below that help one to succeed in the highly competitive and fast-changing world today.

  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Productivity
  • Social skills

Business Management is a key component of any business and having the right people would ensure its success. Therefore, Educational Institutions and Businesses need to come together and cooperate to identify future market demands and build educational modules that match the industry demands.

Increasingly with the start-up fad, most graduates are shifting to becoming entrepreneurs which on the face of it seems a good thing to do. However, the market is highly uncertain and volatile and the inability to face failure leads most to ruin. The persistence needed to build a business and endure the challenges that come along with an entrepreneurial venture are areas that management institutions need to prepare the learners for along with the skills to overcome these setbacks.

The skills gap will continue to increase if institutions for management learning and businesses do not help learners to improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Business Schools need to emphasise programs focusing on personality enhancement, corporate/ industry mentoring, and learning through cases or live projects to ensure that employability skills are ingrained in each learner. They need to become locations of ‘Knowledge Creation” rather than “Knowledge Dissemination”. Probably, the shift from pedagogy to andragogy is more pronounced now than ever. This would set them and their learners apart, ensuring quality employment and protecting them from technology-caused job losses.

Organizations no longer reward learners for what they know but for what they can do with what they know.

We need to prioritise ‘skills’ over ‘credentials’

Last updated on 02 Sep 2022
15:19 PM
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