New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have decided to groom students before the next placement season to help increase their chances to land jobs. The decision was made after several employers gave feedback that they found students were inadequately prepared, with poor communication skills or business meeting etiquette, ThePrint has learnt.
IITs are now restructuring the placement system and have made grooming lessons compulsory for students. They will receive training on how to dress professionally, speak fluently and tips on attending business meetings or parties.
The placement cells of IITs will take care of the grooming sessions which will be held before and alongside the placement season, starting December.
The issue had first come up during a 2017 meeting between IIT officials and members of the All India Council for Technical Educational (AICTE) when negative feedback received by multi-national firms were discussed.
“The IITs were told that they should focus on grooming of their students since they lack conversation skills and business meeting etiquette. They are intelligent and sharp but they do not exactly know how to present themselves, is the feedback that many employers had given,” said an IIT professor who was present at the meeting.
AICTE has already made changes in its training and placement policy to boost chances for students of engineering, architecture and other technical disciplines of bagging a fancy job.
A placement co-ordinator at IIT-Delhi said, “The placement office will be taking sessions on grooming and developing better communication skills for students as part of the pre-placement training.”
“We have planned mock interviews and group discussions where alumni will come to the campus and interview prospective candidates. This will be a training-cum-grooming session for students who are going to sit for placements,” said Chinmay (who goes by his first name), academic affairs secretary at the placement cell of IIT-Madras.
As a part of the placement policy, the IITs have also told students to maintain at least 80 per cent attendance if they want to sit for placements, register with the training and placement cells and not contact firms individually.
‘Recruits intelligent but lack conversational skills’
Employers and hiring firms associated with the IITs have long felt that students were inadequately prepared and unclear about their goals.
“We hire from IITs all the time. They are all intelligent people but don’t know how to present themselves. We need people for roles where they have to deal with clients – national and international. In such places, it is important that the candidates are well-groomed,” said a senior executive at a prominent company, who did not wish to be named.
Rituparna Chakraborty, president of the Indian Staffing Federation, agreed that it was a challenge often faced by companies hiring graduates from premier institutions.
“There is an attitude issue with graduates, especially those from premier institutes like the IITs. They are intelligent and know their work so well that they think it is not important to pay attention to grooming and presenting themselves professionally,” she said.
Kamal Karanth, co-founder of staffing firm Xpheno, believes there is always a mix bag of students, some of whom can speak and present themselves well.
“Most companies prefer those who are well-rounded and can talk well to their foreign counterparts. MNCs want IITs to focus on grooming of their graduates and not just teach them technology and professional skills,” the former MD of American staffing firm Kelly Services told ThePrint.
At IIT-Hyderabad, sufficient credits are included on liberal arts, film-making, theatre, professional development, Japanese language and culture, among other fields as part of its fractal academics curriculum, said Pradeep Yemula, its faculty-in-charge (placements). The institute does not organise additional outside training on personality development.
“In order to prepare students for placement activity, IIT-Guwahati provides soft skill training to fourth-year undergraduate and second-year postgraduate students. During the training, they are groomed on various skills starting from aptitude preparation, resume building, placement etiquette as well as English communication,” said Abhishek Kumar, faculty coordinator, (internship and personality development), Centre for Career Development, IIT Guwahati.
Kumar added that the institute has taken help of private agencies to hold grooming sessions for students.