13Apr2018

People skills versus Knowledge skills

Recently I facilitated the doHow® Engineering Graduate Success Edition Engagement Game sessions for engineering graduate students in two engineering colleges. One 70+ years old, one of the top 3 engineering colleges in Bengaluru and the other almost 20 years old featuring lower down the list of engineering colleges in Bengaluru.

 

The number of students in both were about 100 and the duration was the same – about 60 minutes. Teams with 2, 3 or 4 students mostly made up of students sitting in was row played the doHow® Game. Of course, the background and the quality of the students was quite different. I am writing only the commonalities that I observed in both the sessions.

 

  1. Some teams could collaborate very easily, while some found it rather difficult.
  2. Some students had difficulty in integrating themselves in the teams.
  3. All the students could generate insights through lateral thinking.
  4. All the students were fully engaged, some individually though, in playing the doHow® game.
  5. Most of the students found it uneasy initially, since intentionally the way to play the game was not spoon fed. However, after 3-5 rounds most of them picked up and participated.

 

In both the cases, I reflected my student days in early 1980s. The life was totally a different one, but for some of my friends having a bike or scooter and most of us having a cycle. Many had a B&W TV at home, some Colour TV and few had VCRs too. Whereas now, everyone has a Smartphone with unlimited APPs connected through high speed internet – an unimaginable access to information, which was not at all easy in our days.

 

Our main activity was chatting and imagining the world outside as we spent hours discussing on various topics in groups. Whereas, now the main activity seems to be interacting with the Smartphone. This contrasting situation kept me thinking, if the younger generation who are exponentially better informed that mine fundamentally lack in people and soft skills!

 

Shouldn’t the schools and colleges be introducing standard activities as part of the curriculum where the students are required to just discuss and imaging ways of further improving our society? Could facilitating such discussions is a challenge to the faculty, who have been so used to delivering lectures and teaching from the prescribed books, what the students probably already know? Is this the reason why industry keeps complaining that today’s graduates are not employable?

 

When it comes to employability, I believe the following three attributes are fundamentally necessary.

 

  1. Ability to identify, rope in and collaborate with others
  2. Strong inquisitiveness and a keen desire to learn
  3. Problem solving ability for applying the learning

 

I wonder if our education system if addressing these three issues or remodeling the syllabus to teach the actual industry practices, which the employer in any case will do during the orientation?

 

Happy thinking for a better society!