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Introduction

This is to inform you all that team uKnowva, in association with SkillsConnect, Acura Solutions, and Ace Human Capital Limited, once again organised an exemplary webinar on 27th April 2024.

The topic of this webinar was: “Skills Needed Other Than Academics by Freshers”, where we invited our esteemed speakers, like Mekhla Munshi (Vice President - Human Resources, John Cockerill), Eric James (HR Director - Learning, OD, Inclusion & Diversity, Flipkart), Rohan Sahni (Associate Director Human Resources, Jubilant Biosys Limited), and Nisha Gupta Malhotra (General Manager - HR & Admin at Socomec Group).

The entire session was anchored and hosted by Nilakantan Govindan (Ex VP HR, Reliance Retail, Chief Mentor, SkillsConnect).

Now, let’s dive deeper into this webinar key insights to give you recap, in case you missed out on it. Later, we will provide you with a relevant link to the entire session to reshare and listen again. 

Skills Needed Other Than Academics by Freshers Recap:

Ranu Parwal (Founder, SkillsConnect.in and Acura Solutions) initiated the conversation by stating, “58% of the hiring managers look at percentage or the CGPAs as per a survey, while 82% of the people look at problem-solving, 80% percentage of them talk about the teamwork, 75% of them talk about aptitude skills.”

He stated how our New Education Policy emphasises on holistic transformation with focus on evolving needs of the society. The requirements are global competitiveness, multiple disciplinary approaches, and research-oriented education. 

Further, he introduced everyone on the panel, including the speakers. Then we moved ahead to watch the AI-generated video on SkillsConnect’s offering before delegating the baton of anchoring the show to Nilakantan Govindan while discussing each question at great length with the speakers we will be introducing one after another below. 

Discussion on skills required for freshers beyond academics:

Nilakantan Govindan initiated the conversation by stating that the whole purpose of this conversation will be to pick your brains, look at your wisdom and knowledge, and give a perspective to the students and the community at large in terms of the subject of the webinar “Skills Needed Other Than Academics by Freshers”.

He started the discussion then with Mekhla Munshi (Vice President - Human Resources, John Cockerill), asking that colleges are facing great challenges with various reports backing that statement. Candidates are still left to be placed after the final round of campus interviews. 

However, we wanted to understand if it is still a big challenge as it is being lauded in reports and news articles? Or is there something that the academics fail to teach students in terms of skills to get hired fast? Thus, he took the question ahead and asked her to narrate the list of such skills which the fresh graduates must have for increasing the chances of their employability. 

Mekhla Munshi explained that there are quite a few things.

  • First - it is the ability to apply the knowledge that you learnt in your academics to work. 
  • Next - she said there are several soft skills that may not be explicitly taught to students during their college days. 

These skills are none other than:

Resilience and dependability. 

“Companies want to build the skill pool and give opportunities to fresh talent.” 

  • Mekhla Munshi (Vice President - Human Resources, John Cockerill)

Learning to say no and stick to the deliverables at work is another skill to harp on while increasing your dependability quotient. Another skill she mentioned is that students must be very keen to learn what they’re hired for. You have to be curious, go up to people, and ask them to teach you something. 

From there on, Rohan Sahni (Associate Director Human Resources, Jubilant Biosys Limited), took the discussion ahead. He commented, the only thing he looks for while hiring super talent is asking candidates about the biggest problem of their life they have solved to date. 

He believes experience is limited for freshers, even in the capacity of internship. However, life experience is something that holds immense value. 

“Try to look around and solve problems for yourself and others. Do not seek for opportunities but become a helping hand first at personal or professional front to understand and implement your solution-oriented skills.”

  • Rohan Sahni (Associate Director Human Resources, Jubilant Biosys Limited), 

Eric James (HR Director - Learning, OD, Inclusion & Diversity, Flipkart) also cast his point of view on “hidden gems that can impress an employer”: 

Interviewers look at the integration of skills candidates have both from their personal and professional lives. He looks for certain things and skills while interviewing people, including:

  • Authenticity - to show how honest a candidate can be. How can the candidate narrate stories of their lives that have led to some sort of learning in their life?
  • Communication - to communicate more clearly and coherently is the key. It means how do you look at life from a particular lens. 
  • Projects - students or candidates must have worked on some projects at their home or school without knowing actually the importance of the same. They can share insights and convert those skills into transferable ones when they’re hired. 
  • Problem-solving - Eric looks at the approach of the person while interviewing them to know how they tackle a problem which nobody has solved easily before in their vicinity. 

Nisha Gupta Malhotra (General Manager - HR & Admin at Socomec Group) threw her point of view on “how can employers be attracted to certain skills which candidates project,” commenting that:

Teamwork and collaboration are something that does not just come from the professional world. She interviews freshers to understand how they have collaborated with other people in their college events, fests, etc. 

She questions candidates on the following:

  • How are you as a collaborator?
  • How are you as a team leader?
  • Are you a follower or a leader?

With such stories and examples, it is easier to understand whether someone is a leader, collaborator, team worker, etc. 

“Your experience of the real world matters more than your experience of the corporate world as a fresher.”

  • Nisha Gupta Malhotra (General Manager - HR & Admin at Socomec Group)

She also looks forward to knowing how these candidates network with one another, and not just on social media but also professionally. Are they keen to network, and seek mentorship from leaders?

Campus to Corporate Transition Recap:

At the later half of the webinar, Mekhla commented that there is continuous need to revisit the campus to corporate transition programs. It is because every few years skills required by the corporate are changing. 

Today, we need students equipped with data analytics, AI tools, advanced Excel, pivoting, macros, etc. Campuses must have constant contact with corporates to know the relevancy of skills to improve the chances of success of getting hired as soon as possible through placement drives. 

Campuses must also see whether they can help students equip those skills and keep corporates in loop for the same. Such programs will definitely make a vast difference, according to Mekhla. 

Nisha took the talk ahead by narrating an example:

In the past, we actually put our product in the college as a part of their curriculum to test in the lab and get familiar with the system to hire these people in chunks after 1-2 years of training. 

Eric, too, had his point of view on this, stating what corporate connect means to him and how corporations can build a program to ensure this.

He talked about two approaches to the question to answer. One is a structured approach where corporates would have to go to the campus and train people. For instance, eCommerce is now a very crucial part of students’ curriculum to become familiar with brands like Flipkart and its working mechanisms. 

Corporates often invest more in upskilling and skill development.

The second approach is to put out problem statements for students to solve. Fresh compete on solving these problems and discover their own capacity to solve complex business problems. 

They also research papers with campuses to solve a particular problem backed by extensive research from students. 

End of the session and Q/A:

Vicky Jain (Founder & CEO, uKnowva HRMS) also ended the session while stating that it was a great session and started taking up Q/A for the panellists to put a limelight on as the webinar came to a close. 

“Information is not the problem when harnessing soft skills; motivation is! That is because some might be afraid or do not have a habit like reading.”

Conclusion:

In this webinar, we had a great discussion deciphering the development of today- and tomorrow-ready skills required by freshers beyond academics. Each speaker had an extensive point of view even when we ran a few publicly asked questions to them. 

Overall the webinar on Skills Needed Other Than Academics by Freshers was a major success. The discussion lasted for about 90 minutes on the zoom call with our four esteemed speakers.

YouTube link of the webinar recording:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWHVDTTMo_k

Watch the entire session once again by revisiting the link posted above. Feel free to share this with your networks as well!

 

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