Wednesday, July 27, 2005

CET: Common Employability Test?

Commenting on a proposal by NASSCOM a few days ago to collaborate with AICTE in curriculum development, I suggested that NASSCOM should also examine the possibility of organizing a common, nation-wide test -- in aptitude, mental ability, proficiency, etc -- that all undergraduates can take; such a test will obviate the need for screening tests by individual companies everytime they want to recruit.

Dinesh Varma reported Monday in the Hindu (Chennai edition) that a company called MeritTrac offers such an exam; the company's analysis of the results of some 25,000 students who took the test from all over India has led to some striking conclusions:

... [Candidates] with a good academic background did not necessarily do well in the test ... The low correlation between academic track record and skill sets that determine employability indicates that the academic system is not well aligned with the industry expectations.

... [With] some training/orientation (from the industry), the percentage of candidates qualifying for employment would jump by at least 30 per cent without compromise on the standards adopted by recruiters.

While the industry focus is more on technical and communication skills as compared to analytical and reasoning abilities, the actual technical skill levels of students is higher than industry expectations.