Thursday, May 26, 2011

Graduate Unemployment High Due to Lack of Soft Skills - Top CEOs

The Daily Mirror, 26/05/2011, By Keishara Perera

Unemployment levels are high among young graduates, because they lack soft skills such as communication, particularly in English, teamwork and leadership, a panel of eminent local business leaders opined.

At a Leadership Forum held during the SLASSCOM HR Summit, industry leaders Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, Hiran Cooray, Dr. Anush Amarasinghe and Ramesh Schaffter were of the view that university graduates possessed the required technical or hard skills but lacked heavily in soft skills that has resulted in a high rate of unemployment.

“Soft skills such as communication and team work need to be focused more at the school level instead of merely evaluating student’s performance based on examinations,” stressed Dr. Hans Wijesuriya, Group CEO, Dialog Axiata PLC. “If our graduates are to compete globally, the current trend needs to change for the better,” Dr. Wijayasuriya added.

Dr. Anush Amarasinghe, COO, Millennium IT said that graduates need to be continuously innovative and look to organizations that encourage them to be innovative and think creatively, so that they can help the company to stay ahead of competitors.

“Companies should give their graduates the freedom to think out of the box and look for the passion in the person to be different and allow them to work on that,” he stressed.

According to Ramesh Schaffter, Director – Janashakthi Ltd, graduates possess the talent required to handle a job, but it’s the required skills that they lack. “A reason for this could be the fear of Sri Lankan leadership to delegate authority,” he pointed out. “All graduates have the talent but you need to delegate the authority to them, so that they can gradually improve their skills, Schaffter added.

Benolt Millot, President of the JC Eicher Association of Economics of Education (France) and Consultant on Capacity building for the World Bank, was the key note speaker at the Summit. He spoke on “Higher Education and Labour Markets; How do they relate?” He highlighted the importance of promoting integration of work experience in educational programmes, such as internships and said employer’s involvement is critical in all stages of the of the education cycle, while developing core competencies on further training need to be solidly anchored. “Access to information is key for graduate students since they need to be aware of what the labour market requires of them and who companies look for when they do Man Power Planning,” Millot pointed out. He added that these issues cannot be addressed by the Higher Education or Supply side alone, but stressed the fact that adjustments must come from both ends, that is Demand and Supply.

This year’s SLASSCOM HR Summit focused on HR Challenges in Post Conflict Nations.