Soft Skills - Indian Scenario

“ Skill is the unified force of experience, intellect and passion in their operation.”
John Ruskin

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Having achieved considerable success in the many new service sectors in the past decade, India has proved that she is competitive in many of the global industries. But sadly, now the sustainability of this growth is being doubted due to serious challenges on the human resources front.

There is no argument regarding the importance of technical knowledge but this knowledge alone is not enough to create value for the customer or to achieve career progression.  The deficiencies in our education system which neglects preparing the students for a good work environment, are now being felt. The technical knowledge imparted in our educational institutions as one of the finest but what is lacking in the system is exposure to the industry and soft skills development. The campus recruitments across the country turn out to be disappointing for both – the companies and the aspiring candidates. The brightest of students of an institution do not get selected because of  their limited English language capabilities, weak communication and interpersonal skills. Most companies find quantity and not quality and there seems to be a dearth of properly groomed candidates.

On the flip side because of the exponential growth being seen in most of the sectors, the attrition levels are alarmingly high. The scarce talent available gets shared between the international openings and the top companies. The obvious compromise being made by most companies in recruiting the candidates is a dangerous trend for the future. To make matters worse small and mid sized companies promote people in record time.   These employees are often expected to take on new roles and responsibilities well before they have developed the skills, knowledge and maturity necessary for the roles they take up. Immature and inexperienced managers in turn contribute to increased attrition rates, thus creating a vicious cycle. The soft skills are essential for working with colleagues, customers, suppliers, and with their counterparts across countries and cultures. The scenario for larger companies in the Indian environment is not much different and these challenges if not handled effectively are being seen as a threat for the future.

As an employee moves up the hierarchical ladder the usage of his or her technical knowledge keeps getting replaced with the man-management skills. To manage people and business is very different from managing machines and programs. In industries with high growth rates, the requirement of improving soft skills of the employees is increasingly growing.

The list of the needed soft-skills could be very large but the basics can be termed as the following :

i. Interpersonal skills

ii. Team spirit

iii. Social grace

iv. Business etiquette

v. Negotiation skills

vi. Behavioural traits such as attitude, motivation and time management

There is imperative need for very organization to provide soft skill training to it’s employees and in turn to safeguard itself from a cultural assault which may be extremely difficult to handle and treat. Productivity is not what gets churned out today but more importantly hinges on the steadfastness of the results and outflow.

Why is training essential ?

How difficult is for a person to admit the weaknesses or shortcomings is not to be mentioned. Apart from this ‘I-know-all’ attitude the environment is another reason for the person not to consider the required changes. The obvious thought comes to the mind is that when everybody else around does a thing in a particular manner, then why should one go out of the way to do it properly. Behaviours breed habits and as long as the environment allows they do not catch attention. As soon as these employees move out of this environment they suddenly find themselves in an alien atmosphere where they are expected to start performing from day one. The skills which could have been picked up earlier become essential for success and spending time and efforts on them makes one feel pressured and culturally burdened.

Not only that the people must be imparted soft skills but companies must make sure that the practices and culture within the organsation should be ‘globally-homogeneous’.