News Review: Engagement and Retention challenges

It has been a while since I posted here. I have been extremely busy with lots of interesting things happening with me, and I am enjoying my unemployment thoroughly. I have met lots of interesting people over last few months, including a large number of working professionals who are trying to make changes to their career to zoom ahead. I will post some of my insights from them in a later post, but today I wanted to comment on various news articles I read in Indian business newspapers within few days of each other (Jul 11-13, 2012).

Engagement and retention are issues that organizations are increasingly grappling with. Half of the employees leaving within 5 years may not sound very scary, but organizations which rely on their stars to save the day and carry the mediocres along can’t afford to lose 50% of those stars even in a period as long as 5 years. The churn of workforce in India is at all levels (35% have less than 2 years tenure and a 3rd executives planning to change office within 2 years) and one-third think they are not allowed to perform to their potential because of organizational issues. Overall, this doesn’t paint a good picture about Indian Industries and their future. As I have maintained all along, one of the key drivers for engagement is the perception about organization’s willingness and efforts to address career development needs for the employees. Indian companies tend to pay only lip service to this (canned training, manager’s trainings) rather than offer customized and targeted career solutions, at least to their star employees. Continue reading

Indian students in US – comparison with UK and Australia

In my previous post ‘Foreign students in US – China, India, South Korea’, I made the point that India is seeing a downward trend in terms of graduate students over last 3-4 years (while undergraduate has grown slightly), while China has been accelerating at a rapid pace in both graduate and undergraduate. Here is a comment I got on the Indian phenomenon:

I wonder how the trend would be if you were to include Indian students going to other foreign destinations such as Australia, UK etc. May be coming to US has flattened due to tighter visa policy and grim job prospects. Just a thought.

This is a very good point. So I tried to look at UK and Australia data. Strangely (but maybe not so strangely), India doesn’t have such data easily available for its own students, so I had to go look for Australian and UK sources. For Australia, I used Australian Education International‘s site, which has tons of data, and a very handy pivot table available with exactly the data I needed. For UK, I leveraged data available from Higher Education Statistics Agency which publishes (and sells) this data. I had to read through the press releases to get the summary data for China, India and South Korea that I was looking for.

Interestingly, South Korea doesn’t figure in top 10-15 countries which send students to UK, I don’t know why that would be the case. For Australia, South Korea was in top 3, the way it was for US.

Also, both these countries had undergraduate and graduate data combined. Here is what the trend looks like: Continue reading

Foreign students in US – China, India, South Korea

Someone forwarded this article from New York Times: Getting Ahead in India Means Getting Out of Town. Here are some excerpts from the article:

“… is among a rising number of students in India’s rapidly expanding younger population who want, and can pay for, a better education. Yet they know that in a country where thousands apply for each spot at a handful of top universities, the chances of this happening are remote. These students say a good foreign degree will get them a better job and a better life. And if the potential return on investment appears worthwhile, they will put their money on it”

“… the number of Indian students going overseas annually has doubled in the past six years, reaching more than 200,000”

The fact that the education in India at this level lacks in quality is a well-known problem. However, just so you understand the scale, consider this: India produced 400,000 technology graduates and 2.5 million general college graduates (75% of former and 90% of latter are unable to find work – When More is Worse). So we are talking about 7% of graduates coming out of India universities. Story of rest of 93% is much less glamorous – most of these are about sub-par skills and scarcity of jobs in India.

To understand this data about students going to US for higher studies, I also looked at past trends (thanks to Open Doors Data) to understand this phenomenon better. Here are some interesting findings I had: Continue reading

Career Lessons from Indian Movies – Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots

Over last few months, I watched 2 Hindi movies, both by Amir Khan, which reminded me of some of the career lessons I have found useful to follow and to pass-around via my blogs and discussions. The 2 movies are Taare Zameen Par (movie review here) and 3 Idiots (movie review here). While Taare Zameen Par talks about a dyslexic kid totally misunderstood by his parents and finally salvaged by an art teacher in a boarding school, 3 Idiots is the story of 3 college students and friends as they navigate their college days and adult life with different aspirations and different interpretations of what learning and success mean.

These have been commercial successes (3 Idiots is now the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all-time), and they are great films to watch for their entertainment and inspirational values (typical Hindi movies J).

However, here are some of the lessons about career and life that these films depict very beautifully (much better than the ways I have been saying them in my blogs! J): Continue reading

Review of career sites – Mission impossible?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been reviewing some of the career sites that seem to be popular in India. The goal was to understand how good (or bad) these sites are and then hopefully recommend some sites that are useful. However, while going through these sites, I realized that I promised to deliver something which is very hard to achieve. This post discusses my insights from this exercise in a broad sense.

Here is what I tried: I looked up popular sites (based on search results and my review of local ads of these services in India), and proceeded to review their content, presentation and layout, and overall value they offer. In most cases, I had to register for the site, which I did rightfully. Based on what I saw on these sites and what I claim to know of career management, I started to capture comparison parameters to be used across sites. However, most sites fell woefully short of any reasonable utility value to their target audience.

Here are some of the observations I have, based on this exercise: Continue reading

List of career counseling/information sites for review

As I mentioned in my previous post, I plan to review some of the web sites/companies that offer services in the general area of career counseling/guidance/management. Here is the list that I have come up with. Here is how I picked these sites:

  1. Listed some of the web sites that I heard about via TV channels or friends
  2. Did Google search and Live Search on “career management india”, “career counseling India”, and “career guidance india”, and looked at sites listed in top 2-3 pages. I picked the sites which looked useful as well as those which seemed to be used by people (testimonies, client names, etc).

 I have categorized them in 3 buckets:

  1. Counseling/guidance services – These are the sites which offer career counseling and guidance. They typically include training, psychometric tests, some articles, etc.
  2. Career Information Aggregators – These are the sites which have a large list of courses and universities and other study opportunities. They typically have a subsection about career counseling etc, but their main focus is information aggregation.
  3. Job site adjuncts – These are the career center sub-sites of major job sites. Continue reading