Mere Paas M.A. Hai: Why A Fancy Degree May Not Get You A Job

Posted on May 28, 2015 in Education

By Pallavi Ghosh

Being born into a Bengali middle-class family with its characteristic premium of erudition, a Masters degree is the minimum academic qualification in the family. So, when I completed a Diploma in Journalism back in 2013 instead of a Masters in English, my parents took it as a detour; I was supposed to be right on track pursuing my Masters eventually, which is what I am doing now.

For people like me, academic qualification has been part of a routine that eventually endears oneself to the employment market. Hence, we keep getting one qualification after the other thinking it increases our value in the job market. When seen from the perspective of the mainstream employment bazaar, recruitment on the basis of qualifications is largely still the normative practice. However, alternate roads to employment based on skills and experience also have their space.

Ramneek Banga, who is involved in a programme called Change Looms– that is currently engaging with a hundred social entrepreneurs, shares, “Of course, qualifications are important when one is looking to secure a place in the mainstream job market. However, it is by no means the only way to secure livelihood. We are working with a hundred entrepreneurs who share the passion to bring about change irrespective of their academic backgrounds. Although, an academic qualification is not counter-productive, but the idea is not to base the entire evaluation on the number of degrees one has completed.

This alternate road to success has many famous faces indeed including Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Mark Zuckerberg, Haim Saban, and many more. All of them either never went to college or dropped out in-between.

But for most others, the decision is not an easy one to make. Anwesha Ambaly, pursuing her Masters’ degree from Utkal University, elaborates, “While one would always want to be part of another rag-to-riches story, it is difficult to take risks for people like us; especially when one has responsibilities to fulfil in the family. Being the only child to my ageing parents, the scope of experimenting alternate ways of employment is limited.

However, even with the necessary qualifications, it is uncertain as to how academic proficiency is going to be lucrative for all in the country. According to the University Grants and Commission (UGC), post graduate enrolments comprise 12% of the 20 million students enrolled for higher education. This means that there are about 24, 92, 000 PG students.

With experts having proposed that the 2014 Union budget can help generate 4-5 million jobs in the coming 3-4 years, the sheer mass of population directly seeking absorption into the employment market would mean that around 15-16 million students completing their graduation in 3 years will be rendered jobless or unemployed. Secondly, the distribution in terms of fields of study reveals that there is maximum concentration in the study of Arts (75,39,000) followed by Science (37,90,000) and Commerce and Management (35,71,000). Management of this disproportionately available skill set is another challenge the government is likely to face.

Realistically, therefore, there is going to be a huge section of unemployed in each group with the government seeking ways to distribute the human resource in various sectors. Moreover, the sectors chosen by the government- infrastructure, transport, power, consumer goods, e-commerce, start-ups and tourism- are mostly heavily weighted in favour of the technical knowledge and skill group. This indicates that employment opportunities for people specialised non-technical skills- arts- is likely to be scarcer.

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