IIT Mumbai Placement statistics caught everyone’s attention early this month when it reported that 36% students could not secure job offers this year. The same statistic stood at approximately 32% last year. This alone was worrying enough, considering that IIT Mumbai would attract some of the top talent from the country. But if seen in conjunction with the mass layoffs that we have witnessed over the last eighteen months, it should make each one of us sit up and take stock of what is happening before it is too late.

While the causes have been debated adnauseam, from fast adoption of technology leading to change in required knowledge and skill sets, educational curriculum not keeping pace, to increased productivity leading to reduction in number of jobs as well as change in nature of jobs, to geo-political and economic ambiguity, It is time we took a hard look of the impact and what needs to be done.

Let’s look at the mid to long term impact of reduction in job offers and layoffs in the country-

• Dampened Consumption
: Mass layoffs and underemployment lead to a decrease in disposable income, reducing aggregate demand and hindering economic growth. Consumers tighten their spending, impacting businesses across sectors.

• Skill Mismatch: When layoffs target specific industries due to automation or technological advancements, it creates a skills gap in the workforce. The displaced workers might not possess the competencies required for new opportunities, leading to prolonged unemployment and a decline in human capital.

• Lower Tax Revenue: With fewer people employed and lower wages, tax collection falls, impacting government spending on social programs, infrastructure, and education, further hindering economic development.

• Innovation Stifled: Underemployment can lead to a less dynamic workforce. Discouraged workers might be less motivated to innovate or develop new skills, impacting long-term productivity and competitiveness.

• Mass burnout– The emotional and mental impact on a large percentage of the population, those directly impacted and those indirectly impacted might not be measurable, but will be palpable.

As a result, many have started wondering if India is emerging as a K-Shaped Economy. In a K-shaped economy, some industries and groups grow while others struggle, leading to an inequitable distribution of wealth.

Lagging job growth

Some argue that India is exhibiting signs of a K-shaped recovery, with certain industries flourishing, but with increasing concerns about lagging job growth in other sectors, reduced job offers and increasing layoffs.

For the long term sustainable benefit of the economy, the nation and people, it is essential that we take a hard look at every causal and address them systemically. It will include relooking at educational curriculum and partnerships bet Educational system and corporates. Further, adoption of technology should be a productivity booster but at the same time organisations and government should look at newly carved out roles and focus on extensive reskilling and upskilling programs.

Bridging the Gap: A Multi-Stakeholder Approach


Policy and Regulation:
The government can introduce policies promoting vocational training, apprenticeships, and industry-academia collaboration. Regulatory frameworks can incentivize corporates to invest in skill development.
Upgrade Education System: Revamping the curriculum to focus on industry-relevant skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving is crucial. Additionally, promoting STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is essential.
Institutionalise Governance model around ethical technology adoption- Any new innovation without governance in place can create ethical and moral dilemmas. The lure of profits and productivity can blur lines between what is being done and what is the right thing to do. Technology is a gift and an enabler, but not a destination in itself.

Skill Development Programs: Companies can invest in training programs to equip their workforce with the latest skills and technologies. This can involve collaborating with educational institutions to creating and deploying customized curriculum within their organisations and at the institute as well.
Apprenticeships: Offering apprenticeships provides students with on-the-job training and practical experience, improving their employability.
Role of Alumni- Well placed senior Alumni should keep their alma mater updated about new role creation, knowledge and skills requirements and possibly also volunteer time to help co-create curriculum or disseminate knowledge.

Educational Institutes:
Curriculum Modernization: Educational institutions must adapt their curriculum to reflect the evolving needs of the job market. This includes incorporating industry-specific skills, soft skills development, and continuous learning opportunities.
Industry Collaboration: Partnering with corporations allows institutes to tailor their programs to industry requirements and provide students with exposure to real-world work scenarios.
Lifelong Learning: The concept of a fixed skillset is outdated. Students must embrace lifelong learning to keep pace with technological advancements and adapt to a dynamic job market.
Proactive Skill Development: Students should actively seek opportunities to develop in-demand skills. This can involve taking online courses, attending workshops, or participating in hackathons.
There would be times when students will get internships or industry exposure, a live project or a research project without a stipend. They should grab the opportunity because every experience counts. Secondly, the more they interact with different companies and teams, the build a network which will come in handy in the long run.
Beyond Technical Skills: Behavioral Competencies for Success

Technical know-how is necessary, but behavioral competencies are equally important in today’s workplace. Here are some key areas:

Communication: The ability to clearly articulate ideas, both verbally and in writing, is essential for collaboration and building strong relationships.
Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: The capacity to analyze situations, identify problems, and develop effective solutions is highly valued by employers.
Collaboration and Teamwork: The ability to work effectively with others towards a common goal is crucial in today’s team-oriented work environments.
Adaptability and Agility: The ability to learn new things quickly, embrace change, and thrive in uncertain environments is a valuable asset.
Leadership: While not every role requires leadership skills, demonstrating initiative, taking responsibility, and inspiring others can be advantageous.
Overall, mass layoffs and underemployment create a domino effect with long-lasting negative consequences for the economy. It reduces consumer spending, widens the skill gap, hinders innovation, and limits government resources for crucial programs. These factors combined can lead to economic stagnation and decreased opportunities for future generations.

By addressing the skill gap through a collaborative effort involving the government, corporates, educational institutions, and students themselves, India can create a more resilient and inclusive economy that benefits all.

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