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The "Quality of Talent" Debate

An Open Letter to India’s Graduating Classes from a KPMG partner is both eye-opening and outrage-inducing. He talks about how our graduating students are hardly prepared for the real world in terms of skills, problem solving ability, learning new things and being really professional. With very notable exceptions I cannot but agree; in general, there is an overall sense of entitlement, a lot of job-hopping and resume-shopping, a questionable work-ethic or a lack of "professionalism". It is difficult to find the right attitude and aptitude in the same person, and the cost-benefit equation can be exceptionally skewed. Some people price themselves out of the market.

But please note that these large type of companies are also to blame. Those that demand longer hours "when required" tend to be those that demand longer hours all the time, unless you have an emergency that your house is on fire and you can actually smell the smoke on the phone. Those that pretend to a potential customer that they are skilled in a certain technology, and then beg an independent consultant who actually does have that skill to sit in a conference call pretending to be a long-term employee. Then those that double-bill their clients on the number of hours worked because, well because they can. Those financial service companies and banks that tell their managers to lie outright to their customers, even if they are old and widowed and all that. The lala companies where you are expected to be a boss’s man-friday. Those that refuse to give you your gratuity or PF benefits when you leave, or create unnecessary delays of months or years. And those that expect loyalty from you while, at the same time, giving a newcomer a salary twice yours as a "market" figure while he contributes far lesser than you. I’m sure you can think of more.

Everyone can rant and rave. Butevery dog has his day. Today, certain people are in demand. Tomorrow, unless they upgrade their skills, they won’t be. Today just a large company’s name is enough to get people to join it. Tomorrow, even they will have to grin and be proper employers to get the quality people they want. For years, new chartered accountants had no option but to work at salaries like Rs. 5,000 per month as an "apprentice" at large CA firms, working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Today they can get 5 times that much at newer firms and IT companies, and the old CA firms crib and crib and crib. Times change. People change, or get left behind.

I have, early in my career, taken Rs. 30 as auto fare as a reimbursement when I actually travelled by bus. I haven’t job hopped (how do you do that as an entrepreneur?) but I’ve hired those who did (which in a way is my fault). I’m definitely inconsistent, being arbitrary when I wanted and demanding fairness otherwise. I hope I’ve changed, but it sometimes took an exiting employee to help me. I’ll probably be both an employee and employer in the future. And I hope people (including me!) will change for the better, that companies will be better places to work.

  • subra says:

    i was also aghast when i read it. Not even sure how much of the blame for these kids should be taken by me and many of us born in the ’60s. Have done a post on this too…it will show up in a day or two. If China, Arab, Brazilian, American, ….cos. can take from here, hey these kids are not too bad, right. Sick of people thinking that God threw away the mould after making them. Sucks man.

    • Agree completely. It’s very scary when you meet people who think they know everything! Thing is – I think the same kids do very well abroad, so it’s probably the environment. Like the people who spit paan on the road will not do so in the Metro (speaking of Delhi), or on a mall’s polished floor. There’s a turning point somewhere.

  • Niranjan says:

    A good counter post by Arnab ( Great Bong) in case you have not read it earlier

  • prabee says:

    Well the mind set of today’s professionals is not the same. When your job is not guaranteed for until you are 50 or 55 one would generally think of making best out of the time at hand.
    I personally know big MNC throw 8-10 months into the job graduates out without any reason given with a simple meeting asking them to leave during early part of 2009. One more top Indian IT company made token offer to graduates in campus hiring and never sent them offer letter after making them wait(with promise of letter soon) for 10 months(Most colleges had rule of not letting students take part in any other campus recruitment drive after he is given a token offer). How could an employer expect them no to do job hopping and put in extra hours when required.
    Its simply “Gives respect Take Respect” environment out here.