This has been quite a pet peeve of mine and have been vocal in the past on number of forums

I believe that ‘Graduation’ is just a continuation of School with lesser rules, and yes needs completion. But it is during these three years, that children need to mature enough to understand their calling and work towards that.

A couple of weeks, some students from Somaiya college – via Yashesh invited me to speak with them about “Future of Retail – technology, crowd-sourcing, social media influencers” I was pretty gungho with the topic, hoping to learn from the under grads given the fact that they would be pretty clued in at least about Technology & Social Media.

As is my endeavour – that it should always be interactive, I had prepared a small (less than 10 slides) presentation based on common knowledge and some thoughts from my blog. I was heartened with the response, with nearly 40+ students in the auditorium waiting to listen (In our days this would have been rare 😉 or at least the group I was in)

I began quickly – managed to identify pockets of inquisitive & eager students spread across – started addressing questions across and the shock set in.

  • Very few had questions
  • Barely a couple of them answered
  • Technology to them was MS office, internet etc
  • Social Media was FaceBook – absolutely no knowledge of anything else, with a couple of them claiming to have Twitter account. (Not that this was a bad thing)
  • Crowd Sourcing was a ‘Big Blank’ Here the examples of Appnet; Girish Mallya; Shubhashish amongst others made some sense to them.

An interesting two hours ended soon with hopefully their learning something, whilst I definitely did.

Having coffee, before making the long trip back home, I was shocked to learn that all of them were not “under grads” as I believed but “Post Grads” and they would soon be in their 2nd year and were looking for jobs also.

With millions needed for Organised retail as indicated by a lot of studies, the question that occured to me was ‘How are they different from the ordinary Graduates?’ ‘What value addition would they bring to organised retail?’ And this was compounded by a couple of them coming upto me and asking me questions like

  • Can you help us talk to RAI or other institutions
  • Can we learn something more besides the curriculum that will help us know about the retail environment?
  • Can we receive training, can we assist etc

I then realised what the problem was – Retailers, Institutions, Colleges were all operating in Silos with no thought or interest of working jointly. Yes, Yes I know, I would get a lot of brickbats for saying this, given the fact that everyone has strategy, announcements etc to the contrary but the percolation down or implementation if you prefer is sorely lacking.

How can you have a Retail curriculum with no practical? How can the basics of consumer insight, technology etc not even be feature?

As I assured them, 70% of them would get jobs, but will they stick there? will they continue? will they build a team? will they add value? Not really. They will be just a head count in large organisations, whilst the medium and small would keep picking the trained off by offering more salaries/perks. And the circle shall continue.

Against this, why can the Retailers, the industry bodies, the colleges not work together in making them “Employable” by being able to add value from day one.

Some practical tips like – Asking them to manage the canteen, operate a dummy store, work as a head count at least once a week, send them shopping – small things, but make them aware of the real world.

Educators want an Utopian world; Colleges & Retailers want to be profitable; Industry bodies want to address the top. And hence 80% of them focus on 20% The circle continues.

What do you think? Is this not true? Let me have your thoughts.

Written by AD
ex waiter, angadia, travel agent, dotcomer, dukaandaar, marketeer, people watcher. appreciates single malt, food, friends