Why are organisations increasingly relying on their in-house learning academies?

The business environment is changing very fast and universities are finding it difficult to catch up

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Recently, EY reportedly started training and upskilling its new campus hires from B-schools in the area of business analytics and data science. As per the Company statement, MBA schools and universities were not fit to fulfil EY’s needs and requirements. Therefore, it has tied up with institutions that help them churn out employable freshers from their in-house learning academies.

In fact, in India as well, the employability of MBA graduates is not very high. If we go back six years to 2016, an ASSOCHAM study reported that only seven per cent of students passing out of MBA schools in India get placed. Well, this number has now increased to 35 per cent as per some new studies. Another data confirms that hiring of management students in India stood at only 20 per cent in 2020.

“The knowledge in some emerging areas such as digitalisation or business analytics are only taught in theory”

Jai Balan, head-HR, Bharti AXA Life Insurance

There can be multiple reasons for the low rate of employment amongst MBA graduates. One of them is the inefficiency of the MBA schools in imparting relevant education and their failure to update their curricula in alignment with the emerging jobs in the market.

Most Indian companies and big conglomerates have their own in-house learning academies.

What are the reasons behind this trend?

HRKatha talks to some of the learning heads and heads of HR, to try and find out what the learning scenarios in campuses appear like to India Inc.

As per experts, it would be inappropriate to say that universities are insufficient in imparting knowledge to students to make them industry ready. But yes, there are some gaps, which are supposed to be covered or filled in some emerging areas.

Generic knowledge: As per Atul Mathur, EVP & head of learning, Aditya Birla Capital, there are some emerging areas in which MBA students need to be trained and skilled. For instance, skills such as business analytics or data science are theoretically covered in schools, but to get the students started, they need some on-ground experience in the same areas. “Knowledge imparted in such areas is quite generic in universities,” points out Mathur.

“Knowledge imparted in such areas is quite generic in universities”

Atul Mathur, EVP & head of learning, Aditya Birla Capital

Practical training: Jai Balan, head-HR, Bharti AXA Life Insurance, also agrees that students are not taught about sourcing the right data in data analytics. These areas remain rusty for them. “The knowledge in some emerging areas such as digitalisation or business analytics are only taught in theory,” rues Balan.

“Since many organisations are undergoing digitalisation, not only the tech talent but the entire workforce need to know how to use applications driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML),” states Mathur.

Composition of workforce: Mathur cites another example of managing workforce composition in the future workplace. “Now we have people working following a hybrid system, working from home, in house and also gig workforce. Managing such a workforce with such a complex composition is also something that students are not taught in colleges,” mentions Mathur.

Though Balan shares that Bharti AXA does not really hire much from the campuses, it does have learning programmes for lateral hires in place. These people are generally trained to get used to the new culture and way of working, and also some new line of products that the company may offer.

“Less projects and less experiential learning in colleges is the problem”

Nitin Thakur, head of learning, Jindal Stainless

Job readiness: As per Nitin Thakur, head of learning, Jindal Stainless, it is not as if universities are not imparting knowledge fit for the corporate space, but the purpose of learning academies is to make them job ready from the organisational perspective.

“Less projects and less experiential learning in colleges is the problem,” concludes Thakur.

As many HR leaders point out, though universities are trying to catch up, the business environment is just changing too fast, which makes it difficult for the universities to keep pace. Of course, the institutions are not just sitting back and twiddling their thumbs. “Many universities have changed their curricula and are endeavouring to match pace with the business needs,” points out Thakur on a positive note.

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