CAREER GUIDE Friday, August 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India
Survival of the fittest
Knowledge, skills hold the key to future jobs
P.P.S. Gill

re education and employment synonymous? Employment, seemingly, is a corollary of education. And "choosing career paths" begins where education ends; and eduction never ends!




Survival of the fittest
Knowledge, skills hold the key to future jobs
P.P.S. Gill

Are education and employment synonymous? Employment, seemingly, is a corollary of education. And "choosing career paths" begins where education ends; and eduction never ends!

This is not a sweeping statement; it is a fact, a reality. And unless skills are continuously updated through education, retaining a given job itself will be difficult in the future; such is the pace of the developing world, driven by market economy and profit motives!

The reason for putting "choosing career paths" in quotes is that it is the title of a recent book by Mr Y.S. Rajan, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar. He mirrors the frightening future scenario that awaits the youth, who on leaving portals of educational institutions would join job-hunters.

This write-up is not intended to be a review of Mr Rajan’s book or to suggest job slots or how to go about them. It is to forewarn the youth that the ‘paths’ ahead are strewn with unknown twists, turns and to mentally prepare them for the challenges ahead.

Only those would succeed and survive in the market-driven ‘job bazar’, who would have built up a reservoir of knowledge and information, or who would have acquired skills, which alone hold the key to future jobs.

Another important point in that the youth should forget getting permanent jobs, as all future employment would be either on contract or project-specific.

Since government jobs will be hard to get, competitions for private-sector job slots would be tough. And those without skills would fail even if self-employed! Remember Charles Darwin’s theory, ‘Survival of the fittest’ ? It will be fully operative in a fiercely competitive world, where quality and brand names will count more and so will the money the employed youth will mint for their employers!

Mr Rajan’s book, incidentally, is based on his interaction with his son and his circle of friends, who were concerned about their career paths after the completion of their education. "It is an effort to provide practical tips in the Indian context through live examples".

The quest for choosing a career path should begin at the schooling stage itself. The youth must be made aware of the multiple options available to them and guided in the right direction, as job is as basic a necessity of life as is "roti, kapda and makan"! A poor fellow cannot afford to remain without work for a single day. He, too, is self-employed! This brings us to the basic question of ‘economic capability and capacity’ of the people to work and earn.

Gone are the days of "conventional" degrees that once fetched jobs! Today, there is a wide variety of "educational choices". Several foreign institutions have stepped in. These offer multiple market-driven courses, of course at a price, which many can ill-afford. There are also multiple choices for career options.

Despite all this hype, there are many ifs and buts about "sun-rise courses" that promise a "visa" to secure a job or a secure job and multiple opportunities to the aspiring youth, who are far more exposed to the world around them. Yet, the job requirements are different for different classes of the youth of different strata of society — high, middle and lower middle.

Thus, in this small world, the big challenge is of providing employment opportunities to those who after classes X and XII are forced by economic necessities and family needs to opt for diploma or certificate courses, as they cannot afford to enrol in regular university degree courses.

Every year 1.8 crore such youth get into the job-hunters’ queues, besides another nine million, who do post-matriculation diploma or certificate courses. Who will plan for them? asks Mr Rajan. There is still hope for these middle and lower middle class youth, who may get adjusted in agriculture or education, though with slim salary packets.

This calls for a joint effort at every conceivable level in society to reorient mind-set as well as to restructure the system or at least make the best use of the existing system in the interests of the youth.

This is imperative because employers will keep one on the job-rolls, only as long as the person makes money for them! This calls for changing not just the mind-set or "conventional" degrees but also the beaten, narrow career paths and creating new jobs in tune with the changing times and market needs.

Also, every youth will have to learn to speak English, besides periodically updating his skills, as society gets information and knowledge-intensive with each passing day. One may even be required to do more than one job a day! For all this to happen, opening up of the economy and its faster growth is as imperative as re-inventing education for absorption of the millions of youth, if future social tensions are to be warded off.

Are politicians, administrators, educators , decision-makers, career guidance counsellors and parents networking to find solutions to these challenges, given the grim future job-market scenario and changing manpower profile requirements?

Institutions of learning, schools to universities, cannot turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to this emerging scenario. All shall have to develop forward and backward linkages and also drill into the young minds that education is only an "enabling tool" for choosing career paths, not a "guarantee" to employment!


Do IIMs have quota for STs?

Is there any reservation for Scheduled Tribe students in the IIMs? What does it cost to do an MBA and are any scholarships available for needy students?

— Kanwaljit Sandhu

The average yearly expenses on tuition, library, computer, room, board, teaching material and other fees works out to roughly Rs 1.5 lakh at present. Personal expenses on travel, clothes and laundry are extra.

However, the IIMs try to ensure that no student is denied opportunity to pursue the post-graduate programme in management for want of adequate financial resources. Need-based scholarship schemes covering up to 100 per cent of expenses are available (see the write-up on each IIM included in the CAT bulletin for details).

For instance, IIMA has a need-based scholarship scheme to help its economically weak PGP students. The scholarship amount is fixed on the basis of the annual gross family income, parental asset ownership, number of dependants, etc. And the same holds true of the other IIMs.

The Government of India merit-cum-means scholarship of Rs 2,200 p.a. is available to as many as 25 per cent of the students, provided they meet the criteria. Moreover, several industry-sponsored merit scholarships (GE, Bharati Telecom, etc) of up to Rs 50,000 p.a., are awarded at the end of each academic year. In addition, a few industry-sponsored need-based scholarships of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 p.a. are available to needy students for the two-year period.

Commercial banks such as Allahabad Bank, the Bank of Baroda, the Oriental Bank of Commerce, Punjab National Bank, the HSBC and financial institutions provide educational loans to needy students. For details, contact their respective branch offices. As per Government of India rules, 15 per cent and 7½ per cent seats are reserved for SC and ST candidates.

The CAT bulletin containing the CAT application form and other information can be obtained from designated branches of the State Bank of India, between mid-July and end of August. If you submit a copy of your SC/ST certificate to the bank you can obtain the bulletin at half the price (normal price in ’03: Rs 1100/-). Please note that you need to buy only one CAT bulletin irrespective of how many IIMs you are applying to.

TV producer

What exactly does a TV producer do?

— Jyoti Gill, Amabala Cantt

TV production incorporates multiple tasks: from managing the entire production process to ensuring that the programme is made within the stipulated budget and time.

The work includes co-ordinating with other departments to select the cast, clear scripts and co-ordinate the use of production facilities such as studios, cameras, lighting, etc. It also includes supervising the production staff and the editing department to ensure quality of production.

In some cases, the role of the producer is combined with that of the programme director. In either case, the job calls for extensive experience in the media with proven organisational ability. Besides creative talent, technical knowledge of television production, you need a high level of planning and organisational skills.

Working as a production assistant is considered a perfect hands-on entry-level job for anyone who has the ambition to move into the production end of TV.

But before you rush in, just make sure you have the absurd levels of energy required for this line where an entire episode (even several episodes) is often canned in a single day! Which is why when you look at the age profile of our present day TV producers, you will find they are all in their 20s or early 30s.

A degree in mass communication with specialisation in electronic media or a related diploma from reputed institutions will help you get your foot in the door.

Environmental engg

I am in my final year of civil engineering and would like to take up environmental engineering at the Master’s level. Please could you provide information on the colleges that offer ME/MTech courses in this field?

— Kuljit Ahluwalia.

At the Master’s level, environmental engineering is offered at quite a few universities now. Here are some you could look at:

IIT, Delhi, IIT, Kharagpur, IIT, Madras,

The Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad

Jamia Millia Islamia, Fac/o Engg & Tech, New Delhi. (MTech, P/T).

MNREC, Allahabad (UP)

Rajiv Gandhi Prouyogiki Vishwavidyalaya, Indore

Thapar Instt of Engg & Tech (Deemed U), Patiala (Punj)

UP Technical University (Instt of Engg & Tech), Lucknow

The typical eligibility for all these courses is a BE/BTech in civil/eviron engg.

Career plan

I am basically a mechanical engineer with an MBA (marketing). After working for a year with a multinational auto-component manufacture, I am currently working with a PSU as a sales officer, handling sales of polymers and chemicals at the regional office. I am simple, straightforward, sober and hardworking. I am also quiet. I can't make up my mind about what my next career move should be. I am 26 years old. Should I stick to the present job or should I move to some other sector (private) or other industry (consumer products or any other)? How should I weigh the pros and cons?

— Ritesh Gupta

The most valuable pointer I can suggest is to first write down a career plan for, say, the next five years. Outline your ambitious but realistic goals, along with an honest assessment of your strengths and shortcomings. Without such a plan, it is impossible to successfully plan one's career growth.

Once you have drawn up your five-year career plan, you can then assess the opportunities available for someone with your qualifications, skills and experience, both in terms of faster growing industries and faster growing companies.

The third step is to marry the two, namely your goals and the opportunities available.

In a nutshell, work out your goals first, the action you need to take will then automatically be evident, whether it is to switch companies, or switch industries.

— Pervin Malhotra, Director, CARING

Please send in your query preferably on a postcard along with your name, complete address and academic qualifications to:
Editor, Query Hotline, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160020
or at



1. Name the two Sikh leaders whose portraits were recently unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament.

2. Which mathematician and physicist was named the greatest Briton of all times in a recent poll conducted by the BBC news network?

3. Name former Ugandan President, known for his ruthless ways, who died recently.

4. Who has won the seventh Devi Ahilya National Award for his contribution towards scientific and industrial fields?

5. What is the full form of RITES?

6. Which planet is also known as red planet?

7. In which state is the country’s first ‘model salt farm’ going to be set up?

8. Name the aircraft that dropped atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

9. What is the capital of Haiti?

10. Expand SAPTA.

11. Which Indian city will host the first-ever Afro-Asian Games from October 24 to November 1?

12. Which nation won the 25th Champions Trophy?

13. What has been India’s biggest-ever victory margin in hockey outside the country against Pakistan?

14. Name the winner of seven Wimbledon, five US Opens and two Australian Open titles who retired recently.

15. Which university recently created history by securing the coveted Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy for a record 17th time?


Winners of quiz 188: The first prize by draw of lots goes to: Ankush, Class VII, Happy High School, Jail Road, Gurdaspur-143521. 

Second: Sonal Goyal, Class VI, Jivan Jyoti Public School, Duladi Gate, Nabha.

Third: Idhant Singla, Class V, Alpine School, 101-C, Model Town, Patiala.

Answers to quiz 188: Centre for Science and Environment; Shivshankar Menon; Tejas; Gegong Apang; Mars; Mi6; 100; Baku; Oil and Natural Gas Organisation; Durand Line ; Blaster; K.M. Beenamol; Kim Clijsters; Graeme Smith; Ranjitsinhji.

Cash awards of Rs 400, 300 and 200 are given to the first, second and third prize winners, respectively. These are sent at the school address.

— Tarun Sharma