Bringing ideas from research and consultancy studies and industry interactions into active learning environments pays off in internship outcomes

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The India Skills Gap Report 2022 identified MBA graduates as a highly employable majority and pegged the employability of MBA students at 55%. Similarly, the World Economic Forum in its 2020 Executive Opinion Survey mentions the supply of business-relevant skills in India at 42%. Similar findings on employability have appeared in numerous reports, including McKinsey’s.

How to improve the employability of business students? By developing policies and practicing attempts to solve problems? These questions circulated and became part of popular coffee tables and serious debates among scholars and students.

It seems that some answers lurk around us. Looking back, we have all heard stories of great teachers like Dronacharya who, in addition to instructing young princes in the art of warfare, could command an entire army in a real war. The students of his academy were known to be among the best in their respective fields. Or the stories of Panchatantra, where young princes not interested in studies learned great wisdom through stories – an innovation in the delivery of lessons like our case studies. Coming back to India today, the dynamics of the education sector are shaped by the National Education Policy 2020. The policy mentions to focus on the employability potential of students in tertiary institutes in s engaging on the practical side of learning. This requires matching student learning outcomes with industry needs.

The Harvard study Rethinking the MBA mentions that recruiters are challenging traditional business training and looking for additional skills and traits in students. This is only possible if business schools and industry remain actively connected to each other. Who will make this match and bridge the gap often heard between “university of industry”? Of course, the faculty of the institutes will play a very important role. On the one hand, the program and the delivery must be sufficiently well designed to correspond to the needs of the industry and to adapt to current trends. In applied subjects like management education, professors who are connected to industry or industry issues through their counseling or research may be able to better mentor students to they are ready for industry. One of the ways to improve this connectivity is through cutting-edge research. and consultancy assignments that benefit industry and also end up in the classroom.

As a faculty member at IMI Kolkata, a lot of peer learning takes place from other faculty colleagues trained at leading institutes who are deeply involved in research and consultancy projects with industry, government and multilateral agencies. These interdisciplinary industry-related studies, in addition to meeting policy objectives, are often used in the classroom as well as to connect with industry through guest lectures, engagements and live projects where industry and faculty act as mentors for students.

Connecting learning outcomes to internship success is often a great yet exciting journey for students. Thus, the choice of business school becomes very important. Students should ask themselves: Does the course build employability skills? Is it industry relevant? Does the institute carry out research and consultancy projects and actively engage with industry? Especially in turbulent times, students need to learn new skills to adapt to a changed reality and take advantage of new opportunities that turmoil like the pandemic often provides. And these new required knowledge and skills can still be half-baked in textbooks. At IMI Kolkata, research, consultancy and training industry executives are an integral part of its learning culture, which keeps the institute on a continuous path of updating its curriculum and its delivery to meet recent industry needs, bringing its students closer to emerging trends in the industry, which is reflected in placement results.

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