There is a certain fascination for foreign degrees, but what is the scope of employment post these qualifications?
If degrees and qualifications guaranteed jobs, much fewer Indians would be on the unemployment list. The reality today is that jobs are scarce and just a degree is no longer enough. The highly competitive corporate world is always looking for bright, talented and up-to-date hirees. In a globally connected world, there is little room to learn something tomorrow, when it is available today. Organisations are looking for recruits who are not only qualified, but also have that extra edge in them. The extra edge these days refers to an international exposure—be it with studies or experience.
There is a rising demand in certain sectors, where the need of the hour is to employ people with international exposure. The wide number of youngsters seeking jobs is on the rise, and herein comes an international internship or exchange program and experience. “For any job in India, students compete with peers from both Indian and foreign universities. The degree on its own is not the differentiator, unless it is one of Ivy League foreign universities,” says Neeti Sharma, Senior Vice President, TeamLease Services.
Recruiters, depending on the sector they represent, are looking for students with a unique blend of international and Indian outlook. For instance, the services industry, say hospitality or back-end operations of large global financial services are looking for recruits who have the right exposure to adjust quickly into their organisations. “Prospective employers want people who can meet the demands of the job. Recruitment is based on a prospective candidate’s exposure to the latest industry trends and relevant skills, apart from experience,” feels Vibha Kagzi, Founder and CEO, ReachIvy.com
Have you wondered why most IIM passouts end up going to US and sometimes do a second masters? The Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) awarded to them is not always accepted everywhere. The issue comes up significantly in Europe and even the Gulf region where an MBA counts more than a PGDM. Many Indians working in these regions prefer to opt for an MBA from an institution with a global affiliation as it improves their job prospects.
In fact in the UK, it seems that students who do not complete their MBA dissertation are awarded a PGDM. In many countries, PGDM is seen to be inferior compared to an MBA degree. This is perhaps what has triggered the IIMs to now award an MBA degree to its students over the long tradition of awarding them a PGDM. Tarun Anand, Co-Founder, Universal Business School, Mumbai, recounts the case of one of his students who was from Bahrain. The student was looking for masters, as a sabbatical from the organization he was working for in Bahrain. “Unnikrishnan was ready to join IIM Bangalore, when his employer refused to fund the course because it would eventually award him a PGDM. He joined us,” adds Anand.
“Students having foreign affiliated degrees are more in sync with the needs of the industry. Their academics reinforce the relationship of the course with the job and are focused on providing skill sets to the students which in turn increases their employability,” says Ravi Gangwani, Head HR, Oban Fashions. It is true for the sector he operates in, however, the same may not be the case for others.
Today, several big global names are regularly hiring students from colleges and institutions that have foreign university affiliations. Both Google and Microsoft have been hiring recruits from the non-metro colleges and universities that have developed curriculum in consultation with their global peers. Take for instance, 27-year-old, Mumbai-based, S Sailesh Kumar, who studied at Universal Business School in Mumbai, that has an affiliation with Cardiff Metropolitan University, in 2015. “I got placed with Gulf Oil Lubricants, thanks to my dual specialisation in Marketing and Digital Marketing,” he says. His education exposure helped him rapidly climb the corporate ladder.
Does it help?
Yes, would seem to be the case in select sectors, where the recruiter is looking for job applicants with such qualifications and exposure. The roles could be as diverse as management trainee, analysts to key managerial positions in marketing, operations and human relations. With several small and medium organisations with global aspirations functioning these days, they are looking for employees who will adapt quickly to international expectations and prerequisites desired from their job roles. A foreign tag is market-driven and purely depends on the specific sector looking for such a qualification. “Today employees need to be smart and in-sync with all the developments in their fields. Any exposure to exchange programs at global institutes, definitely adds to a student’s exposure. Such learners are great assets,” says Prakash Gagdani, CEO, 5paisa.com.
“For most entry level jobs in India, just the foreign stamp per se is not a big differentiating factor for job seekers,” says Sharma. In the same vein, such a degree does not automatically translate into a higher salary at the time of joining. “Remuneration depends on the job seekers’ skills and knowledge. Especially for entry level jobs in India, there is not much difference in remuneration between Indian or foreign degrees,” says Sharma.
“Being a generalist is no longer considered fancy,” says Francis Padamadan, Country Director, KellyOCG India, a talent management solutions provider. Giving students a platform for design thinking, entrepreneurship and innovation are some of the key areas that is witnessing great interest. Across the industry, enterprises are looking for candidates who display an aptitude in these areas. “Going forward students need to aim towards becoming specialists in fields of their choice, rather than generalists,” adds Padamadan.
The international stamp does not always payout in reality. While an international certification or degree does make your CV standout, but it is no guarantee for a job in India or abroad. Many students who do a short stint abroad as part of their education, in fact, find it tough to reconcile to a very different work experience even once they find a job in India. Many recruiters stay away from employing such candidates because they feel they are not the right fitment to work in an Indian setup and have solutions for typical Indian challenges.
It does not mean that pursuing such affiliated programs is a waste. While these may help the candidate broaden their knowledge to a certain extent, when it comes to the actual job, you need to have what recruiters look for and a degree of luck on your side. Moreover, it would be in your interest not to get carried away assuming the international stamp makes you superior over peers who have studied in India. Know about what jobs are available for you if you enroll for such courses instead of blindly jumping into them just because it seems to be the cool thing to do to guarantee a job.
There are certain sectors where a foreign university degree or affiliation is preferred over Indian equivalents. The reason for such a desire is the skills and exposure that one acquires when pursuing such courses. Two sectors that rarely look for such skills, especially in the undergraduate level, are IT and manufacturing. The reason is obvious as both the sectors have pretty clear local advantages and benefits. However, there are certain specialisations where a foreign brand helps.
Fashion and Design:
Given the amount of work that goes into this sector, any global experience is a head start for job-seekers in this segment. Although a niche area, a lot of global design and fashion labels now have Indiacentric development centres. The job roles may vary, and along with it the foreign affiliation or the lack of it. But, for core work in this sector, global exposure definitely helps.
The sector and the scope of work in it are wide. There are several specialised courses and programs that exist to meet the needs of this sector. Moreover, most hospitality chains have global staffing requirements, and any international affiliate certification may just be the passport to a global posting.
Infrastructure, Telecom and Energy:
India has made steady progress in these fields, both of which have a wide global demand as well. Students who have any relevant foreign exposure and background stand a better chance over those who have studied something equivalent in India.
Public Policy and Governance:
Another sector that is on the lookout for people with not just relevant subject knowledge, but also exposure to foreign degrees that specialise in this sector. The lack of quality education in this space is filled by studying these subjects with even short internship stints for greater exposure and practical experience.
Applied Arts, Archaeology and Environment Studies:
These are the areas where very few Indian colleges and universities offer education. At the same time, there are organisations that are stepping up the pace to play an active role in these sectors. The opportunity that a student with international affiliation or education has over Indian peers puts them in a better employable position.