Asst Prof, Department of English, Narula Institute of Technology,
WestBengal University of Technology Kolkata –700109
Today the world and our nation in particular is witnessing a third industrial revolution namely communication revolution. This in turn is having a significant impact in our business and workplace. In the international commercial sphere English has become lingua-franca of the business world irrespective of geographical, social, political or religious differences. It is being recognized as one of the six official languages of the United Nations. As English is the medium of instruction across the globe, so in every sector (be it administration, academic or technical or BPO) it has become essential for the students and professionals to be conversant in English.
Earlier people used to get a job if they possessed expertise in their respective fields but in the current era the specific skills should be complemented with communication skills. The need for giving emphasis on the English communication development is of utmost importance in the present scenario with an objective to make the job aspirants gainfully employed.
This study aims to highlight the importance of English in multiple sectors which finally cater to the need of employability.
Usage of English in the academic field
There is a phenomenal difference between the English as a subject taught in the schools
& colleges and communicative English which is required in the professional sphere. The school curriculum puts more stress in literary text and grammar with very little emphasis on practical utility of English which calls for attention in everyday life. Moreover in schools of vernacular medium, instruction for most subjects is given in regional language and therefore the students maintain a mental distance with this foreign language since their childhood. This overall scenario creates difficulty for them during their higher studies. Therefore English as a global language is important not only in the commercial sector but also in the academic field students with potential growth fail to prosper due to language problem.
Language skills which needs to be acquired for business purpose
In the English speaking world ‘language proficiency is the ability to listen, read, write and speak Standard English in a business like way’.
- Listening is often a neglected skill. This should not however be the case because in our everyday life, active listening is very important. Studies have revealed that business people spend 45% of their working time listening.
- In everyday business world, we have to read numerous texts ranging from journals, e-mails, reports and books. One requires to grasp the meaning of what he reads and analyze in details.
- None of us can deny the need of having the important documents in the written form. In official work written communication serves as an important documentation which is permanent and can be retrieved. Business letters memos, proposals, brochure, manuals, notices, bulletins etc are time and again required to be drafted in an organization.
- Possessing good command over English language in terms of speaking is found wanting in business houses. Nowadays companies look up for people who can interact successfully and make significant contributions during group-discussions, presentations and seminars.
Role of soft skills in effective communication
It is true that communication skills tops the list of employability parameter, however other skills such as intrapersonal and interpersonal skills have become increasingly important. Surveys have shown that out of a large number of professionals being produced every year, only 10% are employable in various industries. The candidates are unsuitable because they lag behind in the soft skills which are essential for employability.
Intrapersonal traits include the following:
- Time management
- Ethics, integrity and values
- Self confidence and courage
Interpersonal traits include the following:
- Self awareness
- Communication and networking
- Empathy and listening skills
- Problem solving and troubleshooting
There’s a saying in English that ‘Silence speaks a lot’. There should always be a congruity between verbal and non-verbal communication. The following attributes are some of the important aspects of non-verbal communication
- Eye Contact: This helps to regulate the flow of communication. It signals interest in others and increases the speaker’s credibility. People who make eye contact
open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern, warmth, and credibility.
- Facial Expressions: Smiling is a powerful cue that transmits happiness, friendliness, warmth, and liking.
- So, if one smiles frequently the he will be perceived as more friendly, warm and approachable. Smiling is contagious and people will react favorably. They will be more comfortable around and will want to listen more.
- Gestures: If one fails to have the appropriate gesture while speaking then his message may be perceived as meaningless. A lively speaking style captures the listener’s attention, makes the conversation more interesting, and facilitates understanding.
- Posture and Body Orientation: One communicates numerous messages by the way he walks and moves. Standing erect and leaning forward communicates to listeners that one is approachable, receptive and friendly. Interpersonal closeness results when the speaker and the listener face each other. Speaking with back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling should be avoided as it communicates disinterest
So from the above we can understand that the personality traits and soft skills have a role that is central to one’s career .In conjunction with hard skills and domain expertise ,it plays an important role not only in getting prepared for interviews but also for subsequent career development.
Job scenario in the third world nations with special reference to India
It has been stated earlier that presently we are living in an age of rapid scientific and technological progress. Thus began a new era popularly termed as the era of Scientific and Technological Revolution or in short STR.The development of human capital in this epoch is thus necessary since it drives the nation to the envision and mission.
With the advent of New Economic Policy during 1991, India was exposed to the trio of LPG (Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization).Many foreign investors started taking interest upon Indian economy. Moreover the aftermath of recession in Europe led the investors to select India as one of the most dependable destination for expanding business. Besides, indigenous industrialists are also taking initiatives and hence employment opportunities are strengthening in different private, government and semi- government sectors. Nearly all these jobs are global in nature so the demand of English is accelerating. Furthermore the enormous development of ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) was notable in the last two decades where impact of English cannot be denied. In the coming years IT and BPO industries will have substantial off shoring .Undoubtedly English as a language can be the source of earning for millions of youngsters. As per NASSCOM’s report IT and BPO industry is expected to add 230,000 jobs in the financial year 2012 and in India alone, aggregate revenue will cross the USD 100 billion mark.
Shortcomings of the Indian Job-seekers
- India’s vast network of academic infrastructure churns over three million graduates annually. However there are growing concerns about parts of the existing available talent pool being unsuitable for employment due to a skill gap. One of the biggest challenges being faced by the job-aspirants at this level is their incompetence in communicating in English. A survey conducted by FICCI found that only 26% employers are satisfied with their employees’ ability to communicate in English, “the most widely used professionally communicated language”. Engineering colleges in India now have seats for 1.5 million students; nearly four times the 390,000 available in 2000.According to the National Association of Software and Services Company, 75% of technical graduates and more than 85% of general graduates are considered unemployable by India’s high- growth global industries.
Common Problems faced by the candidates
- Some write well but they are unable to express themselves properly;
- Some speak fluently but during writing have several grammatical errors;
- Some are comfortable speaking among themselves in their peer group but becomes nervous while facing the audience
Government and industry initiatives
- Many consortiums like NASSCOM, CII have over the last few years created a major workforce development platform and launched initiatives, in partnership with the government and academia that aims to bring positive changes towards mastering people skills which satisfy the parameters of cracking the job interviews.
- Hon’ble minister of finance during the budget speech of 2005-2006 made the following announcement:
“To meet the demand for specific skills of a high order, a Public Private Partnership between Government and Industry is proposed to promote skills development programme under the name ‘Skill Development Initiative”
Accordingly, Ministry of Labour & Employment through MES (Modular Employable Skills) curriculum is imparting Spoken English training (free of cost) to the unemployed youth and school drop-outs to make them industry ready.
Suggestive measures and possible solutions
- A first step in improving English communication skills of the students is to raise their awareness about the importance of this language.
- In this context mass awareness can be generated through TV channels, radio, newspapers and an extensive campaign needs to be launched regarding the consequences of shortcomings in this regard.
- Students, since their schooldays should be encouraged to participate in seminars, debates, presentations etc…
- Local bodies like municipalities, panchayats and registered societies and Clubs should take initiatives in organizing these kinds of public speaking contests in order to promote a platform for the youngsters.
- To encourage the students, scholarship may be provided in learning English at an advanced level and publish more reading materials in English and develop reading habits.
- Colleges and universities should have well-equipped language laboratory where students can improve their accent, pronunciation and voice modulation with the help of computers, LCD projectors, public address system and language learning software.
English as a language plays a crucial role in shaping one’s personality. Starting from academia to industry the necessity of English is inevitable. The need of the hour is to have certain modifications in the education system which will address the needs of the changing economy and take suitable measures at providing mandatory training in communicative English with a view to have the youngsters gainfully employed. This will ultimately benefit all the stakeholders, industry, government and economy by increasing the productivity and resulting in a higher GDP of the nation.
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