Earlier today, I had a chance to meet with a senior manager of a leading human resources consulting firm. During our course of discussion, we spoke about how training for my staff went by. Thereafter, once again I read the McKinsey’s recent report Education to Employment: Designing a System that Works.  The epiphany for me is that foreign companies that succeed in India shall be the ones that engage with the best Indian education institutions. Why epiphany? It should be so axiomatically obvious. It is to me now, but obviously, it is not to a vast majority of people. That is why I have chosen to write about this now.

Many multinational companies (MNCs) including Japanese firms complain about finding right-skilled employees. One finding from McKinsey is that employers, employees and education providers live in parallel universe, that is in complete disconnect with each other. This seems to make a lot of sense as an underlying cause to the problem of right-skilling. Some of the best hires for my previous company, Hitachi were people that we employed as interns while they were still students. This led to a convergence of expectations on all sides and the problem of right skilling so often talked about in the press was resolved. This is in harmony with what employees say abouton-the-job training (OJT) and hands-on learning being the most effective instructional techniques.  The Hitachi interns were from leading institutes like Indian Institute of Management (IIM) or Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Excellent employees facilitate excellent organization building.


According to the McKinsey survey, only 31% of companies actually engage regularly with education providers and youth, offering them time, skills and money. I suspect this separates the more successful from the less successful. As was pointed out, in the best-case scenario – education providers and employers actively step into each other’s worlds, and additionally they both engage potential employees, the students on an early basis. This mirrors how Hitachi achieved its excellent hiring.

Education providers in India are beginning to understand the importance of getting industry exposure for their students. While in the past professors of premium institutes like IIT used to contact me for OJT opportunities, in recent times, the lesser-known institutes are also initiating the contact. This is a good first step. It would be even more effective if education providers made practical training integral to the classroom, rather than an off-campus event. Indian companies being home-grown would not know how to go about it. However, foreign companies can. When at Hitachi, the then Chief Executive Officer (CEO)for Asia, Mr. ShunsukeOhtsu donated a set of power tools to IIT, and the use of power tools became incorporated in undergraduate practical training curriculum for the first time in India, as recently as in 2009!


Yes, that is right but, the important thing is this that there are two sides to the equation:

  • the willing giver
  • the willing recipient

You can learn from Hitachi, or you can struggle and then learn from Hitachi. The choice is now yours.