Creating Tomorrow's Managers-The FOREway

For business school graduates, the skill gap is a two-way challenge: students don't get commensurate returns on their investments, while the industry doesn't get qualified and properly trained future managers. A few exceptional schools, like IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, Faculty of Management Studies, and FORE School of Management, are making conscious efforts to address this issue.

Recent studies on the current scenario in management education highlight this skill gap. For instance, according to the India Skill Report 2019 (an annual survey), only 36.4% of MBA graduates are considered employable. The assessment was carried out by testing a large pool of candidates on English, critical thinking skills, numerical aptitude, domain knowledge, and behavioural competence. MBA graduates appear to be losing ground consistently, given that the same survey has shown employability among MBAs falling by 6% over a 5-year period.

There are many factors contributing to this decay: unscrupulous promoters setting up fly-by-night B-Schools, the presence of many non-AICTE certified programmes, inexperienced faculty body, and lack of industry exposure in the programmes. This has led to a deterioration in general standards that make graduates ill-equipped to face the real-life challenges that industry poses in a volatile and ever-changing world. Sadly, at the most basic level, many graduates also suffer from poor communication and technical skills.

FORE School of Management, New Delhi has a long history of creating capable business managers. The various PGDM courses are AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) approved, NBA (National Board of Accreditation) accredited, and are equivalent to MBA as per equivalence permission granted by Association of Indian Universities (AIU). The institute is also accredited by SAQS. The current batch size is 180 for PGDM, 120 for PGDM in International Business, and 60 for PGDM in Financial Management. For each programme, the emphasis is on creating future-ready managers who are ready to contribute from the day they are recruited from campus.

To identify and understand the skills required by employers, FORE remains engaged and involved. The B-School has created a forum where an employer's representative can experience the institution's commitment and communicate their knowledge of required skills. Curricula are maintained and improved through a variety of activities, chief among them being through meeting accreditation requirements, both at the national and international levels. By considering industry inputs regarding the skills and competencies needed, and then ensuring that such skills are incorporated into the curriculum and properly measured, a clear pathway can be created in which graduates can add immediate value to an employer's operations.

On the academic front, FORE's courses focus on furthering practical learning through an optimum mix of lectures, classroom discussions, case studies, role-plays, group discussions, quizzes, and special sessions with industry and trade professionals, management games, sensitivity training, management films, industrial visits, industry interaction and, last but not the least, the International Immersion Programme. Students are encouraged to present their cases through individual or group presentations. A further opportunity is provided through the participation of students in various seminars and workshops.

The endorsement for FORE's methodology comes from the recruiters. FORE continues to improve on its placements record. "The highest offer this year is looking upward of INR 32 lac per annum. New-age organizations are happy to find skill sets they are looking for. This placement session has been exciting with almost whole batch is already placed. The continuous efforts by faculty at FORE, to keep the pedagogy relevant to the workplace, has been rewarding. The average payback period is expected to be around 16 months", added Prof. Rajneesh Chauhan, Chair-Placements at FORE School of Management. He further shares, 'Over the past several years, we have been witnessing a steady growth in student placements. This is reflected in the continuous rise in the average CTC: 9 LPA (Batch 2014-16), 9.4 LPA (Batch 2015-17), and 10.4 LPA (Batch 2016-18). For Batch 2017-19, placements are almost over. Top recruiters from across sectors and industries have been visiting our campus. Every year we can attract new companies in addition to existing organizations. We have been receiving positive feedback from recruiters, who are hiring our students for diverse roles and responsibilities in different domains.'

At FORE, students are encouraged not to rest on past achievements. They are always inspired to work hard and prepare well. The placements office works rigorously with the student body, Corporate Communication Division (CCD) to help the young learners distil their academic learning into practical lessons and sharpen their 'soft skills'. Since training in communication skills is woven into the curriculum, robust communication becomes a way of life for students rather than a skill to be learned just before interviews. It is the same with other skills like using spreadsheets or presentation slides. Moreover, the vibrant Student Council also helps students to hone their leadership, event management, and mobilization skills. This approach has enabled several past students to reach distinguished leadership positions working with multinational and Indian business groups in India and abroad.

Guest Sessions with distinguished alumni and other industry leaders are another important source of gaining up-to-date knowledge for students. These sessions help students to keep in touch with industry, ask questions, and develop linkages with their curriculum. FORE's location in the heart of NCR helps the B-School to tap into a rich pool of speakers from manufacturing and services, and bureaucracy and the government. As Gagandeep Singh, Batch 2017-19, shares, 'I am absolutely thrilled to get an opportunity to work with a Fortune 500 company. This has happened because of my holistic development at the B-School. Now I am a more confident management professional.' Gagandeep had worked in Operations for almost four years when he decided to pursue the PGDM programme at FORE.

If India is to deliver on its potential of being the growth engine of the world, we need to address the skill challenge by adopting initiatives that are learner-centric, inspire innovative thinking, and encourage life-long learning. 

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