Why Invest in English Skills?

The falling education standard in India is directly proportional to the declining English standard.  Further investment including FDI in higher education is bound to fail unless the free fall of English standard is arrested.  Today a common man in India is well aware that, upward mobility is impossible without English skill.  Unlike Japan, Russia , Germany  etc. where the knowledge is available in their respective country language , India is solely dependent on English for information and knowledge.  With the new role as the Global language of  commerce and communication, English commands more respect and Elite status , among the masses and affluents.

2004 story

Once Jerry Rao, Chairman of National Association of Software and Service Companies lamented that ‘The average student in India who completes high school doesn’t speak good English, thanks to the ill-conceived chauvinist educational policies’. He called to step up investment in English speaking workforce. He went on to say that, ‘A large English speaking workforce is a National Asset’.

2013 story

‘Investment in picking up one’s English language skills hasn’t found much favor with Indians in Comparison to science or technology or other areas, they like to invest in’.  This was the opinion of Angela ffrench and  Coombe of Cambridge English Language Assessment (CELA) which is part of University of Cambridge, UK. Further they added ;  ‘Brushing up one’s English could lead to overseas study  and employment opportunities is  something  we needn’t tell people .  They should have  realized by now’, they  further stressed that ‘people shouldn’t miss out on great opportunities just because they are handicapped with respect to communication’.

2014 Story

Hardly 15 percent of  the graduates are employable, the remaining 85 percent lack English communication skill. The inference is 85 percent of investment is going into drains. The Universities in India still consider English  literature, history, criticism etc. as integral components of the English language, they are fail to realize that the employers need communication skill not the literature and criticism. The  University/College teachers themselves are poor in Communication skill. This has resulted in mushrooming of  thousands of the so called  English Language Training Companies all over India and it’s the most sought after business these days(better than investment in gold).  The only aim these companies is to cash in on the English craze, the youth who fall prey to the catchy ads of these companies end up as parrots with no knowledge of speaking or wring of their own.  There are few International Schools and some Elite colleges where  students  get an opportunity to hear and speak language fluently and this fraction doesn’t make any impact. I am of the view that India is losing at least a billion dollar a day due to joblessness/underemployment of it’s youth, due to lack of English skill.

National Employability Report (2014) says that 73.6% of engineering graduates lack English speaking and comprehension skills, one can imagine the fate of graduates in Arts and Science colleges. The prediction of the World Bank in 2010 that ‘Skill shortage remains one of the major constraints to continued growth of the Indian economy’, is true even today.  It is time the government stepped  up  investment in skill development  rather than opening more and more universities and colleges.  Look at the fate  hundreds of  Engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu , struggling for survival in just two decades of their inception, because they failed to realize that Soft skills are more important than Core skills. If India fails to invest in skills development `now the smaller  countries like Sri Lanka, philippines etc. will overtake India.