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India in March: But Education Never Stops

I’m out of country, on a journey to the East to India: for family, chai, more family, more chai, and new regions to explore. It’s my grandparents 60th anniversary (60!) so I have met a lot of people – not just family during the event, but during the extensive preparations for a 100+ person event. During my relatively random conversations with the Indian Gen Y, I’ve formed an interesting image of education and career tracks in India.

As time spent in other regions often show, even if there are differences in culture, there remain pervasive similarities. In generations past, India’s primary career tracks were focused around Engineering, Business, and Medicine. Similar to the US, albeit at a slower rate, a trend is emerging regarding more choices for possible career options post graduation. There are several key differences however:


1. College Education is Cheaper – I can’t find a clear source on this topic, but the consensus is that college education is incredibly cheap and heavily subsidized by the government – ranging from 360 Rupees/year (~$10/yr at the top liberal arts college) to 11.5 lakhs/year (~$23,000 USD/year at the top technical school, IIT)  depending on the institution.

2. Vocational training starts earlier – I often meet 21 or 22 year olds in India who at least have their Bachelors, if not 2 degrees. The first 10 years of school are common, the next 2 years become more specialized with some vocational training, and the following 3 years, they earn a Bachelor’s degree. Vocational counseling starts in 10th grade and professional/vocational classes start in 11th and 12th grade.

3. Degrees carry more importance than experience. Multiple degrees are a must to gain employment. – This is a common theme. While most degrees require some level of internship, in general, Indians, once on the college track, pursue multiple degrees in order to gain employment.

I met a female who at 20, had her Bachelors and Masters in Commerce, as well as a degree in Fashion Design. She then pursued courses in Banking and Insurance and completed certifications in both by 21. She worked for ICICI Bank upon graduation.

Entrepreneurial spirit also runs strong. It is as common to work for smaller firms as it is to work for large corporations, if not more common. Many young people intend on starting their own business at some point post graduation.

Due to the lower cost of education, Gen Y in India have a chance to explore more topics and therefore, are being exposed to more and more options outside of the norm for potential careers. As I have found with working with teens and students in the USA, it’s key to gain experience in various fields to make the decision for Gen Y in India. More and more, Gen Y in India will follow the trends in the USA – looking for a career filled with growth and potential job changes to explore various paths and find meaning through employment.

For more information on the set up of education in India, feel free to view this link: http://www.wes.org/educators/pdf/indiapolicypacket.pdf