PRE-EMPLOYMENT TESTING: ADDRESSING ONE OF INDIA’S CONTEMPORARY HIRING CHALLENGES
The public sector is the biggest sponsor for pre employment tests, whether it is UPSC, Banking Service Recruitment Board, UGC or IRDA. One of the key improvements in human resources over the past decade has been the increased importance that recruiters are placing on pre – employment testing of shortlisted candidates. A high quality pre-employment aptitude test is now correctly understood to be a reliable and an accurate means of filtering job applicants for a role. A more rigorous selection process helps to recruit people who have a high aptitude for the role, which in turn reduces the cost of training new recruits. Having significantly matured, assessment for pre-employment and role advancement is now far more tuned to hiring candidates whose background, experience, and personality match the overall requirement of the organisation, and not just those with the best academic credentials. Employees who are better suited to their roles are also likely to be more satisfied with their jobs.
Late last year, on the recommendation of the Administrative Reforms Commission, the Ministry of Personnel introduced a four-stage assessment for promotion from the state civil services to the three All India Services (Indian AdministrativeService, Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service). Previously, promotion was on the basis of review of their seniority and Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) rather than a more transparent merit based testing program as gained through valid, scientifically based assessment. Other important points are that rigorous and well-designed skills testing not only helps organisations to attract and retain employees, but also results in a more productive and satisfied workforce. However, a lot depends on the level of security and rigor of assessment tests, in order for them to be effective. In this case too, the new process is subject to revision after a period of three years.
Though India churns out the third-highest number of graduates in the world after China and USA, recent surveys indicate that upto 75 per cent of graduates in India are not `employable’ by global standards. Only 19 per cent of engineers and an abysmal five per cent of graduates from other streams are considered fit for employment. This poses a huge challenge to recruiters who struggle to find employees that possess not just knowledge of the technical aspects of a job, but the power of critical thinking and analysis that is a mark of a high-quality employee. Corporate India has drawn attention to the significant need gap between higher education and industrial needs in the country through bodies like the Associated Chambers of Commerce (Assocham) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Whilst selecting technical graduates with good functional skills in their area of specialisation remains a challenge, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that there is a very wide variation in the standard of teaching across India. A major ity of universities and colleges does not meet the minimum criteria for infrastructure and teaching standards and a large number of institutions continue to operate without as much as accreditation. Additionally, an outdated curriculum contributes to this situation.
Industry bodies have recommended a slew of reforms, including improving the quality of higher education through Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) and making it easier for foreign universities to set up shop in India. However, these aremedium to long-term solutions that will take at least another few years to bear fruit. In the meanwhile, companies in India will have to churn the existingtalent pool for high-grade recruits. Pre-employment skills assessment can measure how a candidate matches up against every aspect of a position, fromrequisite skill and knowledge to personality fit, prior to hiring. It reduces turnover and minimises failed “on-the-job“ deliverables promised by overly zealous, but under-qualified, job candidates.
Aptitude testing and assessments are indispensable for pronouncing India’s talent on a global scale. The job market is increasingly demanding it, and having validated skills gives employees greater confidence and more targeted value to their employers.
The author is country manager Prometric Testing Services Pvt Ltd
Source: Mumbai Mirror
Date: March 4, 2015