Where Australia’s ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ missed the point No. 1 – the threat to education is real

Australia finally has ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ which is a good thing, with trade now declining to around A$14 billion.

A big part of that trade is education, with Indians big users of our universities and colleges.

The strategy mentions “visa employment conditions” as a potential threat – it should have been stronger. Changing visa conditions have had the intended consequence of employers now being uncertain and scared to offer employment to overseas graduates.

This is bad for Australia long term. Australian governments have one department discouraging Indian students (immigration) and the rest of the country hoping we can get more – time for the government to step in.

But even worse is that Indian graduates are not prepared for employment in Australia – and the report missed this key point. Their CV’s are not up to scratch, their English is difficult to understand, few have learnt presentation skills and their self descriptions often miss out their most attractive employment qualities. From our pilot study we know that these things can be quickly fixed, giving Indians a real chance of getting the jobs they want.

If this employment mismatch continues, we will have thousands of Indian graduates of Australian universities taking unskilled jobs – and word will get back to India – “don’t come to study in Australia because you will not be offered a job”. 

The report did call for our universities and businesses to work together to provide employment for students while they study – this is good. But the report made no mention of how unemployable these students are when sitting opposite corporate recruiters.

Missing this point was a big miss by the report. In addition to fixing the visa debacle, the government urgently needs to call the universities in, demanding a solution on employability skills.

Otherwise our trade will decline even further.

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

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