Employment opportunities & jobs in India after distance education
A major concern that students have when they contemplate pursuing a distance education degree is the value of the degree when it comes to employment opportunities. From a student's point of view, the value of a degree is directly proportional to its return on investment (ROI). So if a student plans to invest time, money and energy in pursuing a course, he expects it to give him good returns - and for most students good returns usually translates to a good job placement after graduation.
From this perspective, how do distance learning programs score? Are the employment opportunities in India after distance education at par with the placement options after a regular campus degree?
Distance education can offer good ROI
Statistics and surveys show that distance education still has a long way to go and achieve as far as job placements after graduation is concerned. For instance, the average salary package offered to MBA graduates (2010-2012) of IIM Kozhikode (one of the top IIMs in India that offers a regular, campus based PGP in management) by top companies in India and abroad varied between Rs. 11.29 lakh and Rs. 18.78 lakh per annum. The 135 companies that recruited at IIMK included Deutsche Bank, Nomura, Goldman Sachs, ICICI, Deloitte Consulting, HUL, ITC, Cognizant, Amazon, Zynga, Maruti Suzuki and Flipkart.
In contrast, here's an insight into the kind of job profiles and recruiting companies that the Campus Placement Cell (CPC) of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), offers to its students:
- Customer Relationship Management with FashionandYou.com (Rs. 1.8 lakhs per annum)
- Trainee Research Analyst (TRA) with WNS Global Services, Gurgaon (Rs. 2.2 - 2.4 lakh per annum)
- Java Developers with Manhattan Associates, Bangalore (Rs. 3 - 3.75 lakh per annum)
The job opportunities that a distance education from an open university like IGNOU offer might pale in front of the packages offered to IIM graduates, but if we take a comparative look at the ROI, distance learning degrees don't fare that bad either. If we take into consideration the affordable and cost-effective distance learning programmes offered by open universities like IGNOU or Dr B.R. Ambedkar Open University, then the placements offered by them are actually good returns on the investment we put in!
Distance learning may lead to better careers and promotions through acquired skill-sets
"I joined my company at entry level, right after I completed by B.Com (hons). After 3-4 years of working in the same organisation, I decided to pursue a Post Graduate Diploma in Supply Chain Management (PGDSCM) from Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning (SCDL) so that I could acquire professional competency in materials management and logistics which is crucial in my area of work. This additional qualification proved beneficial for me both in terms of value addition to my work as well as during appraisals from my senior management," says Manish Babu, who is now a senior manager with one of the largest shipping companies in the world.
The various specialised distance learning courses that are on offer in India can thus help working professionals climb up the corporate ladder. An added degree, certification, skill can reflect well on your resume and distance education is one of the most convenient ways to achieve that. With most universities in India offering distance and online degrees, certificates, diplomas - employment opportunities and professional growth after distance education are a definite possibility.
"I feel that over a period of time, while full time post graduate programs would rule the basic and fundamental degree regimes, niche and functional curriculum that is more up to date and current, will be more useful as part of distance learning programs. The same shall help equip people currently working in corporates to bring added functional know-how to the table and thus help them progress their careers," said Himanshu Aggarwal, CEO of Aspiring Minds, a leading employability measurement solutions provider that conducts AMCAT, a standardized national employability test.
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Distance education for freshers vs. distance education for professionals
"Though we prefer to hire freshers with a regular degree, we encourage our existing employees to upgrade their skills through online certifications and other distance learning programs. In most cases, the company bears the costs for such training programs," a senior HR manager in one of India's top IT companies told IndiaEducation.
This trend underlines the fact that a lot of distance education candidates are indeed working professionals who want to continue with higher education or upgrade their skills to perform better at work. At the same time, it would be unrealistic for a fresher armed with a distance learning degree to expect to get hired by top-notch companies right away.
Placement cells of distance learning universities may help with job opportunities
Most of the universities offering distance education have now established dedicated "placement cells" that actively seek to get their students placed in reputed multinationals, government jobs, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. These placement cells make sure that all registered students get help with job placements, counselling for employment and even self employment.
The Central Placement Cell (CPC) of the University of Delhi also offers its placement services to the students of the School of Open Learning (SOL, DU). "Students pursuing distance education from SOL and students pursuing regular programs from other colleges in Delhi University are treated at par and offered the same services by the CPC," Dr. Gulshan Sawhney, Deputy Dean, CPC, Delhi University told IndiaEducation.
The Directorate of Distance Education of Sikkim Manipal University (SMUDE) also offers employment assistance to its students through its dedicated placement cell, iRize. The SMU-DE iRize placement assistance for students includes an online portal where students can build and manage profiles, search for jobs online and post job openings. iRize also conducts job fairs/placement drives that are conducted across the country.
DEB accredited distance learning courses and government jobs
The Distance Education Bureau (DEB) of the UGC in its norms and guidelines clearly states that all distance education courses that are recognised and approved by the DEB, stand automatically recognized for the purpose of employment to posts and services under the Central Government of India. Students should therefore make sure that the distance education course they intend to pursue is duly recognised and approved by the UGC.
Also read: How can Indian graduates improve their employability?