At present, not all prospective graduates, particularly engineering graduates, are able to find gainful employment on account of lack of desired skills as reported in different surveys. However, these surveys do not mention which of the desired skills is not possessed by the graduates. In grappling with this situation, it is appropriate here to point out that students come into institutions with various levels of aptitudes owing to different reasons. These aptitudes are further influenced by the way students respond to the learning process necessary for the curriculum at hand. If we go by the dictum, ‘aptitude begets skills’ we have to consider the development of aptitude for acquiring requisite skills. Traditionally and quite broadly professional skills have been classified as hard (domain) skills and soft skills. This categorisation is from the point of view of industry and not from the point of view of an education sector or individual. Hence, there is a discord between the education sector that trains students and the industries that employ them.

An alternative approach provides a new perspective and at once may suggest novel ways to kindle interest in trainers and students alike while delivering advantage to the industry. Each teacher in a classroom typically experiences three groups of students (a) first group asks a lot of questions in the classroom to understand; (b) second group hangs onto every word the teacher speaks and bonds well with the teacher; and (c) third group does homework happily and seeks guidance from the teacher in correcting their mistakes. It may be each teacher’s observation that it is not necessary that these three groups of students’ behaviour are all the same. This pattern suggests that an individual’s brain may have three functionalities: cognitive, affective and conative. Cognitive functionality relates to ‘set of all mental abilities and processes related to acquiring knowledge’ which is well understood by many and is commonly referred to as the IQ (Intelligence Quotient). Affective functionality relates ’to experience of feeling or emotions’ which is understood by a few and is in popular parlance also referred to as the EQ (Emotional Quotient). Conative functionality relates to ‘natural tendency, impulse, desire, volition, striving or directed effort’ which is less understood and may be referred to as the XQ (Execution Quotient).

Imagine three scenarios based on typical complaints from teachers and / or students. (a) In the first scenario, ‘a student who grasps most of the subject, rarely comes to class, does not do any homework and still gets good marks’. This is a kid who has an exceptional cognitive skill to the exclusion of the other two. (b) In a second scenario, ‘a student always makes it a point to see the teacher in the morning, appears to be intently listening in the classes, cannot do homework and finds the subject very hard to follow’. This is a kid who has an exclusive affective skill with difficulties in the other two parts. (c) In a third scenario, ‘a student is punctual, writes all notes, submits every homework, is expected to perform well, cannot understand or apply the knowledge and may fail in the exams.’ This is a kid who has the drive but lacks sufficient development of cognitive and affective aspects. These three scenarios suggest that a student may come to the class with varied degrees of development of the three functions of the brain. Thus, the challenging task for an educator is to create approaches that may address each of these facets and build students’ confidence in a holistic manner. All stakeholders in education may have to consider this approach to developing students’ necessary aptitude, required skills and the consequent attitude by designing relevant training programs. This, in some measure, will have addressed the lacunae that employers find in the new recruits. PES University has initiated a few training programs for the teachers with this approach in mind.