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Across verticals, HR heads are grappling with the issue of tapping the 'right' kind of talent. Juxtaposed with this problem is that the number of the educated unemployed and under-employed youth in the country is rising alarmingly. Here's an innovative application aimed at overcoming the core issues responsible for this mis-match between industry needs and talent availability!
"I made my own assessment of my life, and I began to live it. That was freedom."
An innovation is often aimed at addressing a problem in the eco-system. Focusing single-mindedly on solving a particular issue invariably leads to the evolution of tools and technologies that have the power to challenge the status quo.
"We felt that a gap existed in the eco-system, which needed to be addressed in a scalable and efficient manner. There was a requirement for a tool that could assess the disparate, nation-wide human capital/talent against certain standardised benchmarks-acceptable to the corporate world at large. Furthermore, a platform was required where these assessment scores would be visible to recruiters any time, so as to enable them access to the large pool of available talent."
The realisation led to the creation of AMCAT. As the name suggests, AMCAT is a test that fresh graduates can take up, any time of the year, to get an assessment of how their skills compare against those required for different jobs in the market, explains Aggarwal. "This assessment is a standardised score, which is made transparent to all our clients on a portal. This way, the graduates get to highlight their skills to multiple companies and get the opportunities to land a job whenever they are shortlisted by our clients."
Multiple modes to reach a larger audience
Aggarwal shares details related to the mechanism that makes the test dependable, scalable and dynamic in real-time: "The product is based on the item-response-theory (IRT), an advanced statistical theory in educational measurement that makes the test adaptive and leak-proof. "IRT provides a framework to build mathematical models for questions vis-a-vis their difficulty, discrimination power and the guess probability," tells Aggarwal. These algorithms estimate the candidate's ability after delivering every question and then provide a question with a difficulty level close to the estimated ability of the candidate. The test automatically ‘content-balances' and makes sure that the candidate gets the appropriate number of questions from each sub-section. "This allows a very accurate candidate assessment, with the final score depending on how hard a question the candidate answered correctly," says Aggarwal.
Another important aspect of the tool is the delivery and MIS (management information system) framework, which manages end-to-end delivery. This includes candidate registration, test delivery, result and feedback dispatch and finally the transfer of candidate scores on the Aspiring Mind's corporate portal with shortlisting and candidate-contact facilities.
Through another of AM's products, TalentMap, candidate scores are mapped against the criteria specified by the various registered companies. The application then shares leads with companies registered with AM on the resources that match their requirements. Candidates, on the other hand, are informed about jobs that they can apply for and where their chances of being selected are relatively higher.
The challenges, and the way forward
But the real challenges were technical and came from the environment in which the tests were deployed and conducted, shares Aggarwal. "These were typically virus ridden computer labs of the different educational campuses, with uncertain hardware and flaky networks. Our assessment delivery technology had to be adapted to meet and overcome these challenges," he adds.
The content of the tests is sourced through a panel of experts from academia, such as Dr Vidya Kulkarni and Dr Shashi Khurana from the University of Delhi, Dr Maneesha Gupta from NSIT, etc. "An internal quality assurance team reviews the content based on inputs received from the industry survey about the skills that various verticals are looking for, and also for stylistic and grammatical correctness," says Aggarwal.
"We charge a substantially lower fee than consultants do to enable a large set of companies to hire candidates, comfortably. This is a great proposition for start-ups and SMEs in particular, since with little effort they can access the best of students, interview them at their premises and make offers," he adds.
On the campus side, AM has built relations with many educational institutions, including Delhi College of Engineering, Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, Banasthali Vidyapeeth, NIT Allahabad, Kurukshetra University, and over 250 other campuses, shares Aggarwal.
Aggarwal believes that it's not just the technological superiority of a product that plays a role in the success of a start-up but also the strategy that it adopts to reach its target segment. He shares: "The team believes in first making people understand its core value proposition and gets endorsements from thought leaders to then create mass appeal through activities, such as sponsoring HR seminars, events, organising placement seminars, etc." AM also uses the Internet extensively for brand promotion, he adds.
AM is investing continuously in research to come up with innovations. The dedicated R&D team is continuously working on new product ideas to serve AM's broad vision-which is to create credible assessment products for multiple business verticals including IT, ITeS, BFSI, pharma, infrastructure, manufacturing, etc, says Aggarwal. "A matrix of assessment, delivery and process tools will ensure the relevance of our products across verticals, rapidly," he adds.
Now, even though AM has only been in business for a little over two years, it comes across as a firm led by an articulate and confident team that knows the relevance of adding new dimensions to its products portfolio as well as business model.
The AM team is equally meticulous when it comes to expense management, and identifying and retaining the 'right' talent to sustain its growth. Here's how the firm achieves this...