While e-publishing enterprises are on the lookout for freshers, educational institutions fall short of producing industry-ready employees
As much as you would like to curl up with a paperback, it cannot be denied that a lot of what we read today comes from outside the covers of a book. Our information stems from computers, mobiles and a range of electronic devices, making e-publishing highly relevant.
Towns like Puducherry have their share of e-publishing enterprises — both large and small units — delivering text that is edited, proof-read, illustrated and packaged attractively, without involving reams of paper, which works out more economically for the end-user.
The multiple roles that e-publishing calls for translates to a range of career profiles — proof readers, copy editors, graphic designers, paginators and project managers.
No training in college
While the e-publishing industry is on the lookout for freshers every year, colleges or institutions offering a certificate or diploma course in e-publishing, are almost non-existent, leading to a dearth of employable candidates. “The industry requires freshers every year as most projects have roles that necessitate a 60: 40 ratio of experienced hands to entrants,” says an HR manager of a top multinational publishing firm in Puducherry.
Despite being a career-oriented course, few government or private colleges have evinced interest in starting an e-publishing course.
While a couple of polytechnic institutes including the Government Women’s Polytechnic in Lawspet, Puducherry, offered a diploma course a few years back, the course has been discontinued for sometime now.
While institutions may cite various reasons like lack of trained faculty, willingness of students to stay after college hours as reasons, Vijay, general manager, Navayuga, which offers computer-related courses, says the youth are oriented towards web developing, multimedia and dot net programmes. “The expenses involved in running an e-publishing course are relatively higher compared to other computer courses, mainly due to the licensed pagination software involved,” he says.
Arguing that the software is less expensive compared to certain multimedia programmes, industry experts feel a lack of awareness about prospects in e-publishing, both among students and institutions, is to blame.
“We have learned to develop resources internally without looking to institutions,” says Anil Karthikeyan, senior general manager (HR), Integra, explaining the company has developed its own professional training curriculum. Usually, degree or diploma holders are recruited and put through 45 days to 60 days of intensive training at e-publishing enterprises.
“But it takes three to six months, sometimes almost a year (depending on profile and capability) for a candidate to become deployable and productive,” admits Daisy Michael, vice-president, international operations and quality, in charge of curriculum.
This is particularly true in the case of copy editors where the training starts from polishing basic grammar to making them competent in editing the work of an overseas author.
Not just English graduates, but those from a science or engineering background with competent language skills are preferred as bulk of the publishing involves scientific and technical books.
Increase business flow
The industry may not attract the best talent with starting salaries falling in the range of Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 10,000.
But this could be attributed to what Anil says, “There is an initial investment that goes into the making of an e-publishing professional which comes from the company.” But a few years in e-publishing can help a candidate climb the ladder quickly, as a percentage of the compensation is also performance-based.
What e-publishing enterprises would prefer to see in future are industry ready candidates who can save the company time and investment in training, particularly as employees tend to migrate within the industry.
If institutions turn out market-ready candidates, the e-publishing sector can expect an increase in growth of business, says Anu Sriram, co-founder of Integra. But government and private institutions are yet to capitalise on this career opportunity by offering the requisite training.
The company has proposed a vocational course in the government ITI in Puducherry.
“The initial set-up of the course can be facilitated by industry experts, but institutions should have the will and passion to pursue this independently,” she asserts.