Thanks to State-funded IT Finishing Schools, the placement record for SC/ST communities is seeing significant improvement.

This could be the latest in social justice, not mandating a specific quota for scheduled castes and tribes in the private sector, but quietly empowering them to get employment in the corporate sector.

Their placement records show that these engineering students belong to disadvantaged castes such as Pallar, Paraiyar, Arundathiyar and Adi Dravidar, among others. The list of companies they are placed in includes TCS, Cognizant, Wipro, Infosys, HCL, Standard Chartered, L&T and Gammon.

State-funded IT Finishing Schools have enabled 786 engineering students from SC/ST communities earn placements in national and multinational companies and 640 students from arts and science colleges get into the business process outsourcing industry this year.

After a survey revealed a poor placement record for SC/ST students, the Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing and Development Corporation (TAHDCO) came up with the idea of an IT Finishing School programme for 2010-11.

Targeting final-year students in engineering and arts and science colleges, TAHDCO initially roped in the Directorate of Technical Education and through it the ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu to train two faculty members in each selected college, who, in turn, would train other staff members. The training was in programming fundamentals, data structures using C and C++, networks, database and software engineering, say TAHDCO officials.

Transtaff Solutions provided the soft-skill training. “Students were taught verbal and numerical ability, logical reasoning, facing technical and HR interviews, sample placement papers and mock tests were held, which helped them face campus interviews with confidence,” says A. Saravanan, Director, Transtaff Solutions.

The results are there to see. Of the 1,450-odd engineering students, both undergraduate and post-graduate, 786 have been placed for salaries ranging from Rs.1.15 lakh to above Rs.3 lakh per annum. The salary package of IT companies is better than that in core companies, say TAHDCO officials.

Similarly, out of the 1,200-odd arts and science students who underwent the programme, 640 have been placed in the BPO industry. They got no concession in the base criteria for selection — 60 per cent marks and no failure until the fourth year.

The finishing school concept improved the SC/ST placement record in the respective campuses from less than 10 per cent to 54 per cent.

Funds delay

The flip side of the story is that the bureaucratic delay has resulted in government's funds for the purpose not being used for the same year but being carried over to the next year. While the training is usually between July and September, the government order for 2010-11 came in December 2010 and it took more time for the State to sanction the money. Therefore, the scheme for 2010-11 was implemented only in 2011-12, say official sources.

For the IT Finishing School programme 2011-12, the G.O came only on January 6, 2012 after which TAHDCO has finalised the tenders and chosen three private companies to impart both hard and soft skills. The work order was given to the companies only on July 6, 2012. Therefore, the IT Finishing School programme for the year 2011-12 will be carried out only for the academic year 2012-13, effectively skipping a year of the programme.