ICT academy seeks to address companies’ complaint that graduates are not employable

Training the trainer might not just be enough; after all, it is the student who is evaluated on different fronts. The ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu (ICTACT), which has trained 6,000 teachers in over 380 engineering colleges in three years, will enter campuses and impart employability skills to students. The Academy, an initiative by the Central and State governments, is also funded by several IT companies. Nearly 65 of the 500 colleges, whose students will be trained, are in Chennai and outskirts.

One of the main areas of focus of the academy, a unique public-private partnership, has been the issue of low levels of employability among the engineering graduates of the State. These are some of the highest in the country. Employers have been regularly complaining that fresh graduates joining software companies are not fit to be employed because many of them lack communication and technical skills. A national-level employability report that was released last year placed Tamil Nadu among the low-rung States with respect to employability skills. “But now, the complaints are slowly subsiding. No first or second-tier company is saying that now,” said Lakshmi Narayan, chairman of ICTACT and vice-chairman, Cognizant Technologies Solutions. The academy will also train students in leadership skills, innovation and cutting-edge technologies apart from the usual skills that will be needed in workplace.

Nearly 12 companies, including bigwigs such as Cognizant, TCS, Microsoft, Intel, Hexaware, Oracle, Autodesk, National Instruments among others, are partners with the academy which develops the curriculum to be imparted and also provides resource-persons.

Trainers at the academy say that many of the teachers who came there to hone their skills were quite sound technically but had problems conveying the concepts to students. “We encourage them to teach students using examples. That has really worked in the favour of students because many of them understand concepts better,” says a trainer.

So what do colleges think of the idea? Those who are already part of the academy feel there can be nothing better than the academy reaching out to the students themselves.

They also feel this will ease the burden of placements on them. “The industry knows its needs much better. We spend as much as Rs. 1 crore every year on training students so that they get placed but we don’t often get good trainers,” says a college principal

The training of college teachers will also go on simultaneously, assured Mr. Lakshmi Narayan. As of now, trainers who have three years’ experience are imparted the week-long training on technical subjects and language scripts. However college authorities want more numbers trained. “While we understand that they want to train those who are likely to stay on in the profession, it would be better if they could also train the M. Tech students who join as teachers in engineering college. Often, they are deputed to teach the first-year and second-year students and most of them find it very difficult to communicate,” says another principal of a private college.