The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Career Development's programmes benefit youth belonging to different target groups.

Starting from scratch since its inception during mid-2004, the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Career Development (IECD), Bharathidasan University, has come a long way, filling the serious gap in the university educational system by organising entrepreneurship and career development programmes/courses and entrepreneurship sensitisation camps for various target groups.

It has been designing and operating various skills-based and career-oriented short-term certificate courses, diploma, advanced diploma and PG diploma courses for student and non-student school dropouts and unemployed youth. So far, the institute has trained 14,567 candidates: 7,187 through EDPs; 4,398 through short-term courses at the campus; and 2,982 through the off-campus mode. Of them, 2,576 candidates availed themselves of the benefit of scholarship.

Employment opportunities were created for 2,339 students of affiliated colleges, including 1,448 girl students, through campus interviews; 2,476 non-student youths through the on-campus programmes, and 2,561 youths through the off-campus programme. Currently, 1,007 students, including 557 girls, are undergoing the various certificate and diploma programmes. As many as 6,778 students have been enrolled under the SUITS programme. The institute has trained 7,187 persons, mostly belonging to weaker sections of the society, in entrepreneurship development, and has shaped 64 trainees as young entrepreneurs in service sector.

Among the unique programmes are the trainings offered in basic computer operations to deaf and dumb, and instrumental music (keyboard and guitar) to the visually-impaired. Roping in MNCs, the IECD has been at the helm of organising campus interviews for undergraduate and postgraduate students of the university and affiliated colleges.

Alongside offering Skill-based and Career Oriented Continuing Education Programmes through industrial/ institutional tie-ups, leading to Certificate /Diploma / Advanced Diploma / PG Diploma, the IECD has established 87 Entrepreneurship Development Cells (EDC) at college level, conducted coaching classes to Group I and II aspirants among rural youths, evolved skill-based electives (41 Credit Courses under CBCS) to UG Students of Tamil Nadu, initiated the School - University - Industry - Tie-ups Scheme (SUITS) for school children in Tamil Nadu, and offered specialised Skill /Vocation Based Certificate Programme to Rural Artisans.

The IECD has received through the university Rs. 14 lakh from the University Grants Commission for conducting certificate / Diploma /Advanced Diploma in e-Commerce and Entrepreneurship and Career Development during XI Plan period. At present, 85 UG Students of affiliated colleges are undergoing the courses.

The institute has extended its reach to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well. Over 7,700 students are benefited by the IECD's courses. The institute has been acting both as entrepreneurial training and consultancy institute for empowering the youth, according to K. Parthasarathy, Professor and Head, Department of Life-Long Learning, who has been holding full-additional charge of the IECD since its inception.

The IECD was conceptualised and established as per the UGC's X Plan guidelines on Adult, Continuing Education, Extension and Field Outreach, with the philosophy of continuing education as part of the total education programme of the institution; integration between formal and non-formal education and out-of-school learning process; reaching out to the larger sections of adults through the university system and specially deprived groups for the purpose of equalisation of educational opportunities; and introduction of courses offered on campus, off-campus, online and through e-learning.

With an initial university funding of Rs. 10 lakh, the institute, functioning as an autonomous entity, has so far returned a whopping amount exceeding Rs. 2 crore to the university by operating the plethora of programmes. The target group for various courses includes student and non-student youth, current students of schools and colleges, school dropouts, employees, SHG members, senior citizens and junior citizens of the society and physically-challenged persons above the age of 5 years to over 80 years, said Dr. Parthasarathy.

K. Subburaj, Chairman and Executive Director, Cethar Vessels Private Limited, has agreed in principle to provide grant-in-aid of Rs.2.5 crore at an average of Rs. 25 lakh per annum for 10 years continuously for training and making the youth skilled in service sector and also making them as entrepreneurs through the establishment of Lab for Innovation / Skill Development at the Khajamalai Campus. The preparatory work is in progress, Dr. Parthasarathy said.

The institute has been empanelled by the Ministry of Micro and Small Enterprises, Government of India, under Rajiv Gandhi Udyami Mitra Yojana Scheme, for imparting training and playing a lead role for the socio-economic development of youth in general and unemployed youth in particular for making them entrepreneurs with the financial support of the Government of India.