InsighT, an IT awareness initiative for students of class 11, was introduced by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in 2006 to provide an overview of the industry and encourage students to explore IT as a career. Ajoyendra Mukherjee, EVP and Global Head of HR, TCS, shares his views on how the programme has aided the understanding of technical concepts, the status of the IT sector and the quality of education in IT, and the concerns of those aspiring to join the industry.
What is the reach and response to InsighT among the students?
Initially the programme was designed exclusively for Computer Science students. They were taught C++ through the Case Study methodology. However, the demand from non-Computer Science students was so high that TCS started offering sessions on HTML, XML, and Visual Basic. InsighT reached out to 78 students in 2006 and till date about 5,302 students have gone through the programme. It is a combination of technical and life skill courses, which is essential for any Industry.
Students who were scoring 50 – 60 per cent began to score 80 – 90 per cent in Computer Science. For the past three years, CBSE toppers in Computer Science have undergone this programme. The certificates given on successful completion of the programme has enhanced the job availability in the IT Industry.
Your comments on the quality of educational institutions offering IT courses.
While the infrastructure is adequate, the faculty needs more industry exposure. This can be resolved by industries adopting a certain number of institutions and getting the faculty from these institutions for summer internships. This will help faculty keep in touch with changes in industry requirements and current industry practices. The other way is that the industry can also send their executives to academic institutions where can share the experience with the students. This intervention should be done periodically with both students as well as faculty.
Do you think the courses need to be upgraded to suit the requirements of IT companies?
Academia and Industry must actively collaborate in preparing students for the work place. Students bring a lot of theoretical knowledge but application of such knowledge is lacking. One of the best forms of learning is experiential learning.
This form of learning stays with them and once students understand why they need to know certain things, they will learn it better. Updating of curricula needs to keep pace with the rate of change in industry, especially the IT sector.
As a recruiter what qualities would you look for in an employee?
Attitude is the most important aspect. It brings with it the concepts of pride, willingness to learn and ethics. This does not mean that technical skills are not important. However, a skill is easier taught than attitude. This is why life skills are an essential part of the Insight curriculum. Teaching “attitudes” must begin early.
Why should students join the IT sector, considering the current economic climate which is seeing more and more students go back into core areas of engineering?
IT is essential in all sectors, be it banking, medicine, automobile manufacturing or space travel. All industries rely on information, be it research, marketing or servicing. Many rely on Big Data to assess the direction they should take. This is possible only with IT. Real time information is critical in some cases and this is enabled by IT. Automation, robotics is dependent on IT. In short, IT is a tool which every industry needs.
We hear a lot about the unhealthy and stressful life of IT employees. How are do ensure that this does not happen?
Dealing with stress is a very real part of life in the IT industry. Usually, large companies provide opportunities for employees to cope. Some may be small initiatives such as an app that reminds you to blink your eyes and look away from the computer to reduce the strain on the eye.
TCS' HR forum organises festive celebrations, Family Day, Kaleidoscope, a fair for children to bring the TCS family closer together. Apart from celebrations, an array of other unique employee engagement initiatives is also extended to not just the workforce but their families as well.
The organisation also offers varied extra-curricular initiatives like yoga classes, theatre workshops, flower-arrangement sessions, ballroom dancing classes, computer workshops, career counseling and summer camps for children.
TCS Fit4Life, is an initiative that marries Wellness, Team spirit and Social cause into one. This unique workplace-organised fitness initiative is designed to inspire fun, fitness and camaraderie in competition and of course, for the social good.
Time management and stress management are life skill courses offered by InsighT. It teaches students to prioritize, allocate time and resources and deal with stressful situations.
Learning to work in teams, good communication and delegating work are also ways by which students are taught to deal with stress. These are realities they will have to face when they join the work force.
What are the apprehensions of students aspiring to join the IT sector?
Most participants have problems with communication and self confidence. On the technical side, they are not confident of applying the theoretical knowledge they posses.
An on-site engagement is what many aspire for but they are also apprehensive about working in a multi-cultural environment. Life skills must be an integral part of any school or undergraduate programme.