Technopark is becoming a destination for training centres of IT firms

Even as the much touted Phase three of Technopark nears completion, the ground work has already started for the development of ‘phase four’ – perhaps Kerala’s most ambitious IT infrastructure project yet – Technocity, which is slated to come up in the Pallipuram-Mangalapuram area on the outskirts of the city. One of the biggest buzz generators of the project has been IT major Tata Consultancy Services’ (TCS) plan to set up its Global Learning and Development Centre, pegged to be one of the largest such training facilities in the world, at Technocity. And when it becomes fully operational it is said that the facility can accommodate up to 15,000 trainees at a time, with about four batches a year!

And now we come to the reason why Thiruvananthapuram is the chosen destination. It’s not really the most hep and happening place for a large bunch of 20-somethings with income at their disposal, now, is it? “Actually, from the perspective of a training centre, the city is well-suited,” says IT professional and socio-development blogger Ajay Prasad.

“It has an abundance of human resources from the colleges in and around the city, the rest of Kerala as well as from southern Tamil Nadu. It also has a very conducive environment for training because the lifestyle is much more relaxed than a Bangalore or a Chennai,” he adds. K.C. Chandrashekaran Nair, chief financial officer, Technopark agrees and adds: “I think having no distraction (read malls, pubs, multiplexes, and the like) is an advantage in this instance. The freshers are here to learn and integrate themselves into the IT world and you don’t want any distractions at that time.”

But such ‘distractions’ are a way of life for most youngsters nowadays. And neither Technopark nor the city has the requisite level of social infrastructure – hotels, retail, entertainment and so on. “Such is the shortage that IT professionals often complain of the lack of things to do after work and perhaps that is why companies such as TCS are building massive campuses that integrate social amenities within their facilities,” says Ajay.

Chandrashekaran Nair adds: “As the needs of the populace increase, so will the social amenities. For example, when Technopark was started in the early 1990s the Kazhakoottam area was a quiet suburb with nothing to cater to so-called techie lifestyles. Now, it has restaurants, first release theatres, hostels, apartments, and other amenities that cater to every possible whim. When Technocity becomes operational, hopefully, we will see a similar development. In fact, Technocity is being promoted by TCS as a ‘integrated township project’ that will comprise IT / ITeS firms, residential apartments, shopping malls, a 10, 000-bed hospital, hotels, educational institutions, off campus centres of major international universities….”

However, training centres are not new to Technopark, and also already has quite a number of people under 25 working on campus. TCS has already had a state-of-the-art training centre here since 1998, which was later expanded to the larger Peepul Park in the mid 2000s. Most of the other major companies such as UST Global, IBS and the like also have training facilities – all in house (not Infosys, though, which has a mega Global Education Centre in Mysore, among other places).

UST for example, has an area in its office at Tejaswini building, set aside solely for its ‘Alpha’ programme (the moniker for their six month training session). Most of these training courses last anywhere from six weeks to six months and each can accommodate 30 to 50 people at a time.

“All these training facilities are designed to transform ‘engineers’ from across disciplines into bona fide ‘software professionals’. And of course, initiate them into the techie way of life,” says a senior IT professional, who is in charge of a multi-national company’s (MNC) training operations at Technopark. All these programmes apparently put the techies through the grind with lessons on programming languages, tests, assessments, team building exercises and towards the end of the course, project specific training too. Techie Sunu Susan Thomas, who has been a trainee at an MNC for three months now, says: “Coming straight from college, I was initially very scared about the corporate world. Some companies I’ve heard put trainees through 12-14 hour shifts! However, thankfully, my course is not that rigid and more or less like a nine-to-five job, with plenty of games and activities in between.”

While training centres don’t add actual employment, they do encourage IT companies to open development centres in the city, so that they can take advantage of trained freshers. “It’s not like a college course. The trainees are usually paid full salaries and hence contribute to the local economy,” says Chandrashekaran Nair.