Government arts colleges have long struggled to find a balance between social equity and generating quality employable graduates. However, the government is now stepping in with measures aimed at bridging the divide between graduation and employability.

One of the outcomes was a recruitment drive for jobs at BPO units of Infosys held at the Government Arts College, Nandanam, on Sunday. The selection exam which was taken by about 250 students is part of a programme called Project Genesis.

“The programme started with a training phase which involved two teachers each from 62 government colleges being trained by a representative from the corporate sector,” said Surya Prakasan, the Tamil Nadu project coordinator. “They have to first understand what the corporate sector expects from students.”

He added that the government has also recently introduced an ‘add-on course' programme through which Arts college students can do certain modules in a nearby polytechnic college after class hours and earn a vocational degree.

Though proposals have been around for a while, the issue has acquired urgency after a study undertaken in 2009 by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) pointed out that the contribution of students from government colleges to the job sector is abysmally low and that most lack in communication skills.

“The problem is that a bachelor's degree in arts or science is just a base,” said S.Elango, principal of the college. “Our students can only become teachers or apply for a clerical post. Since they are weak in fundamentals and are from a disadvantaged economic background, some kind of job-oriented certification course will help.”

J.Sanjeevagandhan was one of the students who took the test on Sunday. After doing part-time jobs for three years to be able to do his B.Sc in Physics and pay his room rent, he says he does not know what a BPO job means. “I am sitting for the test only because the company has promised to help us pursue higher education after a few years of work.”

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