Improving communication skills, a virgin market

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With the economic boom and the phenomenal growth in the BPO and IT sectors, India has realized the importance of communication skills. “But this segment is still a virgin market”, observes V.Gopalakrishnan, General Manager (Franchise), of Veta, a 26-year-old Spoken English teaching academy. “India has become virtually the hub of global back office operations and the market scenario is highly encouraging for those who know English. Though this Communications Skill Improvement industry is worth Rs 1,200 crores, there are only a few organized players. Rest are all self-styled, mostly like private tuition, and there is hardly any scientific study involved in this exercise”, he points out in an interaction with G.Satyamurty. He was here in connection with the opening of a centre of Veta. Veta, originally known as Vivekananda Institute in Chennai, has 104 centres across the country. “By June 2008, we will have 100 more centres”. There are three areas where such academies can work. First is to help home study; another is setting up training centres and the third is organizing training centres for the corporate clients. “A number of companies want us to train their employees”. Mr.Gopalakrishnan says that even students and colleges want such a help and summer courses are organized because all of them do know that when they appear for campus interviews, it is their communication skill that can stand them in good stead. He is confident that “crash courses” could be helpful; but they should be done through “direct centres”. “We don’t believe in academic background (scoring high marks) while choosing the faculty. They should encourage the students learn the language which is alien. They should not demotivate the candidates”. According to him, the ideal situation would be to have small batches of 25 and two hours a day. The theory should be minimal, as little as 10 minutes. But it is the interaction between the faculty and the candidates, which is imperative. Weak students could be provided extra classes and care. Feedback is the most important and the academy gets it on the seventh day of the course itself. “At times, the feedback from the students comes almost every day”. Mr.Gopalakrishnan points out that though North is known for poor proficiency in English, the interest and enthusiasm shown by candidates even from States like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar for spoken English courses is overwhelming because “ they have started feeling the necessity of it”. “Can you believe students from Punjab and Haryana come all the way to Delhi to join such classes?” He says that he was pleasantly surprised to know that all the 80-odd spoken English institutes in Lucknow are fullHe points out that columns like “Know your English” in the newspapers in the North also are very popular and such columnists are in very high demand. In a rural market like Virudhunagar, students do not evince much interest for such courses initially. But once they think of job seeking, they could understand this would be a “value addition” and then flock to such institutes. An interesting aspect of this industry is that most of the faculty are part-timers and also women, including a large number of homemakers.




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