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National Knowledge Functional Hub to come up in Coimbatore

Amutha Kannan
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It will be a collaborative framework of academia and industry

(From left) K. Venkataramanan, chairman, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Capital Goods Committee, M. Anandakrishnan, chairman, FICCI Higher Education Committee and Shobha Mishra Ghosh, director, FICCI, at an interaction organised by FICCI at Larsen & Toubro Ltd. in Coimbatore on Tuesday. — Photo: M. Periasamy
(From left) K. Venkataramanan, chairman, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Capital Goods Committee, M. Anandakrishnan, chairman, FICCI Higher Education Committee and Shobha Mishra Ghosh, director, FICCI, at an interaction organised by FICCI at Larsen & Toubro Ltd. in Coimbatore on Tuesday. — Photo: M. Periasamy

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is working on setting up National Knowledge Functional Hubs in a few places in the country. The hubs are envisaged to be a collaborative framework of academia and industry, focussing on specific industry verticals.

Explaining the concept, K. Venkataramanan, whole-time director and president (Engineering and Construction Projects) of Larsen & Toubro Limited, and chairman of the FICCI Capital Goods Committee, said the hubs were a collaborative initiative of Capital Goods Committee and Higher Education Committee of FICCI.

He was in Coimbatore along with M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman of the Indian Institute of Kanpur, and of the FICCI Higher Education Committee, to meet representatives from the industry and academia to disseminate information about the hubs and encourage them to come together to form hubs.

“The hub model was kicked off in February 2011. We are looking at setting up a few in the Western, Northern and Southern region to begin with. In the Southern region, one in Bangalore and the other in Coimbatore are being planned. In Coimbatore, a few industries have expressed interest, while Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetam will be the academia partner to begin with,” Mr. Venkataramanan said.

The model was to increase the skill development of the students, and make them employable, with the involvement of the industry.

Mr. Anandakrishnan said that without skill training, the youth, who were considered an asset, would become a liability. “Vocational and formal streams are running parallel now and this is a disaster. There have been industry-institute cells in college. But nothing has come out of it. It is time there are real linkages. To avoid social and economic stress in the future, it is essential that vocational training continues to the Ph.D. level. To deliver and sustain this training, the training must be done in partnership with the industry,” Mr. Anandakrishnan said.

Elaborating on the route map for Coimbatore, he said that once the core group for the hub was formed, it had to identify a domain of activity which would enhance the knowledge and skill capability of students.

“The required infrastructure and human resources should then be put in place. Though the initial investment will be from the industries and institutions forming the hub, it can then seek assistance from the Government, and eventually make it into a self-sustainable business model,” Mr. Anandakrishnan said.

Shobha Mishra Ghosh, director, FICCI, said the hub model would include hand-holding by the core group, which already had best practices in their industries and institutions, with those who wanted to introduce them in their respective workplaces to improve the quality of graduates and scope of employability.

The hubs were expected to be formally launched in the next few months.

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