To bridge the skill gap
The Kerala State IT Mission has changed tracks as the NASSCOM Assessment of Competence test has failed to take off. It is now planning a series of tests to identify the skill gaps of aspirants for IT jobs in the State and help address these.
The cardinal difference between NAC and the courses planned is that the former was about identifying a student’s pluses and minuses vis-À-vis jobs.
With almost no response from students in the State to NASSCOM Assessment of Competence (NAC) tests, the Kerala State IT Mission is working on a series of courses to address skill gaps in aspirants of information technology (IT) and IT-enabled-services (ITES) jobs.
The mission had entered into a joint initiative with NASSCOM, premier trade body and chamber of commerce of the IT and ITES industries, to conduct the tests designed to identify the skill gaps.
The approach now, says a concept paper prepared by the mission, is a mass-based campaign for IT human-resource development with public-private participation.
“The proposal leverages on the previous mass-based campaigns which have been successfully carried out, including Saksharata, IT@School and Akshaya … This strategy proposes to tap the potential of the educated youth of the State by instituting differentiated skill upgrade programmes,” the paper says. The mission is talking to IT and ITES firms about putting in place three or four modular courses ideally of six- to 12-week duration. IT Secretary Ajay Kumar told The Hindu Educationplus that leading companies, such as TCS, Infosys and IBS, were among those being consulted. “There is a focus group in the IT Mission that is working on this matter. In the next two to six months, these courses should be in place,” he said.
It is the mission’s guess now that these courses will cost a student between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 30,000. The mission has written to the State-Level Bankers’ Committee asking if loans can be arranged for the students. The current thinking is to set up a network of training centres in the State — with the assistance of Akshaya and the IT@School programmes — to offer these courses. The cardinal difference between NAC and the courses planned is that the former was about identifying a student’s pluses and minuses vis-À-vis jobs. For this, the student would write tests that gauged language skills, precision of logic, keyboard skills and so on. One school of thought in the mission and in the IT department is that these tests failed to click partly because there was no follow-up plan on the part of the State government to address the skill gaps. For the most part, NAC failed to succeed owing to administrative stress fractures within the mission.
As regards the new, module-based, courses being thought of, the decision on which test to take will rest mostly with the student. As Mr. Ajay Kumar explained, a candidate graduating from an engineering college will probably want to take the module that deals with language and soft skills. A candidate from an arts and science college will probably want to sign up for the module on analytical skills, logical thinking and so on.
The concept paper says the content of the modular courses will be based on the skill gaps assessed through an assessment test to be carried out in conjunction with the industry. It is not clear now whether this test will be NAC or a new one designed by the mission, in association with IT companies.
The paper speaks of a “mass-based campaign” for identifying candidates eligible for undergoing the training programmes. The aim is to select 200 youth from each panchayat so that two lakh youth can be trained in two years. Data from a household survey carried out by Akshaya centres as part of the e-literacy campaign will be used for this purpose.
The paper is upbeat about the possibility of the IT companies funding these programmes. These companies face an acute shortage of trained manpower and so can be expected to provide support to the mission’s initiative in areas of course development, training of trainers and placement.
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