[Pick the date]VIDYA POSHAK- GRADUATEFINISHING SCHOOL                     AMAL.K              amal.iirm@gmail.com
Are our students really employable?Government of India boasts of an impressive improvement in the Gross Enrolment Ratio(GE...
VIDYA POSHAK’S GRADUATE FINISHING SCHOOL  Vidyaposhak, a non-governmental organization has been working on some of the pre...
Prof. Tilkot had a clear view of the kind of training to be given for a fresh university     graduate: “Teaching any skill...
Many students who had joined corporations right after the course stayed with their recruitersfor more than two years. The ...
Diagram 1: Number of GFS students by district                              Distribution of Students                    Fro...
Nitin Desai, regional head, Agastya International Foundation, feels that “Vidya Poshak is anideal place for us to hire fel...
Diagram 2: Number of Students Graduated                          Students Graduated  600                                  ...
(See annexure1 for detailed course content and list of recruiters)    Travel and     logistics                 Sectoral br...
NEED FOR GOING BEYOND THE OBVIOUSWith more organizations entering the skilling space, the point of differentiation will be...
WAY AHEADStarted as an answer to the problem of unemployment among youth, GFS has successfullyhelped more than 1500 studen...
‘branching                                    out’.ANNEXURE 1:Course Syllabus- Graduate Finishing School:   A. Functional ...
D. Analytical Skills:   E. Core Competency Enhancement:Annexure 2:A day at Graduate Finishing School:                     ...
Annexure 3: List of repeated recruiters: ACCENTURE                                      HDFC BANK CMS COMPUTERS           ...
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  1. 1. [Pick the date]VIDYA POSHAK- GRADUATEFINISHING SCHOOL AMAL.K amal.iirm@gmail.com
  2. 2. Are our students really employable?Government of India boasts of an impressive improvement in the Gross Enrolment Ratio(GER) in the last leg of the 11th five year plan. India indeed achieved a GER figure of 18.8%.It created a huge fuss when N. R. Narayana Murthy, the chief of Infosys, commented earlierin 2011 that only 25% of India’s graduate youth are employable. Within months, Mrs.Prathibha Patil, then president of the Union of India, corrected the figure saying that only15% of our boys and girls passing out of college have the skills required to becomeemployable. The latest shock came when Goverdhan Mehta, the chairman of the NationalAssessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), commented earlier this year that only 10percent of graduates are employable.The British Council categorically stated in their 2009’s report on employability in India:“India is facing a national skills deficit. Twelve million young people are leaving school eachyear without the vocational and life skills required for basic employment.1” The BritishCouncil’s recipe for the identified problem came in the form of “English for progress’, aunique initiative for making a good number of college graduates employable in the thrivingBPO sector by providing them with basic working English knowledge. The government ofIndia has also given special emphasis to tackling the problem of employability, and effortshave been made pan-India level. The saddest part is that many of these initiatives remainwithin pockets of certain urban and semi-urban peripheries and vast geographies remaininsufficiently covered. The Northern Karnataka Sandbox region unfortunately happens to bean area which failed to attract much of any institutionalized initiatives to scaffold the existingcollege education system; hence, it fails to be injected with some of the most criticalemployability skills and attitudes required by the corporate realm for hiring graduates,especially from non-technical backgrounds.1 British Council,2009, Citation from http://www.britishcouncil.org.in/efponline/sessions/19_3.html 2
  3. 3. VIDYA POSHAK’S GRADUATE FINISHING SCHOOL Vidyaposhak, a non-governmental organization has been working on some of the pressing needs facing the student community in Karnataka and Parts of Maharashtra since last 12 years. The organization has successfully helped transform lives of thousands of under-served students by providing financial assistance to the students to pursue higher education. As the organization worked with students over a decade of time, Vidyaposhak identified the failure of the present day educational system in equipping the students with the critical employability skills that the job market ask for. This identification led to a offering a solution to in the form of Graduate finishing school. Prof. Raghavendra Tilkot, founding member and CEO of Vidya Poshak, remembers the initial thoughts of the core team and the earlier days of initiating GSF. “Only close to 18 percent of the students in the ages of 18-23 opt for higher education - beyond 10+2 - in India...the most worrying factor here is the quality of education...the university education system clearly failed to meet the quality requirements of the contemporary industry, economy and the general society they live in. So there is a huge gap...this is a well known fact and Vidya Poshak wanted to do the little which we can to address the issue. Out of the vast periphery ofProf. R.N.Tilkot, Founder, CEO, Vidya Poshak problems, we identified one element to work and that was imparting skills required to fetch a job in the larger job market.” “Thanks to Deshpande Foundation, they send Sheela, an Indi-Global Fellow from USA to work with us. She worked with our team for two years, and she along with the team members visited not less than 20 companies and took extensive information regarding the employability skills they were looking for - to be specific, for the service sector entry level jobs. We realized that it is the service sector industries that absorb large chunk of the graduates from non-technical backgrounds and we, after considering the inputs received from the industry, framed a curriculum after 6 months of works and in 2007 we launched Graduate Finishing School...We may not be bringing in the excellence, but [we are] bridging the gap very successfully.” 3
  4. 4. Prof. Tilkot had a clear view of the kind of training to be given for a fresh university graduate: “Teaching any skills is not paramount. The students comes from the typical university system and they need to be brought out of the university mindset...The biggest thing we do with the students is that we break the time barrier. Once you tune someone to work happily for 10 hours a day, our work is done...The first 15 days of the program is the most important period in programs like GFS. We should demonstrate what we expect and demand the same back from the students...” (See annexure 2 for the daily schedule at GSF) Sanjay Vaidya, finance manager of Sankalp Semi Conductors, an ex-employee of Vidya Poshak, agrees with this: “The biggest thing that GFS had done is that they broke the time barrier for the students. They taught them not to look at their watch, and that is a big attitudinal change.” Graduate Finishing School, as a scaffolding institution, helps add that extra skill and attitudinal elements into students which differentiates an employable and non-employable candidate. As stated by Prof. Tilkot, the key elements like breaking the time barrier and putting the spirit within the students to go the extra mile actually help students hailing from some of the most underserved regions of the state of Karnataka to excel in the highly competitive work environment in some of the big names in the market.Mary Cathrine Sandhya from Raichur went Basappa Guli from Goswar, Belgaumon to do her Masters in Business district, testifies that he could not haveManagement after working with Hewlett had been able to get a job in BangalorePackard in Bangalore for 14 months. like the one which is currently fetchingThomas, her proud father said: “My daughter him a 5-digit salary right after graduationgot a job in HP Company in Bangalore right lest he had joined GFS. A pass out of theafter doing her course in Vidya Poshak in 2011-12 batch from Dharwad centre, he isGulbarga. Now she is pursuing her higher the lone graduate from his family of finve.studies in Management with Human Both his father and younger brother areResource as her specialization. She was farmers and his elder sister got married.getting Rs. 1.8 Lakh per annum, and she said Basappa is confident of climbing up in theshe will get an even better job in HP itself career ladder after 10 months of corporateonce she completes her masters.” experience in Indocom Global. 4
  5. 5. Many students who had joined corporations right after the course stayed with their recruitersfor more than two years. The 15 odd repeated Multi National Corporations recruitingrepetitively from testify that the students add value to the organizations, and in most casesGFS gets a higher number of recruits through alumni reference rather than by any othermeans.Table 1: Number of GFS students by district:DISTRICT 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 TOTALBagalkot 14 36 24 74Bangalore 0 2 0 2Belgaum 47 64 57 168Bellary 0 6 6 12Bidar 4 4 5 13Bijapur 20 22 11 53Chamraj Nagar 0 1 1 2Chikmangalore 1 0 14 15Davangare 0 1 7 8Dharwad 29 31 25 85Gadag 7 5 13 25Gulbarga 40 19 32 91Hasan 0 1 1 2Haveri 12 11 28 51Karwar 1 5 12 18Koppal 1 2 5 8Mahboobnagar 1 1 2Mandya 0 1 2 3Mysore 0 4 22 26Raichur 5 15 10 30Shimoga 2 3 4 9Udupi 0 1 0 1Uttara Karnataka 14 17 26 57Yadgir 0 0 1 1TOTAL 199 252 306 757 5
  6. 6. Diagram 1: Number of GFS students by district Distribution of Students From Districts other than N.Karnataka 9% From From SB N.Karnataka 51% Outside SB districts 40%*SB-Sand Box districts- Dharwad, Belgaum, Gadag, Haveri and Uttar KannadaHighest number of students has joined from districts like Belgaum, Gulbarga, Haveri, BijapurBagalkot and Uttar Kannada. Students from these districts had been largely successful ingetting placed in reputed MNC like Hewlett Packard, Fidelity Investments, Tech Mahindra, etting MNC’s ,and JP Morgan, in positions for which they mostly competed with candidates from theMetros and other states. a good number of placements are happening in cities like Pine andChennai also.“Students from the villages and underserved backgrounds have more serious reasons to stickwith an employer for longer periods. They are in a dire need for employability, unlike anaverage Bangalorean for whom a job is more of a choice than a serious necessity. This is the choicereason why students from this region tend to work hard, and because most of them havecommitments and responsibilities to shoulder they tend to stay longer with their employers.”Sanjay Vaidya, who handled placements for more than three years in Vidya Poshak, added. , placementsOne big thing that the recruiters look for apart from the skill levels in their recruits is thetenure that one stays with the company for. In the KPO/BPO sector, where the HR managersfind it extremely difficult to maintain the required number of employees at any given point,programs like GFS come in very handy. “Recruits from Vidya Poshak tend to stay for longerperiods and that is one of the most important reasons why we hire from them regularly,” anHR associate from HP Bangalore iterates. 6
  7. 7. Nitin Desai, regional head, Agastya International Foundation, feels that “Vidya Poshak is anideal place for us to hire fellows. Our earlier hiring has been quite satisfactory and most ofthem are still with us. They understand the culture and contribute well in the organization.We hired Srishail two years before and he is one of the best trainers I have. This year wewish to hire three more from GSF.”Indeed, GFS is also a spot for recruiters from the North Karnataka region to pick somemarket-ready employees quickly.BRANCHING OUT STRATEGYA man with a clear vision, Prof. Tilkot is very sure about the future of his program. “AnNGO should not hang on to a project for hundreds of years. They should partner with others,develop and model through a pilot, build the model and once they evolve a successful model,they should start sharing it with others. Since the NGOs do not work like businessenterprises, their intention is the benefit of a large number of people...There should behundreds of colleges running GFSs. By that time Vidya Poshak should be working on someother pilot to branch out,” he said.National Educational Society, Shimoga, and Swami Vivekananda Girijana Sahaya Samiti,Mysore, are two organizations which had currently partnered with Vidya Poshak to run GFSin their own premises. The branching out strategy, where Vidya Poshak transfers thetechnology and facilitate setup of GFS centres at locations outside Dharwad, has helped theprogram reach out to more number of students Year on Year (YOY). From 2010-11 to 2011-12, YOY growth has been an impressive 19.3% and 32.1% respectively. The best part of thebranching out strategy has been that the new centres also managed attract some of the bestcompanies as recruiters that have traditionally been recruiting from the mother centre atDharwad and maintained the tradition of placing 100% of the students.“There is a good amount of exchange between the three centres and we from the Dharwardcentre visit other centres at regular intervals. There has been a good amount of handholdingin the beginning and we make sure the new centres reach the level of operating their own.They maintain the same quality that we have here and that’s why they are able to maintainalmost the same level of placements as we have in Dharwad,” Anand Rao, Director, VidyaPoshak, added. 7
  8. 8. Diagram 2: Number of Students Graduated Students Graduated 600 531 500 400 402 337 300 Students Graduated 200 100 0 09-10 10-11 11 11-12The unique distinction that differentiates GFS from other similar initiatives is the scale itmanaged to achieve over the years. The program successfully penetrated in the North, Westand South Karnataka through meaningful partnerships. TheNOT ONLY ENGLISH AND COMPUTERS SHOne of the key distinguishing factors of GFS has been that the program imparts skills beyondthe basic BPO/KPO skills. “We have kept a good amount of time on analytics training whichhelp students clear the elimination test in the first pl place,” says Anand Rao. The result is ays Raoobvious – More than 60% of the students get placed in reputed MNCs. Analytics training the .students receive help them clear elimination tests. Students also feel the training they receivein analytics - which is basically a preparatory training for quantitative aptitude, data analysis, basically aptitudeand analytical reasoning - have indeed helped them to clear competitive exams as well aselimination tests. Prof. Tilkot is very sure about this as he said: “Our products may not be “Ourunique, but we ensure that the process is unique and keep on evolving.”Sector-wise breakup of the recruiters gives testimony for this. Even though the BPO&KPOshire 68% of the total graduates, share of other sectors is also worth mentioning. Private sectorbanks like ICICI and HDFC recruited more number of students in the most recent batches,increasing the number of non BPO recruiters. 8
  9. 9. (See annexure1 for detailed course content and list of recruiters) Travel and logistics Sectoral break up of recruitment 2009-12 recruitment- 2009 2% Higher Education Others Retail Government Internet 3% Tech 2% 1% Service/ Administration Sales/Marketing Service NGO Projects provider 1% 0% 0% 3% Banks 1% 4% Financial Service 15% Education BPO and KPO Institution 68% 0% Basavaraj Pawadi from Uttar Kannada opted not to have a corporate career. But the analytics and competitive examination training given during the course helped him get a job in the postal department. “My life is settled now. I got posted in my home district itself and my parents are really happy...I can attend departmental examinations and get a promotion in the next two years.” Having a central government job at an early age of 22, there is every reason for his parents to be happy with their son. 9
  10. 10. NEED FOR GOING BEYOND THE OBVIOUSWith more organizations entering the skilling space, the point of differentiation will be theability to adapt and respond positively to the ever changing requirements of the job market.The swiftness in adaptability will very much be reflected in the number and quality ofplacements one could make. Thus the need of the hour for any organization is to strive forexcellence in their respective niche by setting higher standards for oneself. A system ofcollecting continuous feedback - both from the recruiters and from the alumni - is somethingwhich will help the organization look into itself. A similar system has the prospects ofhelping the organization get updated about the real requirements in the market as well as thecurrent status of their students. Such a system has the potential to make the relationshipbetween the organization, recruiter. and alumni even stronger. Over time, this initiative hasthe potential to become another profit centre for the organization, since the organization willhave a rich database of human resources having varying levels of experience and this caneven help the organization build its muscles as a strong recruitment facilitator.ALUMNI LINKSGFS has an informal system of getting feedback from alumni, organizing annual eventswhere the alumni are invited to join. It is felt that the organization has yet to put seriousefforts into building a strong alumni network and institutionalizing it. Many of those whopassed last year or earlier never bothered to contact the institute back. Mallikarjun Bhijagmer from Bijapur district, a 2010-11 batch graduate who is presently working in HP as a process associate, is drawing two lakh per annum. He is happy to have got the job and gives full credit for the fine opening hegot to GFS. When asked about possible improvements he said: “We had certain sessions cancelled during our time since trainers didn’t turn up. I don’t remember anything other than that. The quality of classes we received was really good, but I still feel the students will benefit more if Vidya Poshak could conduct more number of interactive sessions with people who are already working in companies.” Satish Jigajinni from Belgaum, currently working with Ageis BPO, feels the training was really useful and shared the same opinion with regards to corporate interaction. Satish is drawing Rs. 1.8 lakh per annum and recently completed 17 months with his first employer. 10
  11. 11. WAY AHEADStarted as an answer to the problem of unemployment among youth, GFS has successfullyhelped more than 1500 students get decent jobs with decent initial pay packages. Theprogram is constantly changing and in tune with the vision of the founders Vidya Poshak isever striving to solve some of the pressing needs of the student communities. As an everevolving model GFS is reinventing itself batch after batch, which it must do so to branch outto more geographies. It is encouraging to see that certain colleges have come forward toaccept the program as an addition to their regular curriculum. This will indeed help reach outto multiples of the numbers it could reach over the years in shorter periods. However, thisputs an extra onus on Vidya Poshak to maintain the quality and intensity of the program.As Anand Rao iterated, “we are continuously striving for improving our systems and keepingourselves relevant and updated.” He seems to be hitting the bull’s eye - the craving forexcellence is probably the only answer for the success of an organization working in thedomain of education.CONCLUSIONThe model that Vidya Poshak has come up with for tackling the problem of the lack ofemployability among rural youth reiterates the larger role that non-formal organizationsworking outside the purview of the university education system can play in finding solutionsfor some of the most critical problems in the sector. Being outside the purview of theuniversity system enables GFS to experiment, invent, and reinvent their course contents anddelivery mechanisms with larger freedom. The entire course had been crafted around a socialbusiness model, having strong elements of financial sustainability along with the statedobjective of making rural youth employable. Vidya Poshak as an organization has exhibitedtraits of a learning organization2 throughout its history of evolution; GFS has its genesis inthis tradition of the organization has exhibited traits of a learning organization3 throughoutits history of evolution; GFS has its genesis in this tradition of the organization. Being a frontrunner in identifying some of the critical needs and solutions for the problem identified in theSandbox region, Vidya Poshak has a more serious role to play by ‘piloting models’ and2 This is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transformsitself. 11
  12. 12. ‘branching out’.ANNEXURE 1:Course Syllabus- Graduate Finishing School: A. Functional English: B. Basic Computer Training: C. Personality Development: 12
  13. 13. D. Analytical Skills: E. Core Competency Enhancement:Annexure 2:A day at Graduate Finishing School: 13
  14. 14. Annexure 3: List of repeated recruiters: ACCENTURE HDFC BANK CMS COMPUTERS MUTHOOT FINCORP I-GATE HINDUJA GLOBAL INDIA INFOLINE E4E TATA CMC MPHASIS TCS E&Y WIPRO FIDELITY JP MORGAN FIRST AMERICAN HEWLETT PACKARD BOSCH IBM VISION NET FIRST SOURCE FIDELITY ICICI BANK INFOSYS TECH MAHINDRA 14

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