Javed Habib knew very well what he wanted to do after Plus Two. A mediocre student all his school life, Habib knew that a mere graduate degree would hardly fetch him a decent job. Moreover, he had the added responsibility of supporting his family financially. Without any ado, Habib opted for a three-month certificate course in networking from the Calcutta centre of Indiacan, a joint venture between Educomp, India’s largest education company, and Pearson, the largest education service provider in the world.
Soon after completing the course, Habib was flooded with job offers and joined Calcutta-based information technology services firm Peacon. Says Habib, “I was absolutely thrilled to land a job at a big IT firm. What is heartening is that I have started working while my school friends are completing their graduation. On hindsight, I think I made the right choice. While a graduate degree always comes in handy, a vocational degree gives you a head start in life.”
Like Habib, vocational skills also came to the rescue of Pranjal Borah. He had completed Class X from Assam but couldn’t study further because his parents couldn’t support him financially. Engaged in menial jobs, Borah had given up hope of landing a decent job when he came across an advertisement promising to empower the jobless with vocational skills. He enrolled for a three-month certificate course in hospitality management at the Assam centre of BASIX Academy for Building Lifelong Employability (B-able), a vocational training organisation based in New Delhi. Soon after, he landed a job as a steward with Speciality Restaurants Ltd, Mumbai, which runs Mainland China, Oh! Calcutta and Fame and Grill outlets, among others.
“Never in my wildest dream did I think I would get to work and live in Mumbai. Had I not enrolled for vocational education, I would still have been engaged in odd jobs in my home state,” remarks Borah.
Habib and Borah are among thousands of young people in the country who have benefited from the job-oriented courses offered by vocational training organisations such as Indiacan, B-able, Indiaskills, Centum Learning and IIJT-Teamlease. Giving shape to their dreams is the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), which has partnered with skill development institutes to empower four lakh youths by 2013.
NSDC has so far rolled out 346 job-oriented courses in 365 districts in 30 states and Union territories through 3,230 training facilities. “Till March 2012, NSDC partner institutes have trained 1.81 lakh students in diverse trades. Significantly, 79 per cent of those trained or 1.44 lakh students have been placed in jobs or been gainfully employed,” says Dilip Chenoy, CEO and managing director, NSDC.
John Yates, CEO of Indiaskills, a joint venture between the Manipal Group, the Karnataka-based education services provider, and City and Guilds, UK’s largest provider of work-related assessments and vocational qualifications, underlines a point. “Lack of job skills is the biggest drawback faced by students in India. Vocational education wasn’t given much importance earlier. But this outlook is changing gradually. Students are now increasingly taking up job-oriented courses and topping up their academic qualifications as and when required.”
Indiaskills has developed courses for 12 sectors, namely retail, hospitality, construction, security, hair and beauty, agriculture, engineering, English language training, supply chain management, textiles and auto. “Plus Two students in particular can opt for a diploma in financial advisory and marketing services, a certificate in computer aided accounting, a diploma in banking operations and services and a certificate in front office operations,” adds Yates.
Similarly, Centum Learning, an NSDC partner institute, too has lined up some courses for those who have just completed Plus Two. These include certificate courses in spoken English, BBA — business applications, BCom (sales and customer service), and the Max Bupa Tele Sales counsellor course. Sanjeev Duggal, CEO and director, Centum Learning, says all these courses offer value for money and are priced very affordably.
The duration depends upon the nature of the course. For example, the certificate course in spoken English comprises four levels, each level being of 96 hours; the BBA course is of three-year duration while the Max Bupa Tele Sales Counselor course is of five days. “For students, the biggest benefit from all these programmes is learning from real work situations, which can never be achieved by reading books alone,” adds Duggal.
The institute has joined hands with Bharti Walmart to offer programmes in customer service and retail. It has also entered into a collaboration with a leading international quick service restaurant chain to source and train candidates who are then directly absorbed by the client itself.
Likewise, Indiaskills has tied-up with ICICI, Reliance, Shoppers Stop, Domino’s, Ambuja Cements and others for practical training for its students. “What’s unique about our courses is that all of them can be covered over three to six months and the fee structure varies from Rs 10,000 to Rs 26,000. The fee structure has been designed to match approximately one to two months’ salary of the job for which they have been trained,” says Yates.
Indiacan too has drawn up a slew of courses to make students job ready. “Those who have completed Plus Two can do a one-year diploma in e-accounting and taxation, three-year degree programme in corporate accounting and financial management, one-year diploma or a three-year degree programme in hardware and networking. All the programmes are integrated with internships,” says Sanjib Das, regional manager (East), Indiacan.
Subhankar Bhattacharya, divisional head, IIJT Education, Calcutta, makes a strong pitch for vocational education. “Students, who randomly follow the trend of doing a management course after Class XII and thereby spend lakhs of rupees which eventually earn them low salary jobs can definitely look forward to taking up short-term, cost-effective courses. For students who have passed Plus Two, we recommend information technology courses such as CompTIA, MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional), RHCSA (Redhat Certified System Administrator) and CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate). We also offer two courses for those from the commerce stream — CBA (complete business accountant) and IBA (integrated business accountant),” he says.
Similarly, i-star, a vocational training institute, offers a broad range of programmes for those who have passed Plus Two. These programmes, called iSTEP, are offered through partnerships with governments and non-governmental organisations to provide job opportunities in the IT services, BPO and retail industries.
But not all the courses are limited to those who have passed Plus Two. Several courses are offered by vocational institutes for those who have passed Class VIII or Class X. In some cases, the eligibility is as low as Class V. For example, Everonn, another vocational training institute, offers certificate courses in housekeeping operations, front desk operations, bakery and confectionery and commercial cookery for those who have passed Class VIII.
The fee for most of these courses ranges between Rs 6,750 and Rs 22,000. The starting salary is between Rs 6,000 and Rs 9,000.
B-able has drawn up around 40 courses for students who have Class V education in retail, hospitality, tourism and travel, automobile, construction, farm and non-farm sectors. For Plus Two students, it offers courses in retail and hospitality. The fees for most of these range between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000 a month. On successful completion of these courses, students are placed in jobs that pay between Rs 7,000 and Rs 12,000 a month.
What draws most students to vocational education is the return on their investment. The salary that a student earns after completing a course is either the same as the money spent on vocational education or more. Agrees Habib. “I spent around Rs 9,000 on my course and now earn Rs 10,000 as salary. I now want to do more courses in networking and improve my prospects.”
Way to go!