Samik Gupta is ecstatic. He
found his calling thanks
to an industry-academia
ICICI Bank and Praxis
Business School (PBS),
Calcutta. “I would never have realised
my true calling had I not worked in the
financial intelligence division of the
bank in Mumbai,” says the second-year
MBA student of PBS.
If Gupta’s stint at India’s largest private bank worked wonders for him, Mihir Nadkarni’s internship at the finance arm of a construction major helped him realise his knack for marketing financial products. “I had earlier worked in finance but earned my spurs in marketing while working with L&T Finance as part of an arrangement my institute had with the company,” says the second-year MBA student of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai.
Gupta and Nadkarni are among hundreds of students who are reaping the benefits of academia-industry collaborations that help institutes match students’ skill with their desired field of work. “This kind of partnership works to the advantage of students, industry and institute. The students benefit from practical experience which helps them integrate classroom knowledge with practical work, the company gains from a reduction in the training cost of inductees, while the institute benefits from aligning its curriculum to the needs of industry,” observes Parimal V. Mandke, registrar and dean, NIIT University, Neemrana, Rajasthan.
As part of the academia-industry initiative, NIIT University has tied up with ICICI Bank to offer a two-year MBA in finance and banking and with ESRI California and ESRI India for an MTech in geographic information system (GIS).
One of the advantages of pursuing these programmes is the job assurance that comes with them. Also, the heavy practical component of these programmes ensures that students spend half the time on the job instead of all their time in class. “A student who completes the MBA programme will be absorbed by ICICI Bank in a managerial position at a starting salary of Rs 15 lakh per annum. Similarly, the MTech programme prepares students for positions as project managers or business development managers at a starting salary of between Rs 4.5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh per annum,” adds Mandke.
Charanpreet Singh, associate dean, PBS, says such close linkages help students attune their skills to the needs of industry. “It helps students to understand how the knowledge and skills they acquire in class are applied in real life. An intense interaction with a company allows students to understand the skills they need to acquire to build successful careers. If the curriculum is designed in collaboration with industry, students enter the corporate arena much better equipped than their competitors from institutes that are impervious to industry needs and influences,” he points out.
PBS offers a one-year programme in business analytics with PricewaterhouseCoopers and ICICI Bank. “Practitioners from industry have co-designed the entire curriculum. ICICI Bank has also endowed the dean’s chair at Praxis. The partnership involves research in finance by Praxis faculty members and design and delivery of courses by ICICI Bank practitioners,” adds Singh.
|IN GOOD COMPANY
The academia-industry interface offers another spin-off — the creation of intellectual capital through research and collaboration. “Academic institutions aid industry by conducting case studies, research and consulting projects that not only leads to knowledge creation but also development of industry-relevant courses and management development programmes. Also, institutions use the research and consulting projects to publish academic papers and build their credibility,” says Deepak Chandra, deputy dean, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
According to Saugat Mukherjee, regional director (east), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), apart from addressing employability issues and reducing training costs, such tie-ups also help in bridging the demand-supply gap by creating a talent pool for companies. “We have been partnering with management and technical institutions and encouraging them to join hands with industry to train faculty members and students,” he says.
According to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), out of approximately 3.5 lakh engineers and 2.5 lakh graduates who pass out each year, around 5 lakh remain unemployed because they are unskilled. H. S. Ballal, former chairman of Ficci’s higher education committee and pro chancellor, Manipal University (MU), Manipal, Karnataka, cites a McKinsey Global Institute survey which reveals that multinational companies find only 25 per cent of Indian engineers employable. “An academia-industry linkage can change the equation considerably. This is the reason some companies like Infosys ask freshers to undergo a training programme to make them job ready,” says Ballal.
Debashish Sengupta, professor and chair, organisational leadership and strategy area, Alliance Business School, Alliance University, Bangalore, feels low employability is the primary reason for the demand-supply gap. “Bridging this skill gap is only possible when academia and industry come closer, form productive partnerships and ensure that proactive measures are taken to overcome the problem. For example, IBM has launched ‘Drona’, a training programme aimed at empowering faculty members with technical knowhow,” he says.
Academicians point out that it is not just students who benefit from such tie- ups. Faculty members too gain practical knowledge from such exposure. “For example, the ‘Sangam’ project with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) provides an opportunity for the teaching community to visit the company's facilities to receive training in the latest technologies. TCS also conducts workshops at the institute from time to time,” adds the MU pro chancellor.
Besides, the tie-up helps institutes during placement by virtue of their association with companies. “Such partnerships give companies a feeling that they are contributing to the student’s development and institutes get an edge over others in terms of maintaining relations beyond placements, ” observes Debashis Sanyal, dean, NMIMS.
But E. Balaji, managing director and chief executive officer of Randstand India, the human resources firm, argues that industry-academia tie-ups should go beyond leveraging the partnership for financial resources or guest lectures. “The partnerships should happen on a large scale for real benefits to occur. If only the top companies collaborate with the top universities, the benefits will not trickle down to the small-scale industry. The partnership should expand to industry consortiums and include other stakeholders like government bodies as well,” he observes.