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Say pizza, they’ll lip-read

- XLRI to link deaf-mute youths to trendy fast food jobs

It doesn’t take sharp ears to pack a zinger burger or a chicken bucket or a cheesy pizza. The person manning the takeaway counter can well read the customer’s lips.

XLRI students are convinced that the 135 hearing impaired students at Carmel Bal Vihar in Jamshedpur, including 34 girls, can be trained to man takeaway counters of leading food chains such as KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and the like in metros.

The 15 students of XLRI’s six-month postgraduate programme in entrepreneurship management, who interacted with hearing impaired Bal Vihar students on Monday afternoon as part of Joy of Giving Week, told the principal of the special school that they would help the youths bag jobs with trendy fast food chains in metros.

XLRI student Nicholas Pius said it was no sweat for deaf-mute youths to work at KFC, for instance.

“They are educated through the NIOS pattern and are trained to lip-read. Plus, they have strong will power, discipline and a sense of team spirit. These are uncommon USPs. With a little computer skills and exposure, they can present a great face to customers at leading hospitality outlets,” he said.

Nicholas, who said they were already exploring job linkages for Bal Vihar students in Calcutta for KFC, added that the globally loved chicken fast food franchisee employed hearing impaired candidates at its Calcutta and Chennai outlets.

“We will pay regular visits to the special school to fine-tune their English writing ability and groom their personality so that new-age and trendy jobs in the hospitality sector come their way. We have already started talks with KFC officials and hope to have the first round of placements within six months at KFC outlets in Calcutta’s South City Mall on Prince Anwar Shah Road and City Center II in Rajarhat,” said Nicholas.

He added that talks were on with KFC outlets in Chennai and with McDonalds, Pizza Hut and hotels in metros.

So far, Carmel Bal Vihar set up in 1979, conducts compulsory vocational training skills in computers, tailoring and stitching as well as short-term optional vocational training courses in photography, painting and printing.

But yes, placements at a KFC or a McDonalds will definitely add spice to their lives and to their campus.

Special school principal Sister Geetha was upbeat over the prospects of her students getting jobs in the hospitality sector. “Some of my students are already working in Hotel Sonnet at Bistupur, the Bistupur post office and other city institutions. XLRI students are helping both teachers and students of Bal Vihar dream big and pursue them outside the city,” added Sister Geetha.

“What many people don’t know that is hearing impaired candidates are recruited in large numbers at not only KFC as part of their corporate social responsibility model but also at Titan, IBM, MphasiS, Café Coffee Day and the Taj Group of Hotels,” said Nicholas.

It seems India Inc. does have a heart that’s beating in the right place.