The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Want an IT job' Take the Nasscom test

Bangalore, June 8: From November, aspirants to ITES and BPO jobs can take an all-India test that will tell them ' and would-be employers ' how good they are and what sort of work they are best suited for.

Nasscom today announced an online National Assessment of Competence test ' rather like America’s Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) ' that will set the benchmark for the industry, now facing a shortage of talent.

The test will award scores to candidates in seven subjects and can be taken any working day at centres authorised by Reliance or Sify (Satyam Infosystem and Infosys).

“NAC is' aimed at creating a robust and continuous pipeline of talent by transforming trainable workforce into an employable workforce,” Nasscom president Kiran Karnik said.

The test will extend the industry’s reach to smaller cities ' and states like Sikkim that have a pool of English-speaking youth ' while saving money and time on scouting.

Karnik said it’s not just companies that have shown interest but also eight state governments, including Bengal and Sikkim. “Some state governments have offered to fund up to 2,000 candidates and later train freshers.” It would help the states attract investment if they can use NAC scores to show off their talent pool.

The test, expected to cost about $80 (about Rs 3,680), is open to any higher secondary graduate. It will award scores in areas such as written and spoken English, analytical skills, keyboard proficiency, quantitative analysis and logical reasoning.

While those with good scores can expect better jobs, others can train and take another test later. Those already working can take the test in the hope of getting jobs that pay more or are better suited to their skills.

A pilot test has been done with 22 firms sending 6,000 candidates, but the results haven’t been declared yet.

The idea for the test came after a Nasscom-McKinsey report said last year the industry could face a shortage of semi-skilled workers over the next decade. Only about a fourth of technical graduates and 10-15 per cent of general graduates are now employable in offshore IT and BPO industries.

“With more countries entering the off-shore business, India needs to improve the quality of its workforce, and this is what NAC sets out to do,” Nasscom vice-president Sunil Mehta said. “The test is expected to enhance the skill sets freshers would carry to their jobs, reduce training time for companies and probably even the attrition levels.”

Karnik expects at least one lakh young men and women to sit the test in the first year. Nasscom has suggested that candidates be refunded by companies that hire them.

Once NAC starts rolling, coaching centres are expected to come up, too.

Nasscom plans an independent governing council for overseeing NAC as a full-fledged programme.

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