• IPC 2017

From Schools to Skills

By GovernanceToday
In Interview
February 20, 2017

ashok-mehtaEducomp Solutions, one of the forerunners and the largest player in the organised education services has its presence across the entire education lifecycle, be it digital content, ICT, pre-school, K12, school chains, teacher professional development, higher education, or online and other supplemental education services and solutions. A market leader in each of these areas, Educomp, now sees yet another metamorphosis with its new vision and step forward in skilling India, by challenging and augmenting all knowledge delivery mechanisms.

Ashok Mehta,President & Business Head (ICT & Skill Development), Educomp Solutions Ltd, discusses this  new business vertical with a social bent of mind as the future growth driver.

How has Educomp been contributing to the Education & Training sectors?

 Founded in 1994, Educomp is India’s largest education company with its presence in the entire eco system of education. From School to Skills, Educomp  has over the years reached out to 30 Million learner and educators and 65000 schools.  Educomp works with India’s largest K12 digital content library with over 20000 rich 3D multimedia  content that reaches out to over 6 million students . We also run over 350 pre-schools, 45 Brick and Mortar K12 schools, 63  Test Prep Centers, and  over 70 Vocational training centres  and over 5.5 million users of our online learning properties.

Educomp smartclass is our teacher-led educational content solution that dramatically improves learning outcomes in Private Schools. The smartclass Class Transformation System and the smartclass Digital Teaching System are the biggest and most innovative initiatives in the space of digital classroom content and digital classroom hardware respectively. For government schools EduReach has partnered with 14 state governments, implementing large scale public-private partnership projects, taking IT education and IT enabled learning to the remotest of schools across the nation. As part of this program, the Company sets up Computer Labs in Government Schools, provides Multimedia Content in regional language, testing and certification in computer education, full time assistants as well as teacher training, monitoring and supervision.

Educomp serves in kindergarten space through Little Millennium, most sought after chains of pre-schools. Our chains of Schools under the brands of The Millennium Schools, Takshila Schools and Universal Academy Schools straddle across top tier cities, middle tier cities and semiurban areas respectively. We also have our International Schools and have a portfolio of iconic brands for co-branded schools. Our JRE Group of Institutions deliver AICTE approved postgraduate and undergraduate programs in Management and Engineering.

Tell us about the skill side of Educomp’s journey.

Back in 2009, Educomp has set up its vocational entity called Educomp Vocational Education Private Limited. Subsequently this got rechristened as IndiaCan, with 50% investment from  Pearson group. The business spanned for four years, till 2013, when Educomp, as a strategic move recreated the vocational institutions within Educomp Group when we made an exit from the JV.

We re-entered the vocational space in 2014, only to take it ahead  through affiliations  with various agencies such as  NSDC, NSDA, FICCI and over 10 Sector Skill Councils,  for successful implementation of  flagship government projects like Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD)’s Aajeevika program, which is now known  DDU-GKY (Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana).

Educomp has been spearheading  a number of  training programs under various government schemes. We have been associated with two states, Odisha and Telengana for DDUGKY and hope to add more and more states as we move forward. Besides, we are also tied up with a number of state agencies, like Rajasthan Skill and Livelihoods Development Corporation (RSLDC) in Rajasthan, Bihar Urban Development Authority, MEPMA in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.

Initially we thought of taking up training programs only, as that is what we have been doing  ever since. We have trained 3 crore people on the usages of computers in last 16-17 years. However, our strength lies in implementing  large scale training programs and driving the training with a speed, and  effectiveness at  and great efficacy level. These elements are the most desirable ones in most schemes. Our strength also lies in managing and mobilizing a number of trainers in any part of the country and then driving the training At some point in time We have had a pool of trainers to the extent of 10000.

Looking at all these strengths, we decided to come out of our confinement with computer trainings only and went ahead in collaborating with different Sector Skill Councils, including Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council,  for implementation of  PMKVY and other government initiatives.

During 2016-17, we are eyeing to run 19 courses in 10 Sector Skill Councils including Domestic Sector Skill Council. Considering the plethora of government schemes and government interest, we are hoping that we will do some progress in terms of numbers. Currently we are ready with 70 training centres located at different parts of the country. In addition, we are also trying to create some of our own flagship centres. Hopefully, by 2017-18, we will be ready with our own multiskilling  centres for located strategically in the country

Will these Educomp owned  enterprises be aligned with the  vision of Skill Universities?

In certain ways yes as the training being conducted by Educomp team is using the curriculum mapped to Nation Skill Qualification Framework [NSQF] and there I can say that the capacities being created will stay aligned with idea of skill Universitiy. But we have to go a long way and at this stage I can only hope that the way the momemntum of Skill India is, we all have to carve out programmes that meet both short term and long term objectives. Both Industry and academia have to come closer to mitigate the existing gaps. At Educomp we have taken up skilling part of the projects aimed at enabling employability  for those at bottom of pyramid. As we go forward we m Training programs currently being implemented under PMKVY and other schemes  are required for better value addition in lives of learners. For example, there should be more branding, more respect for the course and better recognition to the trainings by the government. There should be clear mandate on the trainings. Automatically, quality training will become a mandate and will then be translated to better behavior in the workplace, equipped with better soft skills in the employees.

You have set a target of training one lakh people in next one year. What are your plans and preparations to meet this mark?

Educomp has aligned its skill programs with the Skill India initiatives of Government of India. Creating capacity all across the country will not be a big challenge for Educomp. We are operational through our own training businesses and technology deployments in schools in almost 600 districts in the country. We have some 70 Training  Centres s, each with a capacity of more than 5000 sq ft space ehich translates into a capacity of running 3-4 courses simultaneously from  from  same  location. We have the advantages of scale l and the speed. With such strength, we are being moderate in projecting our target of skilling 1 lakh people by next year, through programs like PMKVY and DDU-GKY.

“We at Educomp have been constantly skilling people on the use of technology  particularly in the area of IT/ ITeS. Now, along with various Sector Skill  Councils, we have taken up the mission to train and empower people across various  sectors including Retail, Automotive, BFSI, constructions, Life science, hospitality, security and domestic worker sectors. We are poised to  relentlessly train 100000 people in next  1 year across these sectors. The training will be conducted pan India as we move forward.”

We at Educomp are passionate and are aware of the circumstantial changes and challenges that keep coming up. So we will go systematically to deliver what we are saying. We aim to set up 100 centres before 31st March 2017 and  which will have capacity to train 1,20,000 people.

What prompted for the shift in focus towards skilling unorganized sector?

With our honourable Prime Minister ‘s clarion call of Skill India , subsequently formation of Ministery of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and  reformation of PMKVY scheme for more effective implementation and higher visbility, we at Educomp  are really excited about implementing the programme successfully.  All we need is the mandate from the govt to continuously carry out the training through our centres and contribute to Skill India initiative in the best possible way by Educomp. Having said that, Government has created such kind of motivation and conducive environment in the current time, for companies to look towards it. It is not merely a social responsibility, but also making a business sense if someone genuinely wants to implement the programme .. I would personally vouch for taking up such challenges, as it offers the motivation to do the numbers and to do the project with credible outcome. Socially you are contributing to the society, economically contributing to building skilled work force and commercially you are still adding to your bottomline of business. So its win win game for all stake holders.  The youth of the contry is gaining out of the scheme. The Rural urban divide will gradually mitigate with skill India getting successful. The ecosystem is getting better and better, as the time passes, and that is where the whole excitement comes.

There is a sense of fulfillment when we talk about our computer  trainings in remotely located Tripura, Assam, in tribal locations of Chhattisgarh where lakhs of children of remotely located areas have been given first time exposure to computers and there are numerous success stories of these children doing so well with the computer. We have trained 20000 people on use of computers, through the tribal hostels set up by the government of Chhattisgarh.  We have trained more than 6 lakh students in the age group of 14-18 years in Uttar Pradesh. We  have trained more than 0ne lakh students in Bihar. We have worked in 17 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat; trained 17.6 million students who go to government schools and represent the underprivileged segment in most cases. So, it is all about joining the ecosystem, being part of it, and then driving it.

What are the domains and skill sectors Educomp looks at this point?

We at Educomp have been constantly skilling people on the use of technology particularly in the area of IT/ ITeS. Now, along with various Sector Skill Councils, we have taken up the mission to train and empower people across various sectors including Retail, Automotive, BFSI, constructions, Life science, hospitality, security and domestic worker sectors. We are poised to relentlessly train 100000 people in next 1 year  across these sectors. The training will be conducted pan India as we move forward.

Do the industries need to be incentivized further?

interview3In my view more than incentivizing the undustry,  the eco system need to be maintaioned.   NSDC It needs to make the process robust so as to cut down on process time for transferring funds into the account of a TP who invests in training . There is already and huge gap and demand and supply hence the demand side of people and supply side of TP’s and skilled youth need a common platform to come to. In that context yes.  Lot more needs to be done and for which SSC’s can have an important role. Not that it’s not in their vision but lot more needs to be done to assure employability of trainees.  Besides However, there are some loose ends which we can still highlight in the larger interest of the beneficiaries in the unorganized sector. For example, in domestic sector, ensuring about employment seems not practical.  In construction sector ,We have done training for 6 batches  in Odisha. There is no single candidate who is unemployed today. But, 60 to 70 of those trainees joined and then moved out of the organization due to wage issues. During DDU-GKY trainings it was revealed that these candidates can actually earn handsome on their own, and the amount would be much more than the salary they would get. So there should be some other yardsticks which may be fixed  to asses employability for certain training domains or job roles  as mentioned earlier. There are some skills sectors where providing employment to the person will remain a challenge. Alternative plans may be worked out, may be by giving an employment certificate or a defined funds flow  to the person’s account for certain period.

What are the expectations from the government?

In my view once Training Partners are identified, they should be given mandate for next 3 years or so and hence one can create a whole business plan. Sporadic number allocation leads to quationing viability of the training programme. The TP’s could be assessd for all the pre-requistes and subsequently a nadate be given for a 3 year period. Of course one can put parameters and milestones for review and chuck out those non performers.  In other words Training targets should not be linked to monthly or quarterly rotation arrangements, as this brings a lot of uncertainty for the training partners.  Last year training partners were asked to set up some Kaushal Kendras. Any business organization would be keen to set up Kaushal Kendras and do the trainings, provided, there are assurance of long term continuity, with designated milestones to cover. From Educomp side, I can say that we are absolutely poised to and committed to take up these tasks, but a greater confidence needs to be inculcated in the whole ecosystem.

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