Not just Snowden, many foreigners line up for IT crash courses in India

Written by Mihir Mishra | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 23 2013, 20:08pm hrs
Edward SnowdenEdward Snowden reportedly zeroed in on Delhi-based Koenig Solutions for his seven-day super fast-track module in September 2010. (PTI)
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowdens decision to come down all the way to Delhi three years ago for a fast-track Certified Ethical Hacker module and a crash course in Core Java was by no means an isolated event. While IT training set the stage in the early days of Indias IT revolution, the IT Offshore Training business is a new growth area where India is claiming a clear lead over rivals, drawing in clients from the US, Europe and Africa for highly focused IT modules that are delivered in double quick time, with a distinct cost advantage to boot.

Being marketed to overseas students under the education tourism banner, quite on the lines of medical tourism, Indias IT offshoring business is being pegged at upwards of Rs 1,000 crore, according to industry valuations.

Snowden reportedly zeroed in on Delhi-based Koenig Solutions for his seven-day super fast-track module in early September 2010 based on some favourable referrals. Koenig, which hosted Snowden at its main training centre in non-descript Moti Nagar in West Delhi, claims to be one of the biggest offshore IT training provider in the world and is unambiguous in its assertion that the Snowden link has certainly helped it get some extra mileage.

According to Rohit Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Koenig, the majority of the students coming in from places such as Europe or the US for certified IT packages are lured in not just by the cost advantage of doing the courses in India, airfare and accommodation overheads notwithstanding, but the quality of these certification courses offered by Indian firms. Offshore IT training is catching up particularly among companies, IT employees and students in countries of Europe, Africa, West Asia, South East Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, given the lack of cost optimised quality training resources and infrastructure facilities in some of these countries.

Aggarwal specifically attributes the advantage that Koenig has over competition, including global peers, to its 300-odd pool of trainers. The certification courses include those of Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, VMware, Novell, Adobe, EMC, Citrix and Linux and the company, which has opened centres in Bangalore, Goa, Shimla, Dehradun and a new offsite in Dubai, says it trains more than 5,000 foreign students annually in its centres in India and Dubai, along with about 2,000 Indian students per year.

There are others, including Delhi-based Knowledge Buffers Pvt Ltd, which claims to be focused on core IT certification courses Microsoft, Cisco, Redhat, VM Ware, CompTIA and inclusive IT boot camps along with exclusive travel packages for foreign students.

Ahmedabad-based Excel PTP, yet another offshore IT firm that is a division of Amar Techno labs Pvt. Ltd, has been around for about five years and deals with PHP open sources and Frameworks Corporate international Training in India. On the broader trend, Nasscom president Som Mittal said: India has always been ahead in Information Technology. Going ahead, I see the IT training industry moving ahead to provide specialised training. It has already started happening and it will continue to grow further.

Sid Pai, partner and president, ISG Asia Pacific, said: The (IT outsourcing) business is big in India and primarily people come here from abroad because of the capability the country offers in IT. India currently commands over 50 per cent of the IT training market and will continue to increase. Countries like Brazil, the Philippines and China are coming up, but India continues to be the leader.

The IT training and certification today is a $20 billion industry worldwide and the education tourism market in India alone could become $ 1 billion by 2020. Our education tourism business model is unique and aims to tap this growing market, Koenigs Aggrawal said.