Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Updated: Jan 9 2012, 05:34am hrs
It is a dilemma in the $70 billion Indian IT industry. Should the company hiring an engineering graduate spend a significant amount on IT training or should the technology institutes be more conscious about making their students employable. But today, both the sides seems to be looking at collaborative measures to solve this problem. Whether it be training students right from their 4th semester in college or the big tech majors hiring third party training institutes to go and catch trained students for themthe endeavour is to make them competent and readily employable in the marketplace.

There are also big league tech companies like IBM and Microsoft, which train students from tier II and tier III colleges. It is not necessary that the student will be hired by IBM; the company certification will definitely help the student in the long run. Himanshu Goyal, country manager, IBM Career Education, says, We are concentrating on training students specifically in the tier III and tier IV colleges. Though we train students on the IBM technology, this helps them get jobs in other mid-sized IT companies. Recently, a student from an engineering college in Dewangiri got a job in Mindtree.

Also, two students from Jaipur got a job in Symphony Services after training through IBM.

Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president at IT industry forum Nasscom gives a broad industry perspective: Though the employability rate in the IT industry was 25% as per our study in 2005, we believe that the situation is better now because of initiatives by tech companies like IBM and Microsoft who have started their own certification programmes. Even the Indian tech companies are now tying up with colleges to train the students during the course tenure. We also see a plethora of third party training firms like Talentsprint, QAI, NIIT, among others, that are helping in makings these engineering students employable.

At present, the average salary of an engineer from a tier III- IV college would range anywhere between R2.5-3.5 lakh. However, the average salary of an engineering graduate from Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) would be northwards of R7.5 lakh. Most of the training is needed only in the smaller towns as newer engineering colleges are opened in these low-cost locations. As per Purpleleap, an Educomp and Pearson joint venture, though the number of engineering colleges in our country have doubled in the last four years, the percentage of tier I colleges has halved. This means more engineers, but not the best trained.

Amitabh Lahiri, head ILS-IT, Career Building Solutions, NIIT, says, We have tied up with more than 3,000 colleges and most of them are tier II downwards. We train students on skills like Java and other soft skills as well. Our placement rate ranges between 60-70%. Both tech companies as well as colleges are keen to collaborate with us for training the students. We also get in touch with colleges ourselves and educate them on training the students. Though Lahiri did not mention the names of companies that approach NIIT to get hold of trained engineering graduates, he ensured that the list includes significant industry leaders.

In an earlier interaction, Himanshu Goyal had remarked, The IT industry faces a challenge in training employees on righteous skills like software testing. We are helping students getting trained on such skills in collaboration with QAI, a consulting and workforce development organisation. And if we have a requirement for such talent, IBM would definitely consider these trained students for a job with IBM.

QAI trains students from different colleges like Punjab Technical University, Apeejay College of Engineering and Noida Institute of Engineering on skills like testing and helps them get a job as and when demanded by tech majors. QAI has trained 4,000 engineers overall on software testing till now. At present, the country produces only 3,000 testers, but the nation will soon need 25,000-30,000 testers each year.

Even IBMs Academic Initiative worldwide is to partner with colleges and universities in India to better educate millions of students for a more skilled and competitive IT workforce. Professional certifications have become even more important as companies prefer to hire people who need little or no on-job training. A professional IBM certification in open standards technologies can make the difference between getting hired and being left out, which is what this programme offers.

An IT industry expert explains the dynamics behind this: It is always an additional advantage for a company like IBM to train students on their technologies as it will help them in the long run. Such students would be trained to work on IBM hardware and this would be their specialisation.

IBM has established centres of excellence of various technologies to enable the colleges have hands on environment with latest IBM technology trends with updated resources. A centre of excellence (CoE) is a physical space in a college which acts as the central ground for trainings and certifications from IBM. The CoE is an exclusive offer

to colleges with the potential to create numerous certified professionals. So far, the 154 IBM CoEs established in over 20 states have helped train 90,000 students and certifying another 45,000 in various IBM technologies.

As companies and colleges continue to work hand in hand, it

remains to be seen who will take the lead in writing the next chapter for IT industry success in India!