The biggest challenge in vocational sector is mobilizing the students

Amit Bansal is the co-founder and CEO of PurpleLeap, an entry-level talent management company specializing in providing quality ‘ready-to-deploy’ talent to the industry. Amit started his career with Asian Paints, in Sales and Distribution, before joining IT industry with Riverrun, delivering customer solutions on cutting edge technologies. Later, Amit joined Talisma, where he gained expertise in developing and marketing technology products across India, US and Canada as Director, Product Management. In an exclusive interview with India Education Review Amit discusses measures to bridge the skill gap in India and role of private sector in this regard.

Q. A good number of multinational companies are now offering specialized courses as part of the syllabus in many technical institutions, in a bid to step up ready-to-deploy workforce. How do you look at this trend? 

Amit Bansal – The problem of lack of workplace ready professionals is becoming severe by the day. Though the number of engineers passing out of engineering colleges has been increasing every year by a CAGR of over 15 per cent in the last 10 years, the supply of employable talent is not meeting the demand. In a nutshell, putting up more buildings and creating more engineering seats is not helping the cause of ready-to-deploy talent. Hence, there is a need for specialized programs that prepare the students for their first job.

Last year, from a total of 15 lacs engineering seats, more than 5 lacs went vacant. Institutes that fail to produce talent that can be absorbed by the industry will start shutting down.

Institutes that are serious about providing technical education are already taking steps to mitigate this challenge. In the short to medium term, the solution is to invest in such specialized programs in colleges. In the medium to long term, institutes will invest in upgrading the quality of technical education in collaboration with industry oriented initiatives to transform the way technical education is being imparted in colleges.

Q. For long time you have been part of the IT industry, what been the changes the sector has witnessed since you joined? 

Amit Bansal – The IT industry in India has undergone a major transformation over the last couple of decades. In the nineties, the processes were still very nascent. It took lot of time to create replicable processes and practices that could bring predictability in quality and timely delivery. In this period, the industry witnessed lot of innovation through best practices to deliver projects in a hybrid onsite and offshore delivery. The industry also matured to create specialized practices across different verticals and technology areas. However, the main advantage of the Indian IT industry was still the Dollar Rupee arbitrage. One could get the same work done in India at a fraction of the cost of the western world.

In the past few years, the Indian IT industry is witnessing competition from other nations that have the same cost advantage. This is putting enormous pressure on companies to rationalize their cost structures to remain competitive. One of the large components of this cost is the bench and the unproductive time it takes to get the fresher up to speed.  More and more organizations are looking at ways to bring down the average unproductive time from 8-9 months to a reasonable 3-4 months.

The other significant shift is the investment in R&D. The Indian IT industry is increasingly spending more to build competence across technology areas that help them compete with the best in the world.

Q. How you look at the vocational education and skill development sector to bridge the skill gap in India? 

Amit Bansal – The biggest challenge in vocational sector is mobilizing the students. Since most of the vocational programs are meant for bottom of the pyramid, the investment capacity of the student is quite limited. Hence, the business models need to look at a fresh approach rather than the traditional approach of a student coming to a classroom/center for training. The role of government as well as industry is extremely important. While the industry needs to recognize and mandate sector specific certifications, the government needs to create more of sector specific skill-development councils that mobilize the talent and the industry alike. Lot of good initiatives are in place and we will see the efforts bearing results in this decade.

Q. Is PurpleLeap part of IndiaCan or are both serving different sectors? 

Amit Bansal – IndiaCan owns a majority stake in PurpleLeap. From a business stand-point, the two companies are addressing different segments. While IndiaCan is focused more on the vocational training, PurpleLeap works with the graduate and post-graduate colleges to create industry-ready talent.

Q. What have been major achievements of PurpleLeap in past five years? 

Amit Bansal – PurpleLeap is currently the first company in the country that is operating over 250 classrooms and can track the performance of each and every student on a real-time basis. We are now training over 30,000 students in a year. Our student base is growing by a factor of three times every year consistently for the last three years. We are serving the entry level talent requirement for over 100 organizations. Our biggest achievement is that we are able to deliver consistent learning experience to all these students through a mix of technology and processes, given the backing of globally recognized players like Educomp and Pearson.

Q. What role private sector can play in improvement of the vocational education and skill development sector in India? 

Amit Bansal – Private sector needs to recognize the certified talent available in the market. If you look at the current situation, there is very limited “direct-benefit” that a student sees in making the investment in training and certification. The student needs an assurance that if s/he is trained and certified, the industry is going to absorb them. Otherwise, for the student the certificate is just another piece of paper! The current recruitment practices in the industry hardly provide any “visible-benefit” to the candidate. Of course, if the student is well trained, s/he will perform well in the interview and get a job. But, normally students do not have the maturity to see that and are looking at “direct-benefit” that is apparent and assured.

The industry needs to come together and create a commonly acceptable certification framework that they will use to recruit fresh talent. They need to incentivize candidates who get recruited through this certification route. This will ensure that enough students are motivated to invest in such skilling and certification programs and will lead to a healthy supply of certified talent for the industry.

Q. What are your future plans? 

Amit Bansal – We will consolidate our leadership position in conducting skill development programs in engineering and management colleges. We are on our way to reach the 100,000 students mark over the next 12 months.

In addition to the existing programs, we will work closely with our partner colleges to help them adopt technology and best pedagogical practices that help them produce quality talent.



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