Skill-based higher education programs are slowly but steadily gaining popularity in India. Though in a nascent stage, TeamLease Skills University (TLSU) being the first institution of its kind, has pioneered many work-integrated learning programs with the sole focus of ensuring a job for the successful students. We caught up with Neeti Sharma, Senior Vice President, TeamLease Services Limited to know more about the courses offered by the university and how they are creating an aspirational value for vocational subjects and professional degrees. Let’s get to know more through this Skill Story…
Q: Please share the background for conceptualising the Skills University and how work integrated learning has been incorporated in the courses.
A: Six decades of Indian higher system has limited its focus on the formal sector that constitutes a meagre 8 – 9% of the labour force. The rest of 92% in informal sector is outside the ambit of the universities. The informal sector lives in graded levels of economic disadvantage – all in spite of increase in GDP. Serious economic, regional, social, and gender disparities in education, health and income levels are indicators of low human development.
Mass liberal education with increased enrolment in professional education has not addressed the problems of unemployment and unemployability of the graduates. The university system has a requirement to realign its policies, processes and educational services to facilitate holistic societal development and harmony. Hence, there is need for a Skills University that focusses only on skill-based education.
Q: It’s interesting to see courses like BBO for working professionals and other on-campus courses. What are all the courses you offer at Bachelors level and which ones are most popular?
A: We provide degree programs in areas of Hospitality, Mechatronics, IT Infrastructure , Business Operations and Finance. List of programs offered are :
- B.Sc Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM)
- B.Sc. Hotel Management (Work based learning)
- B.Com Finance & Business Operations (FBO)
- BBA Bachelors of Business Administration
- BCA Bachelors of Computer Application
- B.Sc. IT Infrastructure Management Services (IT-MIS)
- B.Sc. Mechatronics
- DMLT Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology
Most popular programs are FBO, BSc. HTM ,DMLT and BSc Mechatronics
For each of the courses, TLSU provides exit at one year, two year, and three years leading to Diploma, Advance Diploma and Degree certification. One complete semester is dedicated to on-the-job-training ( OJT ) for all our students, where the students gets industry exposure to understand the present work scenario of the relevant industry. The students get an opportunity to practice what they have learnt during his academic semesters.
Q: Do students come looking for admissions in the courses, how do you reach out or use other promotional means to get them enrolled?
A: The University is fairly new (4 years old), with a new concept of Vocational Skills Degree and is housed inside an ITI campus. All of these do make it difficult for us to explain the concept of Skills university to both students and parents. TLSU is different from most aspects as compared to conventional universities and we would not have it any other way. So we did have to spend a lot of time in talking about the concept , skill sets and employment opportunities. Now, after few batches of students having passed out and secured very good placements, we do see students coming to the campus for admissions. However, we need to continue concept selling and convincing students to enrol.
At TeamLease and at TeamLease Skills University we pray to one God and that is JOBS . Hence, apprenticeships and placements are an integral part of our learning. All our students get opportunities to be employed post completion of the degree and the batches passed out have all got placed and with better salaries than BE/BTech students from similar backgrounds.
5.Does TeamLease Skills University scholarships to students? Are the students paid a stipend during their practical training?
A: TLSU offers scholarships in all domains based on the student’s performance in 12th std exam. We also have a parallel scholarship scheme for girl students. Enabling students to learn is important and while they are Learning On the Job (OJT / Apprenticeship) as NEEM trainees through our Apprenticeship program called NETAP, they do get paid a stiped which is equal to or more than minimum wages of semi-skilled workers.
Q: What is your model for partnering industry for providing the on-the-job training as a part of your courses?
A: For every discipline of learning, we have partnerships with relevant organizations that not only take our students as OJT trainees, but also provide us inputs on our curriculum, examination and much more. We have many industry professionals as part of our various counsels such as Board of Studies and Board of Examination. This enables us to keep our curriculum updated and approved by industries much ahead of our students being deployed at companies . It also helps in developing learning capabilities of our students and continuous upgradation of our faculty members.
Q: Since you are India’s first Skills University, did you face any challenges in setting it up and what were they?
A: It did take us a while to have at least one State Government believe that this University needs to be an independent one rather than create an “also” curriculum on vocational skills and give it the attention and focus it needs . Once the University was formed, detailing the concept , proving to all stakeholders that this is a much needed and viable option , and that it need not follow the conventional form of learning were critical to get the university off ground.
Q: Tell us more about the road ahead and new courses that are likely to be introduced
A: Our courses ,curriculum and content are periodically reviewed by both Academicians and Industry jointly. We will introduce new programs basis the market demands. We do not want to have unemployable and unemployed graduates, hence our programs will only be linked to what industry requires .
Q: Any other points you wish to mention.
A: Currently there are various models of Skills University being tried out by few . I don’t think as a country, we have answers to what is the right , optimal and long term sustainable model. 12 million job seekers enter the workforce annually and there is no model that will help us bring in skilled workforce . There would many parallel models and only then will India see the light of skill based employment and wage differentials.