Dataquest-TSchools Meet: Bridging The Skills Divide

Dataquest held an event on 19th July in New Delhi to discuss the issues in industry-academia collaboration to resolve the problems in skilling of technology graduates. Industry leaders and academicians held discussions on various dimensions of this issue. The academic keynote was given by Prof Pankaj Jalote, Distinguished Professor & Founding Director, IIT, Delhi; and Lt Gen Dr SP Kochhar (Retd), CEO, TSSC. The panels were titled “Collaborating for Infra – How to Leverage ICT to transform Infra in Engineering Colleges” The Tech Advantage – The Power of Online, Social and Emerging Tech for Enhancing Reach, Quality, Affordability and Speed” and “Collaborating for Curriculum – How Academia, Industry and Employers Together can Transform Education Quality.” Pradeep Gupta, CMD, Cybermedia welcomed the guests in his opening address.



Pradeep Chakraborty, Editor, Dataquest – T Schools platforms bring together academicians and industry leaders to brainstorm ideas for innovation and collaboration.

Pradeep Gupta, CMD, Cybermedia – Computers began in IIT Delhi in 1975 as a student programme of 12 students in which we were included. It was a non-credits volunteers programme. That is what education needs to be – learning and exciting experiences. It was predicted earlier that the future would be oversaturated with technologists. Many engineering colleges have closed down. Any changes that happen in any industry are good for people who understand those changes and for the new unfolding situation. When we talk about IT and digital tech, everyone is talking about the transformations happening in businesses. The industry is going to require new areas-trained people. There are newer and newer opportunities which will be created and we have to be in sync with the changes. The focus has to shift to learning. What was taught 2 decades ago is completely obsolete today and what is being taught today will be obsolete in 10 years. We need the ability to unlearn and relearn.

Anil Chopra, Vice President, Research, CMR – 40% of the population has Internet and there is tremendous potential for growth. Mobile has the fastest and the widest reach in the country. Everything is growing at a tremendous rate. There has been tremendous growth in digital usage in the last 4 years. Immense economic value is being added across the industrial sectors. In BFSI 170 Billion has been added to the GDP. Industry follows the customers. A lot of investments in tech is being done in education. We have to create a new kind of workforce that across the industries are required. We have to handle the large volumes of data. There are challenges in every sector. We have a young population of 500 million people who have to be trained. There is a need for new schools and universities. Proficiency in English is an advantage. Digital tech is helping to meet the requirements of the industry. There are many techs which can enhance the efficiency and cater to the requirements of the industry. We can enable students to access smart content. Cybersecurity is critical to protect assets and also in imparting education, in addition to AI, ML, AR and VR. Smaller companies and startups are using these techs in their educational platforms.

Pankaj Jalote, Distinguished Professor & Founding Director, IIT, Delhi  – Academics can do somethings and some things it cannot do. Wherever there is an engagement, the industry has to respect that there is a way of a culture of doing things in academia and there has to be an understanding of this difference. If the industry says why the students don’t go to work in the industry, this doesn’t happen. We hope the students learn. But many students don’t learn and there is nothing you can do about it. Students align their learning to what is being asked in the interviews. My first submission is that if you want this to happen, then please make sure that you test them and recruit people based on your assessment. Academics work according to a programme comprising of courses and subjects. We do our exercise according to the latest research. If you want to invest in skill training, you can work on a few of the courses which are close to your requirements. There are topic-based and learning outcomes-based approaches. Learning-Outcomes can help you to train students. Industry oriented can be result oriented. If you unlearn and relearn, based on some foundations. Therefore, you must work out the foundations on which your requirements function. Academics like to work with concepts. Choose some 4-5 courses an come to a sense of technology and build on it.

Lt Gen (Retd) Dr SP Kochhar, CEO, TSSC –academia are being told it’s their fault that the graduates are not skilled in the new age technology. It’s not their fault. Their work is not only to train them for jobs but also to guide research. You require foundations – e.g., maths and science. Engineering was applied to science. Now we are talking about applied technology. Technical education is quite different from skill education. We see the future of India in technical education and not so much in skills. Indian ecosystem is a very dynamic ecosystem. You should get into industrial manufacturing based on new-age technology. We have to catch up with the requirement of the industry. Your articulation in policy framing is long term and hence, it should play a vital role in policymaking.  We should test graduates on their adaptability to the environment and not according to a set pattern. India is going to be a land of livelihood and not of salaries anymore. Don’t look at the West – their parameters are totally different. We have different needs. We have not reached 3G and we’re jumping to 5 and 6 G. We don’t have the infrastructure and the requirements. Industry takes it for granted that graduates coming out of a university have work skills. Their communication skills, negotiation skills are important.

Session 1

Faisal Kawosa (Moderator), Founder & Analyst, Tech Arc Consulting  – The gap is in the energy level of graduates expected in the corporate sector. Basic skills are not up to the mark.

Brig SK Kakkar, Director, Career Development Cell, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology – Digital technology is the new approach in which you can get content immediately. In our Institute, the basic starting point was WhatsApp, Youtube for the teachers-students groups who are connected. Webinars are recorded and posted on social media channels. The students don’t have to be present in front of the teacher to learn. We’re a social media platform in education.

Dr Ganesh K, Director, Placement & Training, Industry Institute Partnership Cell (IIPC) – We have implemented the wi fi for all students and all learning material is online. Students’ pilot license is in pipeline for any students who want to learn flying. For Commerce students, we have set up a small lab where they can trade and learn the tricks of shares business. Incubation centre for digital learning is also developed in our premises.

Dr MPS Bhatia, Professor, Computer Engineering, Netaji Subhash University of Technology – We have cloud-based ERP where students can access any change of timetable or where any tech talk that is happening. We have several industry setups – where students get industry environment in our premises itself. Some faculty are using Woodle and Google classroom. The teacher posts the assignment there. Students complete the assignment and the teacher evaluates it. All activities are done on the cloud.

Ashish Bharadwaj, Regional HR Head & TR Head, Synopsys – When we hire, we go to the best colleges and all graduates are excellent. But the experience in the actual implementation of the technology is lacking. Industry-academia partnership is producing talent that is required by the industry. Last year we looked at the industrial requirements. Rather than students going to the industry for projects, we can have a tie-up where we can have mentors in the college and students can do the project in college itself. Having exposure to global colleagues nurtures the students.

Session 2

Cavita Taraji, Pro-VC, Chitkara University – We’re living in the transitioning world of technology. Technology has political, social and economic reach. The online medium has facilitated our participation in how we govern ourselves. Social and healthcare have made it possible to be reported, assisted faster. Economic activities have undergone huge change by digital tech.

Yogesh Mishra, VP, Thomas Assessments – the advent of technology has given power to the students.

Dr SN Sridhara, Professor & Director, Amity School of Engineering & Technology, Amity University – Technology advancement is uniform in all sectors. Students are mart. When a new technology comes, students learn it faster than the teachers. Students have the liberty to choose the technology.

Brig Abhay Bhatt, Director, Army Instt of Technology – Online education is very democratic as nobody can ask you anything. Education in the digital medium is highly collaborative.

Prof Manoj Khaladkar, Head, Training & Placement, Army Instt of Technology – Online is personalised. Student matters in this medium and the effect is completely different. Offline is generalised and more basics are covered. Personalised learning is data-driven. The teacher is very important to the ecosystem. It’s not confined to location and time. AR helps in augmenting physical pace.

Mona Bharadwaj, Head, University Relations, IBM – The future is now. The digital era is competitive, transparent and on-demand. No one can guarantee a lifetime in today’s digital era. It is thought that the industry knows all, but that’s not the case. Technology keeps on getting updated and the industry personnel have to keep on reskilling to keep pace with it. The training of workforce is very important in the industry. IBM has been doing a lot of work in this direction.

Session 3

Sunil Pandey, Director, IT, ITS Ghaziabad – about 40% of total resources require to be replaced by reskilling or academia should train the equal no of population. Until a complete ecosystem is aligned with the changing needs of industry, it would be difficult to fulfil the requirements of the industry. The industry has to sit with the academia, discuss and guide them and also to change the syllabus and also reconstruct the faculty to bring about the change in reskilling.

Mona Bharadwaj, Head, University Relations, IBM – Students can be taught In emerging technologies. Beyond this, it’s important to see how faculty can cope with all the requirements of the industry. We need to connect the startups. Many startups may be looking for students to teach. A lot of free software is made available from IBM. We should focus on the holistic development of the students.

VSS Kumar, VC, Vel Tech Rangarajan Dr Sagunthala R&D Institute of Science & Technology  – Faculty can’t teach and students can’t afford the books on new-age technologies. Only 5% of the students can get the required training. We should build the curriculum so that students can join a diploma certificate in 3rd year. They can get training in the required skills.

Anand Bhalerao, Dean, College of Engineering, Bharati Vidyapeeth – Academics can’t advance at the speed of industry. Both have different goals. Both have parted ways. If we want our teachers to be proficient in the latest knowledge, we have to invest in training them. Academia has little resources to do this. We made many changes such as mandatory internships. Institutions should be autonomous. Two big companies are coming to start their programme in automation and robotics at our institutions. Industry and academia must come together to design the programme. Otherwise, the graduates won’t be employable. 4 yrs period for engineering is not sufficient. Like in medicine, we must have 4 and a half yrs of curriculum and half years of training.

Participants were felicitated with mementoes.

One response to “Dataquest-TSchools Meet: Bridging The Skills Divide”

  1. S K Arora says:

    Nice info. Congratulations Dataquest.

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