Training & Education: On the Recovery Path



Have you witnessed the recent NIIT ad on TV that shows IT recruiters
kidnapping a GNIIT student-the underlying message being that in times of acute
manpower shortage in the IT industry, it’s GNIIT students who are the most
sought after. Well, there might be arguments on the merits or demerits of a
GNIIT student, but, more importantly, an ad on prime time TV indicates the
positive and healthy vibes emanating from the Indian IT training industry.

Numbers too support this hypothesis: from FY 2001-02 till FY 2003-04, the
training sector revenues consistently went down; subsequently, there was a
turnaround last year when the industry recorded a 10% growth, and in FY 2005-06,
this was further consolidated through a 14% growth as the training market size
was pegged at Rs 1,453 crore. True, it might take ages for the industry to again
touch the 2000-01 zenith of Rs 2,594 crore, but the last fiscal did prove to be
healthy for the Indian IT training players, albeit in a market where dynamics
have changed drastically from what they used to be five years back.

Overseas
training revenues grew by 56%, even as the domestic market recorded a very
subdued 3% growth

Aptech
and NIIT among the top 5 IT trainers in China

Revenue
from corporate training grew 47%; retail individual training fell 5%

Multimedia
animation/VFX, hardware training as well as soft skills for BPO were the
courses in demand in the individual training sector

Chinese Led Exports Up
Nothing signified these changing dynamics better than the growth in exports
revenue achieved by the training sector in FY 2005-06. At Rs 436 crore, it was a
significant 56% jump over the previous year-if exports revenue in corporate
training recorded an impressive 50% growth, the individual segment growth in
exports shone even brighter with a whopping 84%. While the industry only gloats
over exports successes for software services, it seems the Indian IT training
sector too is flying high on foreign shores. Both NIIT and Aptech, the two
leading players of the sector, achieved significant success abroad, and that too
across diverse geographies. Interestingly, like the software services players,
NIIT and Aptech both seem to have identified the Chinese dragon as the elevator
to success in their sojourns abroad. In fact, for Aptech, its individual
training revenue from China even exceeded that from India by more than Rs 10
crore; this makes China the new El Dorado for India’s recovering IT training
sector.

A look at the Top 5 IT training players in China for FY 2005-06 establishes
the Indian hegemony: according to a CCID report, while Aptech with 18.8% market
share led the pack, it was followed by the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS)
(with 9.6%), NIIT (7.9%), China Digital (3.8%) and East Software, Dongruan
(3.4%). In China, Aptech had a 50:50 joint venture with a Chinese company Jade
Bird, in which Beijing University had a stake too. It runs over 200 training
centers spread across 57 Chinese cities. NIIT also consolidated its position in
China by partnering with a provincial government to train 200,000 students over
the next five years; it also established a Practice Base in Changsha Software
Park. In 2005-06, NIIT had over 100 education centers dotting 25 provinces in
China, forging partnership with local companies, over 20 leading universities
and three software technology parks.

Though China has been at the forefront of their forays abroad, Indian players
looked at other destinations too during the year. NIIT forged a strategic
academic alliance with UK’s largest university, the Open University, to offer
its degree program-BSc (Honours) Computing and its Practice-to students in
six countries across Africa, South East Asia and the sub-continent. In FY
2005-06, NIIT’s education programs were available in Mandarin, Russian,
Spanish, French and Arabic, apart from English. While China was the pillar of
Aptech’s overseas success in FY 2005-06, it also entered new countries like
Vietnam, Nigeria, Turkey and Yemen during the year; new international centers
were also planned in Mexico, Syria, Afghanistan and Lebanon. Even niche
multimedia training players like Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC)
forayed abroad to places like London, Dubai, Mauritius and Singapore during the
year. 

Training:
The Top Players

 

Revenue (Rs crore)

Growth
(%)

2004-05

2005-06

NIIT

398

450

13

Aptech

115

121

5

Tata Interactive
Systems

98

98

0

Jetking Infotrain

47

63

34

Siemens

13

34

162

CMS Computers

21

15

-29

SQL Star

10

16

60

MAAC

2

5

150

Source:
DQ estimates                   
CyberMedia Research

However, exports growth was not only confined to classroom-based training,
but e-learning solutions through CBTs or Web-based courses also contributed a
big chunk of it. NIIT addressed the complete spectrum of e-learning activities,
like learning content, design and development, development and integration of
learning technology tools, hosted solutions and learner support services. Its
range of offerings in the e-learning domain was bolstered by its SEI CMM Level 5
assessed Knowledge Solutions Business (KSB), which during the year more than
doubled its number of technology customers, adding names like Google, Computer
Associates, BEA Systems and Symantec. This resulted in a 50% increase in
business derived from the technology training domain.

Both NIIT
and Aptech, the two leading players of the sector, did very well abroad,
across diverse geographies

Aptech too provided e-learning solutions for four large clients in the US and
another 15 smaller ones, primarily through its delivery centers in Mumbai,
Chennai and Pune. However, the leader in e-learning exports during the year was
the Rs 98 crore Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) which developed learning
solutions for a galaxy of clients like British Airways, GE, P&G, UPS,
McGraw-Hill, Dept of Works & Personnel, the UK as well as Phoenix University
amongst others. TIS was also providing consulting services on the e-learning
front to organizations like North West Airlines and institutes like Corinthian
University. Other players like Hurix and LionBridge gained substantially on the
overseas e-learning front during the year.

Corporate Training Booster
If exports were one extraordinary success story for the Indian IT training
industry in FY 2005-06, the other boost came from increasing gains from
corporate and institutional training. Revenues from corporate training witnessed
an impressive 47% upswing; in comparison, individual training revenues fell by
5%. In between these lines, hides the story of the changing dynamics of the
Indian IT training industry where corporate training is becoming more important
than individual retail business. NIIT and Aptech showed the way here again,
though smaller players like SQL Star, karRox and Pragati Software did get some
business.

While overall training exports
earnings went up 56%, corporate training grew 50% and retail consumer
training revenue went up 84%. Companies expanded their operations in West
Asia, South-east Asia and Eastern Europe.

For NIIT, corporate/institutional training accounted for 63% of its net
revenues of Rs 450 crore; its European subsidiary became operational even as it
bagged the first training outsourcing order from a European electronics major.
It launched its new product, eGuru, for corporates. The partnership with Intel
and SBI bore fruit while on the government front it managed to win new contracts
from Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Tripura. Aptech, on the other
hand, bagged large contracts from Indian Oil, GAIL, NTPC and Indian Railways.
For corporates, Aptech ventured beyond IT and offered training in soft skills in
retail and BFSI. It offered mutual fund trainings to Mahindra Finance and UTI,
while for a large retail client the company set up four dedicated centers in
four different cities. Recently, it forayed into aviation too in partnership
with Avalon Academy.

Individual Training: Changing Colors
Though individual retail training numbers have dwindled, it still accounted
for a bulk of the revenues for all major players. In metros the demand was more
for short term specialized courses, while students in B and C class cities
preferred long-term career courses. NIIT’s multiple-track GNIIT program for IT
career aspirants continued to drive the company’s revenues in 
2005-06. The program, “co-designed” with the IT and BPO industry,
ensured an 18% growth in the placement of GNIIT students. Aptech also introduced
its new career courses with one-year internship-in a year it proclaimed as
“Year of Placement” these found takers especially in the smaller cities.

Higher demand was for shorter courses like the ones Aptech offered under the
SSI brand, on technologies like C++, Java and .NET. Its online semester exam
programs for Symbiosis and Wellingkars too gained popularity, encouraging the
company to also offer TOEFL exams. NIIT too launched a range of specialized,
fast-track education programs for engineering and IT students-not only did
these provide curriculum support and enhanced skills in new technologies, but
also global certifications from IT vendors under the brand umbrella of “NIIT
Edgeineer”. ANIIT, a special accelerated program for engineering students,
enabled them to gain employment in major IT organizations, through NIIT’s
National Placement Network and Industry Alliances.

As corporate training picked up, companies
launched new packages and activity tied-up with business and state
government

One area in retail individual training that saw good growth during FY 2005-06
was multimedia. Though the Aptechs and NIITs provided multimedia as part of
their total bouquet, it was the niche players like MAAC and Zee Institute of
Creative Arts (ZICA) which scored there, mainly due to their ability to make
students work in live environments in their own studios. With the animation and
visual effects industry witnessing a boom in the country leading to acute
shortage of skilled manpower, these institutes offered courses in all facets of
pre- and post-production techniques. Apptech, too followed suit with its one
year Arena courses now offering live training in studios besides interaction
with the entertainment industry.

While the multimedia boom riding on the animation/VFX wave was
understandable, good old hardware training still retained its niche, healthy
position. Probably with managed services becoming mainstream for Indian
enterprises, there were more demand for hardware and networking engineers and,
consequently, institutes like Jetking and CMS Computers thrived. Jetking’s
popular JCHNP program prospered with 22,501 enrolling this year against 16,489
last year. Jetking was present in 73 centers across 52 cities in India with 15
new centers added in FY 2005-06. On the hardware front, there was a growing
trend of students opting for certifications like CCNA (Cisco Certified Network
Administrator), RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer) and  CWNA ( Certified Wireless Network Administrator). CMS
leveraged its SI expertise to offer its students internship in live situations
at its client premises.

Rajneesh De
rajneeshd@cybermedia.co.in

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