We Can Give Talent To Industry : Bala Subramanium, President, School Dvision, NIIT

Bala Subramanium
President, School Dvision, NIIT“We started as an IT  raining company,
and have now  developed into ‘global talent company”

? Can you give us a brief overview of the current         organisational structure and your activities?
NIIT is present predominantly in India, China, Europe,USA, Europe, Middle  ast, Commonwealth countries, we’re now into Latin American countries. People know it as an IT training company, more through its GNIIT course, which  actually help people to prepare and place the best students in the industry under a brand that falls under the Individual Learning business (ILS). NIIT has  our distinct businesses; I would not like to use the word ‘divisions’ because  business implies a single identity. In effect, they are separate companies
within a common brand. Individual Learning Business: In most countries  around the world, they ensure that after 12th or equivalent, students can go through IT undergraduate courses. They come to our training centres and after  he intermediate course, we guide the undergraduate students for further career building through IT. There are two kinds of programmes for careers in IT.  hich
they can do while in college or outside of college, the other is Curriculum of  Advanced Technology Studies (CATS) which is for working professionals. The second business is the Corporate Learning Solutions (CLS) that is built for corporate professionals. Here the training objective is very clear, job  erformance. Most  rofessionals enroll on behalf of their company. We train
professionals in an  outside India, though most of the work we do is outside   ndia, for example, Nokia, Intel, Phillips, Google, etc. One example I can give   ou  is that of Intel, who wanted  to train their staff on the subject of multiple   rocessors. They had a team of developers who formed the basis of the support  structure for the training we came up with. A rather extreme  case would be   ord, who were dealing with a worldwide need for training for their new car   istributors. These are some  examples of the kind of corporate e-learning   olutions this  business generates. For further development in e-Learning,  we   ave also taken over companies like Cognitive Arts and  Element K who have a   arge library of content, not just in IT,  but also in soft skills, and other   anagement areas.  Our third business is School Learning Solutions, which   overs  what we call the ‘school segment’ for the time being. It caters  o the K-12   ojects.   We also have two emerging businesses, IFBI (Institute  f Financial   anking Industry), which is a joint venture  between NIIT and ICICI Bank,  pecifically to create financial  professionals for the banking sector. We provide   raining on  aspects of banking such as insurance. The private sector of  banking   s growing by leaps and bounds but there are two  problems. One problem is   etail reach, which is handled  with technology. Today, banking is done through   he Internet  and ATM machines. The need there is to come up with a  support   ystem and staff for this technology. We provide the  training to fill this gap. That   s how we train professionals  from the industry. In an accompanying   mall and very niche  programme, we take fresh graduates and train them. We   ven  place them in the industry once their training is complete.

? What   pedagogies and delivery modes are you using, is there  anything new on the anvil?
Recently, we undertook a concept based learning programme called Synchronous learning to deliver IIM courses by satellite. Named NIIT Imperia, it delivers courses from IIM Calcutta, IIM Ahmedbad, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore and delivers them over a distance learning platform. Now wehave added courses from IMT as well. These courses can be accessed through any our centres where you can register. The courses are divided into a two-day introduction followed by a one-week final project delivered through e-learning. Some of the special features of these courses is that you can still connect or talk to the teacher, to other students, which has been a very successful initiative.

? What is the kind of future that you foresee for your organization in terms of globalisation?
We started as a IT training company, and have now developedinto ‘global talent company’. We believe that India is growing and has a large need for training talent as we are fast becoming a service sector economy. There is dearth of skilled middle level and top management executives. With the advent of service sector, there is also a demographic shift; we believe that we can give ‘talent’ to industry and not just IT products and solutions. We have two essential areas in which we excel. One, we create learning material, which includes content, pedagogy, relevance, etc. We also handle the process of education delivery to the end point. This is known as Education Process Management. In essence we input the requirement, budget and constraints and create a solution and deliver it. We want to have certain value for education. We aim to satisfy our learners by giving more than they expected. The integrity of the system  s very imp rtant. There are times when we say we are sorry, when it is not in our philosophy, we don’t take it up. We have proper talent development, stipulated by very clear cut drivers. We have always been known for our people, we believe in respect and not popularity. Our mission is very clear, we want t  make  IIT successful by imparting pertinent education through technology.

? How good is the state of the e-learning marketcurrently?
Market is getting slightly organised but is still fragmented. My view is that that unorganised segment is leading the way here. The biggest problem, as a result, is that our customers do not know what they want. So in order to deliver the product, it is a responsibility for us to educate them alongside. The student
number is huge at around 8 million schools. So initially we decided to start with the school student and beyond, especially when the retail segment looks so interesting . What is interesting in India is that it is structured around
boards. Where as in China they follow a multi-tier system. I can go and implement it there. In US, they have a very interesting thing, National Education Policy, where the grants are defined for every stage of education and there is a standard committee. The federal government defines it, and
the state government follows it. Then we have the school districts, where essentially most of the schools are public schools. They are better than our public schools because they have better funds. There are very few private schools. The grants are given. Grants can either come from government or individuals. Even I can go and give a grant. So essentially, our marketing efforts are worth it when a new grant has just been given, or when a new policy has been created. The moment it is given, you go and give it to the school units. This is what every country does, India is different, very different. So any model that we import from other countries will have to be adjusted. Here each private school can implement things differently. Also 50-80% of all schools in India are
local language schools Only about 10% are English medium schools. Very rarely can you take one product and implement it across the board in all schools.
We are saying that we are in government  chools segment as well as the private school segment. The upmarket schools that charge higher and they don’t mind paying a little more. So from the IT point of view, we are already in private
schools and now we  ant to facilitate the integration of IT in Government schools