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Task: Propelling skill development & employment for Telangana’s youth

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Shrikant Sinha

To make it an attractive proposition to the investors in the state, Telangana Govt. offers skilled and trained entry level resources through TASK, without the investors incurring recruitment and training cost as well as benefit from a workforce that is productive from the first hour itself, says Shrikant Sinha, CEO, Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (TASK), Government of Telangana, in a conversation with Sudheer Goutham of Elets News Network (ENN).

The Government of Telangana has announced 2020 as ‘the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI)’ and the World Education Summit also revolves around emerging technologies in AI. Can you please tell us about TASK’s initiatives on a similar theme and how it is moving forward??

The announcement made by the Telangana government in 2020 being the year of AI is a step in the right direction. And while the industry is gearing up for it, it is important for the youth to be trained so that theycan get the right kind of skilled and industry ready manpower as and when required.

TASK is working in this direction in three different ways. The First Step was training the faculty in December 2019, through a five-day training programon AI with focus on Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL), thus making them competent to train and guide students in this emerging area.

The Second Step, is conducting multiple events such as Technology days, where we will invite industry people to mentor our studentsin various colleges across the state.

The Third Step, is working closely with corporations like, CISCO, Intel, Oracle, SalesForce, AI-First Academy, and many others to ensure that our students benefit the maximum from the training, and are prepared for any job that the industry today has to offer. We would also be working with all the leading technological institutions like IIT-H, IIIT-H, BITS Pilani-H and NIT Warangal.

As you said, Intel, Oracle, CISCO and other organisations have collaborated with you for this initiative. Tell us about other collaborations you are looking forward to in this line?

Collaboration is the best way of moving ahead. As the world comes closer, and distances become shorter, collaborations become more important, and that is why we are looking at collaborating with multiple partners. Recently, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with about 20 such partners, out of which a considerable proportion is focusing on AI, Big Data, Cloud, Virtualisation, IoT and other emerging technology areas.

For instance, we have partnered with Manipal ProLearn on AI and ML. We have also partnered with AI-First Academy, where we will be working on how students can develop projects on AI, ML, and DL. Other than this, there are different kinds of partnerships that we are looking forward to.

As our focus is not only limited to IT/ITeS, we are also exploring and expanding collaborations in the field of RPA (Robotisation & Process Automation), AR/VR, AVGC, Life Sciences, Pharma, Aerospace, Robotics, Smart Manufacturing, Infrastructure sector and many others.

As a wing of the Telangana IT Department, TASK is said to be an integral and connecting bridge between industry and academia. Please give us an overview of it.

TASK works in a unique way. We have 676 colleges registered with us, which essentially means that there are 676 TASK centers across 33 districts of Telangana so that interested students can register with us easily. As of date, we have 60,000+ students registered with TASK. Apart from students, there are college pass outs and others, making a total of about 1,87,000 people registered with TASK. I would further like to mention, that out of all the students registered with TASK, 64.7 percent belong to the underserved communities.

Furthermore, close to about 6,000 faculty members have been trained by us on different topics including courses on Technology, Pedagogy and also Psychology of the Gen ‘Z’. We also have been running some unique programs for the faculty members to prepare our students to work in the Global Industry. A lot of big corporate like Infosys, Oracle, and Salesforce have come forward to run these programs for our faculty members, who are then mandated to conduct similar programs in colleges in various district across the state.

Our emphasis and focus is to train our students from the job perspective, hence along with industry and domain skills we also train studentsin essential skills like critical thinking, problem solving, working in a collaborative environment, communication, data interpretation, and interview skills, which enhance their employability quotient.

Have you quantified the number of youth employed so far due to the initiatives of TASK?

TASK conducts job fairs and placement melas, apart from which we help colleges host placement drives in their premises. Rough estimates show that around 40 to 50 percent got a job, around 30 percent went for higher education and the rest 10-20 percent went for self-employment or joined their family business.

One unique thing about the TASK is that the corporate advertise their entry-level job requirements on our portal. Hence the portal is updated with all the job opportunities available for our students, and they can apply from the portal itself.

Since you are familiar with the industries that are investing and getting established in Telangana, what you think would be the state’s employment rate in the next five to ten years?

According to a recent Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report, Telangana comes second in ease of doing business. Getting land and money to set up an industry is an easy part, but getting the right kind of manpower is difficult and crucial for the industry to survive. To make it an attractive proposition to the investors in the state, Telangana Govt. offers skilled and trained entry level resources through TASK, without the investors incurring recruitment and training cost as well as benefit from a workforce that is productive from the first hour itself. In case we don’t have the required equipments or expertise, we seek help from the industry. For example, in aerospace we don’t have the required equipment, so we depend on the partner organisation, which is also the recruiting organisation, to work with us and co-create a curriculum; and that’s how we improvise and implement the program.

It is well known that one-third of the world’s vaccine are manufactured in Telangana Genome Valley in Hyderabad and hence a lot of jobs exist in that sector as well. In collaboration with the industry, we are also conducting programs on vaccine skill development and other pre-requisites in the pharma industry.

With more investment coming into the state, more companies and industrial parks like LED, Pharma, Life Sciences, Multi-modal Logistics and Textile getting established more youths will get jobs. I think the industry ready & skilled youth of Telangana is extremely well-positioned to take advantage of all these facilities.

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