Talent building key challenge for India firms

Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:04pm EDT
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By Rina Chandran

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Come June every year, and Infosys Technologies, India's second-biggest software services exporter, turns trainer for the nearly 30,000 students it recruits from top engineering colleges every year.

Its training campus in Mysore, a two-hour drive from its sprawling headquarters in Bangalore, can house about 15,000 people. New recruits spend up to six months honing their skills as Infosys attempts to fill the gaps left by inadequate college education.

Goldman Sachs counts the lack of quality education as one of the 10 factors holding India back from rapid economic growth. Analysts say it raises costs, including salaries as firms vie for the best IT recruits, and reduces firms' competitive edge.

"Ideally, education should happen in colleges, it should not be happening on company campuses," said Srikantan Moorthy, head of education and research at Infosys, whose Campus Connect program in 430 colleges is aimed at "industry ready" recruits.

"But a gap does exist, and we can't wait for the government to put in place an education system that addresses our needs."

There are growing cries to revamp India's education system, which focuses on learning by rote. The calls for reforms include opening up primary and secondary education to private investment, easier entry of foreign universities seeking to establish campuses in India and better monitoring and evaluation systems.

Nasdaq-listed Infosys, which develops software applications, spent $175 million on training and education in the year to March 2009, at a time when an economic downturn crimped margins.

It is not the only one: rival Tata Consultancy Services has a faculty development program in 150 engineering colleges, while Wipro founder Azim Premji has set aside some of his personal wealth for primary education and Anil Agarwal, chief of Vedanta Resources, has committed $1 billion to a university.   Continued...

<p>An employee walks pass a billboard in the Wipro campus in Bangalore June 23, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe</p>