As India embarks on a massive program to become a manufacturing powerhouse, it is necessary that the large numbers of people who join workforce are adequately skilled. Skilling the workforce is a big task as the country does not have a strong vocational training program in school and college curricula. Because government cannot train all job seekers, it is paramount that private sector be tapped into skilling the manpower in the country. HCL TalentCare is one of those few private sector initiatives that are making such a contribution to this national endeavor. In an interaction with Ramesh Kumar Raja of ‘Governance Today,’ Vijay Iyer, Chief Business Officer, HCL TalentCare threw light on the initiative. Edited excerpts:

Vijay Iyer, Chief Business Officer, HCL TalentCare

Could you share with us the background of the HCL TalentCare initiative? How did the idea come about?

Several studies indicate that a large proportion (upward of 75 per cent) of new college graduates do not possess the skills required to be readily employable in roles for which they seek to be hired. Industry addresses these gaps through large investments in training, internships, shadow assignments, bench strength and other methods to make new hires job-ready and productive. An additional complexity is high levels of attrition in the entry-level (0-3 year experience) workforce, leading to expensive and repetitive cycle of hiring, training, staffing and replacement for the same role.

With an aim to address these challenges, we established HCL TalentCare. We have already placed a significant number of students and are further looking at training 20,000 graduates in next three years to make them employable for different industry verticals.

Our approach to implementing our business proposition involves providing end-to-end solutions across the value chain – (I) Sourcing; (ii) Skilling; (iii) Staffing; (iv) Sustaining while most others players would operate in individual pockets.

What are the core elements of this initiative?

Essentially, HCL TalentCare has created a unique business model by offering “talent-on-demand” to enterprise clients and a “career launch pad” to graduates. This involves providing end-to-end solutions across the value chain by sourcing, skilling and staffing students. We are hereby offering value propositions to both the corporates and the students. For the students, we are offering an assured job once they clear the course. Once they are deployed into the client’s organization, we start managing the professional development of these employees during this period of staffing and improve their capabilities so that at the end of the deployment, they are able to take up higher order roles within the client organization directly. We offer the enterprise client with replacement, scale up/scale down options and assist in managing bench, attrition, growth and quality.

Not only do we make these students job-ready but also deliver phenomenal value to corporates. We deliver future-proof employees who are ‘productive on arrival’ and deliver much more value to the business.

The target sectors identified are: IT Services, Banking, Insurance and Healthcare. We have seen that there is a huge skill gap in these sectors and that is why we are looking to address the challenges in these sectors to start with.

HCL TalentCare screens students through Jobability Quotient Test and develops a large pool of talent for specific entry-level roles in industry through a paid, 6-12 month, residential training program which addresses critical skills – professional, technical, domain, behavioral, language, and communication. Our Signature Learning Experience is designed to increase a student’s Jobability Quotient and transform him or her into a capable and confident professional with relevant skills and certifications.

Does HCL as an employer get adequate number of rightly skilled employees? If not, which are the areas in which you find them most lacking?

HCL TalentCare is a separate business entity and we place students in multiple IT companies. For HCL, I am not the right person to comment.

What according to you is the bigger problem in India, unemployment or unemployability?

Both unemployment and unemployability are problems that co-exist. There are about 1.5 million engineering graduates every year and there are not enough jobs in the market for all of these students. When there are more people and fewer jobs, it is definitely a social challenge. Having said that, a significant percentage of students who graduate are not job-ready.

We have to work together with the academia and industry to understand where the skill gap is and how we can lessen this.

What are your future plans as far as skill enhancement is concerned? What are the new areas you are working on?

Skill India clearly looks at driving skill development initiatives across the country. We are looking to partner with various government initiatives. We are an NSDC partner and are also in talks with several state governments to see if we can align our work with their skill development initiatives. Our goal is to skill 20,000 people in the next three years. Right now, our primary focus is IT and BFSI, and soon we are going to get into healthcare. We will also expand our portfolio by launching a new course on SMAC (social, mobility, analytics and cloud) soon.

How do you think private sector can contribute to the Skill India campaign of the government of India?

The basic premise of the skill development mission is to provide job-ready human resource to industry. For this the industry too needs to come forward and contribute towards this mission by offering skill development courses and training centres as part of their CSR or through a business model.

What changes do you think are required so that students graduating out of schools and colleges are equipped with adequate skills to get desired jobs?

Our Indian education system believes in memorization of studies. It is marks/grades based, not knowledge based. So, when a student graduates, he has a degree certificate but no aptitude/attitude to contribute to the present industries. To get desired jobs, the education system should ensure practical and hands-on sessions in the industry for the students. This will give the students an understanding of what it takes to handle pressure and deliver results at the same time.