A landmark agreement was signed between University of Kashmir and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on February 18, 2022 for launching collaborative skill building and entrepreneurship development programmes for the youth of J&K in general and the students of Kashmir University in particular through various corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and programmes of TCS. These programmes include Youth Employment Program, goIT& Ignite My Future Program, Adult Literacy Program, Bridge IT Program that has been specially curated on Tourism and Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Skill DevelopmentProgram. These programmes are primarily aimed at helping our youth to develop twenty first century skills like communication skills, language and IT proficiency, digital and financial literacy skills that they essentially need to possess in order to be successful in the contemporary digital economy and post-pandemic world. While on one hand University of Kashmir is a NAAC A+ accredited institution ranking among top 50 universities of NIRF in India, on the other hand TCS is India’s top-ranking IT and digitally enabled company. Together they have embarked upon this noble mission to empower the youth of J&K over the next three years through these capacity building and skill-enhancement programmes.
Coronavirus pandemic has thrown all new challenges to the graduating youth who are finding it increasingly difficult to find new jobs as a result of serious dent caused to the global economy by the pandemic. As per International Labour Organisation, the economic backlash of COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out some 114 million jobs in 2020 alone with millions of other workers having been asked to either reduce the number of work hours or have no work hours at all. Under these circumstances it becomes imperative upon our youth to mould themselves as per the prevailing situation and build their qualifications, competencies, skills and capacities as per the emerging needs and ever-evolving demands of the industry and job markets failing which they will be left behind in the fierce competition for timely placement and career progression. Onus of responsibility also lies upon the higher educational institutions to make their graduates market ready by strengthening their employability and building their skills to suit the contemporary needs of the industry for which they may even need to substantially innovate their curricular content and teaching pedagogies.
With these very objectives in mind the said agreement was signed between TCS and KU for education, training, skill-enhancement and entrepreneurship development of the youth of J&K over the next three years. Meeting held in a hybrid mode at KU in this regard was organised by the Centre for Career Planning and Counselling of the University, chaired by Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor, KU and attended by the representatives of both the collaborating institutions. Representatives of TCS among others included Mr. Ganapati Balaji, Global Head, CSR, Mr. Sunil Joseph, Head, CSR (India),Mr. Monimoy Dasgupta, India Head, Communications and Community Relations, CSR and Mr. Anurag Krishna, Regional Manager (North India), CSR whereas the team of Kashmir University was led by its Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Talat Ahmad and represented by Prof. Farooq A. Masoodi, Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr. Nisar Ah. Mir, Registrar, Prof. Gowhar Bashir, Dean, School of Engineering, Prof. Geer M. Ishaq, Director, CCPC, Dr. Ghulam Hassan Mir, Director, DLL, Dr. Reyaz Qureshi, Head, Dept. of Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Studies and Prof. Mohammad Shafi, Head, Dept. of Commerce.
Prof. Talat Ahmad, who was the Chief Guest at this occasion said in his presidential address that such collaboration between academia and industry shall go a long way in fostering strong linkages for skill enhancement, proper placement and entrepreneurship development among students. He called for strengthening such relationships between academic institutions and industry for enhancing the competencies, skills and industry orientation of students that in turn will pave way for their timely placement, seamless growth and greater work efficiency. Prof. Talat applauded the initiatives taken in the past and offered at present by TCS under its CSR scheme and called for other corporate houses too to come forward with similar packages that will benefit our student community and our society.
A brief summary of various programmes included in the signed agreement is provided as under:
1. Youth Employment Program: This flagship programme aims at improving employability skills of engineering and non-engineering graduatesas well as undergraduates by imparting training in English communication skills, corporate etiquette practices, analytical thinking, problem-solving techniques, basic computer skills, technical skills, confidence building skills and so on.
2. goIT Program: This programme seeks to increase interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) including Computer Science through design thinking, mobile app development and mentorship from TCS trainers. goIT offers a free and flexible training program for school, college and university students as well as teachers to design thinking as a problem-solving framework, acquire critical thinking experience while troubleshooting designs, improve their ability to work in teams and refine their communication skills through public presentations.
3. Ignite My Future Program: It is a pioneering, trans-disciplinary educator training and resource program which aims to transform the way students learn. The program ignites the spark of curiosity and problem solving through “Computational Thinking”, a twenty first century foundational skill for successful career in every sector. Under this programme, TCS shall provide training to the teachers and students and prepare them for digital age where they can apply Computational Thinking concepts to the trans-disciplinary, real-world problems and situations.
4. Adult Literacy Program: It is meant to augment the Government of India’s efforts to address the momentous challenge of educating adults. Under this programme, TCS shall provide training to identified trainers for an adult education programme to accelerate adult literacy. This initiative supports non-literate adult learners to easily achieve literacy in their native language.
5. Entrepreneurship Development Program: This programme is aimed at supporting committed and passionate youth towards their entrepreneurship journey through skill development, market mobilisation and mentorship to achieve their goals, leveraging digital technologies and platforms. Given the potential of J&K in the Tourism & Hospitality sector, TCS envisages to execute a pilot project on Entrepreneurship in Tourism, in partnership with the University of Kashmir and other relevant partners like Dept. of Tourism.
These CSR initiatives of TCS are ultimately aimed at ensuring continuous availability of talent pool for the industry. Millions of people have benefited so far through these programmes throughout India. Relying on its strong team of 2531 trainers, TCS has trained 11 lakh beneficiaries in functional literacy and more than 130 thousand youth under its youth employment programme so far. Lasting impact of these programmes has been observed upon social inclusion, financial stability, gender equality and in spurring economic activity and growth in the country across diverse populations. Special emphasis is being laid in these programmes upon equal involvement of rural youth from socially and economically marginalised communities, thereby promoting an inclusive culture in the society. Primary objectives of all these programmes continues to be to expose youth to industry needs and make them eligible to take up employment in the corporate sector, public sector and other MSMEs. Leveraging the 4Cs of intellectual capital, technological capital, financial capital and human capital has been the key focus of these CSR initiatives of TCS.
Centre for Career Planning and Counselling of the University of Kashmir will devise a well-thought-out strategy and action plan in consultation with TCS to execute these programmes in a phased and time-bound manner and transfer their benefits to the youth of Kashmir. Attempts will be made to provide training and services to the meritorious and zealous aspirants absolutely free of cost through these initiatives so that their employability gets enhanced and their chances of recruitment by the corporate houses get multiplied manifold. Only thing expected from the students would be enthusiasm and commitment to learn and build their capacities though their hard work and dedication. Centre will extend all possible help and assistance to the aspirants in this regard. Pertinent to mention that the Centre is already engaged at present in providing counselling and placement services besides free coaching to the meritorious civil service aspirants through a reputed coaching academy of the country and will continue its relentless efforts to empower the youth in their march towards building a successful career and thereby serving the nation. Centre stands fully committed to extend necessary support to students in their all-round development and self-actualisation.
Prof. (Dr.) Geer Mohammad Ishaq is Director, Centre for Career Planning and Counselling, University of Kashmir
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK