Faced with an acute talent crunch, companies in relatively new businesses such as insurance, retail, aviation, financial services and clinical research are either collaborating with academic institutions or setting up their own schools to create a pool from which they can recruit.
Companies such as ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd and Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd have tied up with academic institutions to offer specialized courses to address specific manpower demands in their industries.
Others such as Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, Toonz Animation Ltd and a few clinical research organizations such as Bilcare Ltd, Reliance Life Sciences Pvt Ltd and Siro Ltd are setting up academic institutions to offer training to students wanting to make a career in these sectors.
“Many companies in the service sector would have a similar experience. These sectors are relatively new and they are also growing rapidly, so there is a significant demand for the right kind of people,” says Judhajit Das chief of human resources ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Ltd.
Insurance, with a growth rate of over 90%, is one example of a high-growth service industry. ICICI Prudential has doubled its team to 20,000 in one year and is likely to see its human resource requirements surge. “We are scaling up our business and we have a huge demand for people. Unfortunately, the market does not have too many of the kind of people we need,” adds Das.
So, the company has designed a specialized one-year postgraduate programme in management and insurance.
This programme will be offered across 16 centres in eight business schools across the country and is open to any student. The course fee is about Rs1.4 lakh.
ICICI Prudential will hire 960 graduates as executive trainees in the sales and distribution functions of the company in the first year itself.
The retail industry has a similar experience. With the number of jobs in retail sector likely to grow to two million, there was a need for trained personnel.
Pantaloon Retail Ltd, a leading player in the sector, realized that a good way to address the demand would be to collaborate with schools.
“We felt the need to start such an initiative due to a variety of reasons. First, being a new industry, there were very few people at the mid-level who had relevant experience and second, there is no body of learning that exists on the retail industry,” says Atul Takle, the spokesperson for Pantaloon. Today the company has tie-ups with 19 schools to offer specialized retail management courses.
One of these is the Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research in Mumbai. “This (retail management) programme blends academic rigour with a practical interface. This interface is built in by way of store visits every week and also project work with the company for nine months,” says Deepa Dixit, associate dean at Welingkar. On completion of the course, all students are placed with Pantaloon.
Welingkar has similar collaborations for other specialized courses as well. One such tie-up is with HDFC Bank Ltd, a leading private sector bank, for a niche course on small and medium enterprise (SME) banking for students specializing in business administration.
A few service sector firms are choosing to set up such schools themselves. The UB Group has set up the Kingfisher Training Academy. According to Rajesh Verma, executive vice-president (in-flight office) Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, the academy strives to groom new entrants to the customer service industry—airlines, hotels, retail, and insurance. “We expect the first batch to graduate in November 2007. On completion of the course, Kingfisher Airlines would select students from the academy based on their suitability for the positions offered,” he says. By some estimates, the aviation industry could create 200,000 jobs by 2017.
Similarly, Toonz Animation Pvt Ltd, an animation company that is part of the Comcraft Group, plans to set up animation academies across the country offering a one-year programme for Rs1.6 lakh. “Within the next few months, we expect to have 10 centres. The thrust of this initiative is to meet the dearth of animation talent,” says S. Ramaprasad, executive director at Toonz Animation Academy.
According to a study by industry lobby Assocham, the animation industry will need 300,000 professionals by 2009.
Companies offering clinical research services too have started separate training institutions. Among these are schools set up by Bilcare Ltd, Reliance Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd and SIRO Ltd.
According to industry estimates, more than 2.5 lakh clinical research professionals will be needed globally by 2010 and a significant chunk of this demand will come from countries such as India and China.