New Delhi: In 2005, Madhukar Shukla, professor of organizational behaviour at premier business school XLRI Jamshedpur, realized that Indian schools were not creating enough human resource (HR) managers, especially to fulfil the demands of the people-intensive information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
A request from Accenture India to start a course specific to the company’s needs led Shukla to launch a 15-month certificate course in human capital management.
Successful experiment: A class at XLRI Jamshedpur. At the XLRI-Accenture programme, fresh hires are selected by Accenture; they then sign up for the course, studying and working simultaneously. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
“(There was) a rationale to think of other ways in which to create HR professionals,” said Shukla on why he launched a course in partnership with a company.
The new course was to be taught at Accenture’s office in Bangalore, with the XLRI faculty travelling from Jamshedpur. One capsule would be taught at the XLRI campus.
Now, with the first two batches of 32 and 34 students, respectively, having completed this course and another batch about to graduate, Shukla is ready to hand over the reins of the programme to his colleagues at XLRI.
It’s not only students who learnt a lesson, XLRI itself has gained from the experience, enough to experiment further. A month ago, it launched an online course in agriculture management in a tie-up with Ikisan.com, a portal owned by Nagarjuna Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd.
XLRI’s experiments with Accenture are part of a growing trend of colleges willing to partner with companies to launch courses specific to their needs. For colleges, it is a chance to step out of the academic vacuum; they come in contact with industry specialists and formulate curriculums in partnership with industry. For companies, it is a chance to create an employable workforce.
“Instead of hiring from outside, (we needed to) organically develop talent internally,” said Anubhav Shrivastava, an HR professional with Accenture who is in charge of the academic tie-up.
Company-sponsored courses usually come with guaranteed employment. Most are paid for. At the XLRI-Accenture programme, fresh hires are selected by Accenture; they then sign up for the course, studying and working simultaneously
For employers, the courses can also be a way of inducting fresh hires into the company and retaining them. Bhavan’s Centre for Inter-Disciplinary Studies in Mumbai, run by educational trust Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, offers various courses run by companies. Among the programmes are those from ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd and Tata Capital Ltd.
The three-month programme for Tata Capital is for graduates already hired by the company.
“Our main aim is to increase employability,” said Ram Maheshwary, director, Bhavan’s Centre. The school shares some faculty and is guided on curriculum by SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, a Mumbai business school, and three other schools.
Tata Capital said extensive research showed that a programme for fresh hires would be best in partnership with colleges rather than starting on its own.
“When you are a late entrant into a well-established business such as financial services, one of the advantage you come with is your ability to look for industry-best practices, see what best can be learnt from the environment around you, build upon and make it your own,” said Amar Sinhji, who heads human resources at Tata Capital, in reply to questions on email.
Company-sponsored programmes mean that executives who know the nitty-gritty of operating in that industry can also teach. The Tata Capital course at Bhavan’s Centre, for instance, has executives from that company taking classes. “We are gaining practical knowledge which we did not get from textbooks,” said Sirsanath Banerjee, 21, who graduated from Mumbai’s H.R. College of Commerce and Economics earlier this year, and is now attending the Tata Capital programme.
Colleges such as XLRI say they do not gain financially from company tie-ups as most companies have a shrewd idea of the cost of curriculum development, faculty and infrastructure. Maheshwary said Tata Capital pays his school at least Rs1 lakh per student (students don’t pay anything). In other courses, such as the one run by ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, the payment to the school is Rs35,000 per student.
But not all courses come with an employment guarantee with the sponsor company. XLRI’s online course with Ikisan.com (kisan means farmer in Hindi), while giving managerial skills to fresh graduates in agriculture, does not guarantee employment with the Nagarjuna group. The Rs45,000 fee is to be paid by the student.
Vijay Jesudassan, who heads the portal, said it will try to ensure that the “first batch is fully placed” by identifying jobs and forwarding resumes. He said Nagarjuna has a lot of in-house requirement for such talent, but the course does not guarantee a job in the company.
The academic tie-ups are being replicated in other countries. Accenture said it tied up with colleges in the Philippines and China last year to launch programmes which are modelled on the Indian programme with XLRI.