New Delhi: At a time when there is a clear need for education that caters to the requirements of business and industry, HT Media Ltd has decided to focus on providing corporate education through one of its joint ventures.

“There is a need to bring industry and academics together, and build the industry focus (in management education). The opportunity is huge in India and HT is taking a right step," said Dipak C. Jain, former dean of Kellogg School of Management. Jain said the courses will be offered through a mix of online and offline classes.

Jain, along with a few other academicians and industry leaders, was in Delhi on Saturday to participate in a panel discussion on building industry relevance in management education that was organized by HT Media.

“The challenge is real and big. In India, the US or Europe, need of enough skilled people is one of the top three issues for industries," said Adam Gutstein, vice-chairman in the US wing of consulting and auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

This is a not a problem that has shown up recently, but has magnified now looking at the acceleration of economic growth, said Rajiv Verma, chief executive at HT Media. “There is a need and we are trying to provide that. The opportunity to sending employees to re-skill is enormous," Verma said.

India Education Services Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture between HT Media and US headquartered Apollo Global Inc., has started Bridge School of Management to provide executive education.

Henry S. Bienen, president emeritus, Northwestern University, who is closely associated with the initiative, said that in India the demand for corporate executive education is huge but the country does not have many quality institutes. After top institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and the Indian School of Business (ISB), there is a huge gap.

He said the Bridge School will not provide conventional MBA degrees but “customized corporate programmes for different industry sectors".

The Indian education market was worth $40 billion in 2008, according to a CLSA Asia-Pacific markets report published in April 2009. According to the Planning Commission, the country will spend 4.13 trillion on higher education in the five years to March 2017, about four times more than the 84,943 crore allotted during the preceding five years.

“There is a huge employability gap in our country. The gap between the skills required and those churned out by the universities. Anybody who has a legitimate and credible venture to tie these two together is welcome," said Jehil Thakkar, KPMG, partner and head, media practice, on HT Media’s diversification into education.

“There is a dire need for a scalable model in this area."

Commenting on HT Media’s tie-up with the Apollo group to offer executive programmes,Thakkar said Indian firms do not have a culture of credible ongoing training. “You grow up in a company and pick up old ideas. There is status quo in thinking," he said. “Executive programmes are most welcome as even though they exist in b-schools, they are not widespread and have very limited capacity. So there is a place for them. But everything depends on how they are executed."

Several reports in the last few years have said that a majority of India’s graduates, including those from the engineering and management backgrounds, are not job-ready and there is an enormous need for providing new skills to working professionals.

A survey paper released by industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India in January said a dismal 10% of management graduates are actually employable despite the robust demand for managers.

Shuchi Bansal contributed to this report.

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