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Sep, 16 2009

Entrepreneur in the making

Armed with degrees, yet without jobs, that is the employment scene in the country. But, the hordes of youth that are not able to get suitable employment are the potential candidates for vocational training institutes that can be opened by franchisors to i

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future,” said Franklin Roosevelt. The same is reiterated in the endeavours of various vocational training institutes in India that have taken up the task of educating the youth not just to win degrees but earn skills to be employment ready.

Whereas, education aims at making us learn things, vocational education particularly, aims at making us learn the art of earning a livelihood. It teaches us the skills to procure a job. One can go for any vocational course, considering his interest as well as aptitude to get the most out of a particular vocational course. According to an investment research, the vocational training market (airlines, retail, financial services) in India is estimated to be $ 136.50 crore and is expected to grow at CAGR of 22.1 per cent year-on-year. A requirement of 11 lakh executives is expected in retail, telecom, finance, call centers, BPO and service companies in the next two years. Moreover, the current recessionary scenario has made the employer more selective in choosing the employee with the right skills set. Manoj Chawla, Senior Vice President, NIS Sparta Ltd declares, “It is for this segment that NIS Academy creates short and long term programmes that make them ‘market ready’ for customer facing roles. The programmes of NIS Academy are designed to build business skills which comprise sales, customer retention, personal effectiveness and leadership skills, which are much required in business domains such as retail, finance or telecom”.

According to Mathai Chackochen, CEO, Inter Networkz, “In general, during the slow down many professionals get time to upgrade their skills and they have the time in their hands to study new technologies. For entrepreneurs, it is a good time to invest and get ready for the times for technologies to land, which will sustain the growth in training for next few years. This also gives entrepreneurs time to add on business of other brands and sustain their business in these conditions.”

Vocational education catching on

There are indicators galore heralding opening of more and more vocational and training institutes in the country, like Union Human Resource and Development Minister, Kapil Sibal talking of floating more polytechnics, Indian vocational training institutes like NIIT and Aptech gaining ample foothold or recent incidents of Indian students witnessing racial attacks forcing people to reconsider Indian study options.

In the countries like Germany, seats in universities remain vacant as the people there believe that the university education does not brace up students professionally. Over 80 per cent students there take up part time jobs along with their vocational courses, thereby acquiring practical and theoretical training concurrently. The similar trend is catching on in India, as people today, are more inclined towards job oriented courses rather than acquiring mere university degrees. Therefore, the franchise of a vocational training institute holds to gain profitably, especially in the present times - of economic slowdown.

“Any developing country requires people with multi domain experience, and we are catering to that need at the moment, by inducting students and professionals  in courses that have global acceptance; this will help them to face challenges in the time of crisis.” adds, Chackochen.

Better English, better jobs

Whereas, the demand of sound communication skill proves a boon for some, it turns fatal for the ones who lack it. Good communication skills being a necessary pre-requisite in almost every job has led to the mushrooming of so many spoken English centres. The institutes like VETA, TKWs English, Hero Mindmine etc. aim at bridging the gap by providing skill development training through experiential learning techniques. Realising the fact that the growing technology service sector requires not only top of the line technology savvy professionals, but  also people with management skills, Karrox, an IT training institute has partnered with a company known as LMI India for rendering soft skills and leadership training to its students. Aptech will also be shortly entering the English language training space called, ‘English Express’. IACM has also included 48 hrs of English language training module for improving skills in English language.

IT a necessary skill

Indian IT training market is expected to be 2700 crore and is growing at 64 per cent CAGR. According to IDC, the opportunities in IT certification will be abundant in Asia and the Pacific region, especially in India, China, Korea, Singapore, and Australia. Institutes such as Aptech, NIIT, Jetking, IACM, Karrox, Inter Networkz (to name a few) offer various courses to fulfil IT demands across various industries besides individuals.

Providing computer literacy to school students, training college students for IT careers and refining industry professionals looking to move higher at the corporate ladder by providing them IT skills constitute various tasks the IT institutes perform. NIIT, set up to help the nascent IT industry overcome its human resource challenges in 1981,  has today grown to be amongst world’s leading talent development companies offering learning and knowledge solutions to over five million students across 40 countries through franchise route through wholly owned subsidiaries in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Japan and the USA.

Education in retailing

India is a land of shoppers and shopkeepers.  The age-old unorganised shopping has since traversed to organised shopping, and retailing has now undergone a total transformation. The institutes like TKWs Retail School offer courses providing strong foundation to the students before launching them in retail or hospitality sector. This helps an aspirant in not only securing an entry level job but also paving way for a strong career ahead. TKWs Retail School through its placement division has succeeded in achieving international retail placements of its students. The institute has affiliations with leading retailers like ADAG group, Reliance Group, Tata Group, Future Group to organize ‘on-job-training’ for its students. The students after their course completion are placed with similar companies through TKWs. Quite hopeful of the success of TKWS retail School, Amit Goyal, Director, Franchise & Training, TKWs asserts, “We see over 10 million new retail jobs being created in next couple of years. With the government removing the FDI restrictions, these numbers can increase manifolds.

All students of Anthem Academy have access to a specially designed personality development soft skills module, which helps them integrate well into corporate culture. Healthy interactions with leading players provide participative learning opportunities to students. Rajiv Ahuja, Director Founder, Anthem Academy illustrates, “All our students underwent a 30-day on-the-job training with Pantaloon, where they were able to see practical implementation of the concepts they learnt in the class room.”

The animated character

Studies by NASSCOM show that India has the potential to grow its animation industry to around USD 1 billion by 2010, but will remain restricted to USD 869 million on account of a looming demand-supply gap in the area of employable human resources. A similar situation exists in the gaming segment as well, which has the potential to achieve revenues of USD 732 million by 2010, but is expected to touch only around USD 424 million by that period, owing to the paucity of skilled manpower. This shows that the animation and gaming industry has the potential to generate a lot of employment opportunities.  On the other hand, companies like, ZICA, Toonz Animation, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), Frameboxx and Xplora Design School have contributed immensely to the Indian animation industry and intends to take this legacy forward and expand throughout the country.

Starting as an in house training division of Toonz Animation India Pvt. Ltd in the year 2002, Toonz Academy is one of the premier institutes in South Asia, offering state-of-the-art training facility in 3D and 2D animation.  P Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz Academy informs, “The rise of Indian animation and gaming industry has been more than phenomenal. The segment is witnessing burgeoning growth with global outsourcing contracts pouring in. This is supplemented by the growth of a strong domestic animation market.”

Education for vocation

While excitement and zest for training may be the reason for setting up a training institute, they very well realise the difference between education and training. “The more I got exposed to training, the more interested I became in it. I was always clear in my mind about the distinction between education and training, and the opportunity to provide job skills aimed at specific industry verticals seemed like a very exciting space to get in, and hence Anthem Academy was born,” informs Ahuja.

These institutes do have tie ups with various companies for the placement of their own products which is why most of them provide 100 per cent job guarantee. “We have tie ups with United Colours of Benetton, Orient Craft, Study by Janak, Dhruv Globals, to name a few for training, internships and placements,” says Sunjey Aggarwal, CEO, D. Newage School of Design. Aptech has a full fledged placement cell which has forged close association with industry for both internships and placements. Ninad Karpe, CEO & MD, Aptech states, “We have several activities like career fests which provide a meeting ground to the recruiting organizations as well as our students.” Besides having tie-ups with Microsoft, Oracle, Prometric and Pearson VUE to bring latest technological updates for its students, IACM enjoys strong relations with more than 300 corporates who employ its students on regular basis. Besides IACM campus interviews, its students update their resumes on its career support proprietary portal e-connect™.

However, players like VETA with over three decades of standing do not offer 100 per cent placement guarantee. “We help job seekers and also hold campus interviews where corporates come and select VETA students,” declares Major Rajan, ED, VETA. On the other hand, NIS Academy provides 100 per cent placement assistance to the students pursuing its industry aligned programme in business skills with UGC & DEC recognised BBA and MBA in applied management from Annamalai University.

Opportunities galore

Franchising in vocational education has a vital role to play as it facilitates the companies to have wider penetration in lesser time and the local knowledge which the franchisee brings with him is an add-on for the franchisor. “At every point of expansion, we feel the need for an entrepreneur running the center, who is committed to the mission of educating and skill development. Hence, we decided to partner with such people who will drive further growth while ensuring quality of deliverables and student satisfaction,” explains Goyal. “There is so much to learn from some incredibly successful franchising businesses globally and in India in other industries.  Done well, franchising enables several entrepreneurs to come together and in a short period of time, a national foot print can be built,” adds Ahuja. Besides being open to single as well as multiple franchising, Anthem Academy also has a combo franchise offer wherein a potential franchisee can sign up two complementary businesses in one joint deal. Anthem Academy and Time Educational and Immigration Consultants have decided to partner and offer overseas study counseling, immigration support and IELTS Test Preparation training through a single, composite franchise agreement.

Talking of NIIT’s successful franchise model, G Raghavan, President, Individual Learning Solutions, NIIT says, “The path-breaking franchisee-based business model of NIIT earned the epithet of “The McDonalds of the IT training world” by the Far Eastern Economic Review. The business partner network not only helped NIIT expand its presence across India but also fueled the fire of entrepreneurship in the country. NIIT helped young Indians, with ambitions to set up profitable businesses and participate in the growth of the exciting IT industry.”

Explaining why the company opted for franchising to expand, Subhadarshi Tripathy, Head, Youth Business, Zee Learn says, “Since ZEE Learn is a success story in franchising in areas of pre schools (700 Kid ZEE in 300 cities) and K12 Schools (42 across India), we have forayed into franchising of vocational studies to reach larger TG.”

Commenting on the advantages of franchising, Ravinder Goyal, Director, IACM says, “The IT centre franchising is much easier than starting one’s own business as the entire resources, which are created over a period of time by the franchisor are readily available to the entrepreneur. Besides, the on-going development, training on latest technologies, up-gradation of staff, launching new curriculum as per industry requirements and advertising are a few to mention.”Adding to it Karpe says, “Aptech’s growth strategy across the globe has been driven by franchising, for which we have a robust model. Aptech has been growing steadily over the years adding around 50-70 new franchise centres every year. Barring a dozen own centres, which serve as model centres, we have partnered with individuals, corporates and governments for setting up centres.

TKWs is looking for strong partners who can take territorial rights and start multiple units in their territories. They are also partnering with schools, colleges, management, engineering and medical colleges, private training centers and English teachers to start individual centers. “The need to expand into A class cities, lack of local understanding and unavailability of quality people to run the business are the factors which motivated us to franchise,” explains Goyal, TKWs Retail.

India has a huge business potential through franchise model. Franchising, of course, benefits the franchisor as well. “This route has helped us have VETA centres from Sri Nagar to Kanya Kumari,” declares Major Rajan.

Aid to franchisees

The task of the franchisor is not complete with the opening of a franchise centre in a particular region rather he has to assist the franchisee for the smooth running and resulting success of the centre. The franchisor backs the franchisee with the wisdom he has acquired over the years, besides providing him continual support, service advantages to customers over competitors and predefined promotional strategies. Most franchisors provide everything a franchisee needs to create, operate, develop and make business successful. Each of the trainers at each of the Aptech centres, whether company owned or franchised is trained and certified by the parent company for him to be eligible to impart training to students. Aptech has a separate ‘Train the Trainer Academy’ which takes care of this aspect.

The uniformity of operations at TKWs is ensured through a strong control over processes which are regulated as per ISO 9000:2000 standards. The software and workbooks help them in maintaining the consistency of education delivered. It also conducts regular training of trainers and conducts periodic student assessments to keep improving. The teaching staff as well as the franchisee is adequately trained. TKWs runs an incubation centre where the franchisee gets help in improving the business. Karrox provides a complete start-up kit for setting up Karrox centre and organises various training programmes like Business Basic Workshop for new partners and Train the manager for each cluster / zone which is responsible for the success of each franchise centre. It also supports in promotional activities, scholarships, guidelines, trainer programme, sales and marketing training, etc.

At Anthem Academy, a new sign up gets a start up kit which includes detailed set up guidelines. Material specifications and pre identified vendors with negotiated prices are also offered to franchisee that may or may not use them for their centre fit outs. The centre head, the counselors and the front office staff are all put through startup and operations training. “Our Education Director/Departmental Heads have final say on this as the faculty is our core strength. Each selected faculty is introduced to our instructional delivery methods and procedures and participates in training programmes at our corporate office in New Delhi,” informs Ahuja. The content and duration is adapted based on individuals/batches. Refreshers are held periodically at or near franchisee locations where teams from nearby franchisee location are invited. In addition, training for marketing events, launches, promotions, placement fairs etc also take place from time to time. “Our partners undergo an induction/training programme where they undergo training on our products and about the organisation. They also receive a start-up kit that helps them set up operations. We also offer support in terms of marketing and business development consulting,” says Karthik KS, CEO, 24x7 learning.

IACM offers free advertising support through nationwide advertisements, free IACM official courseware, three free student promotional kits on every admission, free access to its various promotional templates, staff recruitment support through free advertisement on a reputed job portal, free access to C-connectTM, complete customised interior layout along with various promotional, educational posters and display material, continual up gradation of courseware, regular training programmes for faculty and non-technical staff, free online English practice session to IACMians.

Company

Segment

Operational

centres

Expected centres

Area (sq.ft)

Investment (lakh)

IACM

IT training

58 (54 franchised)

125 by 2010-end

800-1200

12-14

Inter Networkz

IT training

5

3 by 2009-end

800-1200

15-40

Anthem Academy

 

2

 

 

 

ZICA

Animation

4

25 by 2010-end

1500+

20-25

NIS Sparta

 

55

100 by 2009-10

2000-2500

15-25

TKW’s English Point

Spoken English

14

 

 

 

TKWs retail school

Retail

5

18 by 2011-end

 

 

24x7 learning

 

 

 

 

 

Newage school of design

 

24

 

1200-1500

 

Karrox

IT

80 (60 franchised)

200+ by Mar ’10

1,200 to 2,000

 

Veta

Language skills

50-60

 

1200

 

Aptech

IT

500 franchised, 11 co-owned

 

1200-2000

20-40

Arena

Animation

200 franchised

 

1500-3000

20-40

Avalon

Aviation

52 franchised, 1 co-owned

 

2500

40 to 80

N Power

Hardware & Networking

44 franchised, 6 Co-owned

 

1000-1200

15-20

Toonz Academy

Animation

10

100

2,000-3,000

50-60

Hurdles to overcome

One of the major obstacles for vocational institutes that need to be overcome is a continuous call for updating the courseware, skill set and technology involved in order to maintain pace with the changing needs of the sectors concerned. Karrox illustrates, “It usually happens, when a student enrolls for a long term program and while he / she reaches to the last semester, the technology / program is outdated and is of less use anymore. Karrox has in this case taken special emphasis on its curriculum to overcome the hurdle of technology change and revise the curriculum accordingly, charging no extra fees from students.” Hence, students enrolling for a long term program with Karrox are trained on latest technology over a period of three years. VETA also upgrades its curriculum and methodology every six months. Its training team is on tour of various centres throughout the year. Its regional trainers visit the centres for refresher training every fortnight.

While demand for skilled professionals is growing by the day, there is a dearth of quality education in the field due to the sad mushrooming of below average institutes that promise everything but deliver nothing. They churn out professionals who lack the skills to compete in the competitive market. Therein lays the challenge of maintaining quality among quantity.

Getting a trained and motivated trainer is yet another issue needing attention as without quality trainers quality training is not possible. IACM's faculty goes through a rigorous trainer’s training program on a regular basis. Before teaching a single course, its instructors pass a rigorous selection and training process to prove they can deliver superior quality training. “Faculty goes through our intensive Train-the-Trainer program where they learn the latest techniques in collaborative learning environment. Regular feedbacks and checks are performed to evaluate the faculty continually,” elaborates Goyal. NIS Sparta continuously undertakes training and certification of the business partner’s faculty and other staff. “Our franchisees get access to Campus Automation Software (CAMUS) that enables them to manage their operations effectively,” elaborates Chawla.

Way ahead

According to a research, 25 per cent of the total graduates passing out of the system are actually 'industry-ready', reflecting the urgent need to create more intimate linkages between academia and industry. This reflects strong growth potential ahead for vocational training industry across various sectors even though the slowdown poses threat before the vocational training institutes as the huge cut on jobs is erasing the possibility of consumption of the pass outs of these institutes. Conversely, entrepreneurs get time to invest and get ready for the good times and look for technologies which will sustain the growth in training for the next few years. This also gives entrepreneurs time to expand taking franchise route, thereby franchisor and franchisee benefiting mutually by one’s concept and expertise and other’s local market know-how.

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