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Focus on Employment – Lt Gen SP Kochhar, CEO, Telecom Sector Skill Council

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“Telecom Sector Skill Council’s primary focus is to provide jobs. We recognize that maximum employment will occur in the private sector. We approach industry about their plans for coming 5-10 years and then we decide on job roles in consultation with the industry,” says Lt Gen (Dr) SP Kochhar, CEO, Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC). In conversation with Elets News Network (ENN)

Please give us an overview of the Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC).

TSSC is one of the sector skill councils formed to impart skills under the government’s current policy. It is a joint collaboration between National Skill Development Council (NSDC) and the employing industry. Employing industry means private sector companies and majority of the members in the Board of Directors of TSSC are from the private sector. The majority of the fund for TSSC has come from NSDC as grant and some portion comes from the industry. Both, government and private sector have been fully involved with TSSC.

What is the main objective of TSSC and how does it work?

TSSC’s primary focus is to provide jobs. We recognize that maximum employment will occur in the private sector. We approach industry about their plans for coming 5-10 years and then we decide on job roles in consultation with the industry. Once they are done, we make syllabi to train people, again in consultation with the industry. We send the syllabi to NSDC for approval and after it is approved, it is published on the NSDC website as a national occupational standard.

Tell us about TSSC’s method of training.

We don’t train by ourselves; we have training providers, while assessment agencies do the assessments. Our role is to train people in skills rather than in academics. There is no age limit – as far as we are concerned, middle aged or senior citizen people can also enroll. We realize that some people need re-skilling, like those already working. They can also be re-skilled using our facilities. We provide a tamper-proof certificate issued by NSDC and we are endeavoring to make this as bare minimum requirement for employment in industry. The government is also trying to bridge the gap between the academics and the industry.

Please shed some light on BSNL and MTNL’s involvement with TSSC and about private telecom companies’ involvement.

BSNL and MTNL are not directly involved, as they have their own captive audience and training centers. But talks are on and hopefully we will get them in. On the other hand, the Secretary of Telecom Department is our chief mentor. Among private operators, majority of them are part of our council. We have started looking at core telecom sector also. Telecom security and legalities of telecom are some skills, and we are in talks with various countries that run telecom security courses. But all these will be part of national occupational standard only if the industry has employability for them, and we will get involved only if there is employability.

Please elaborate on ‘STAR’ scheme and TSSC’s initiatives under this program.

National Skill Certification and Reward Scheme branded as the STAR (Standard Training Assessment & Reward) Scheme has been formulated to encourage skill development for youth by providing monetary rewards for successful completion of approved training programs. It aims to increase productivity of the existing workforce, align training and certification to the needs of the country, provide monetary awards for skill certification to boost employability and reward candidates undergoing skill training by authorized institutions with monetary reward of Rs 10,000. This scheme will benefit 10 lakh youth at an approximate cost of  Rs 1000 crore. NSDC has given TSSC 80,000 certification numbers to be awarded by August 2014. TSSC has taken up 11 job roles under STAR in four sub-sectors, service providers, handset, network and passive Infrastructure.

Is it urban or rural area-which is the focus area of your organisation?

Some skills are required in the rural or mid level towns, while some are needed for urban areas and metro cities. Mobile phone repair is necessary for urban areas as well as the rural areas. We don’t want to plan. We want market forces to drive it. For this, we have a ‘Labor Market Information System (LMIS)’. It has mapped the industry’s requirement to what is available in a particular area. So people know there is demand for a particular of job role in that area and go for training for that particular job.

What is the fee structure of TSSC?

Fees structure is left to the market forces. We don’t specify any fees structure. Different institutions can charge different fees for the same course. Also, there is competition, so we don’t charge much. For STAR, we have 11 job roles and they are charged Rs 4000 per month per candidate. At higher levels, fees can be higher. In the STAR scheme, government’s policy is generally to empower entry level people, like call centre operators, front office-field service assistant and mobile phone repairmen. We have maximum number of people from these jobs.

A lot of courses are run online now. What are the TSSC initiatives in the field of online courses?

I recently talked about it in a vision statement. We must take advantage of good trainers are available in metro cities. We will go online. Initially, 30 percent of our courses will be free. It will help us in two ways. Firstly, theory part will be disseminated free, so it will be helpful for nation building. Apart from Hindi and English, courses will be made available in regional languages also. Thereafter, we will conduct an online test. Anybody who clears this test can join our online course. Initially it will be in HD video, but later we will go for higher technology videos. Instructors in studios in the metros and local instructors will collectively teach the courses. This will help us as we will have best of the instructor from a metro and a local instructor. Thereafter we will try to assess them mostly through online system. We are also trying to tie up with a job portal to get them jobs. But the portal will be available for our certificate holders only. We are at the final stage of getting partners and will be launching soon.

What are the other focus areas apart from telecom sector for TSSC?

Apart from telecom skills, we also impart training for Electronic System Design Manufacturing (ESDM). This mandate has been given to us by DeiTY. The government will bear 75 percent of the cost for this course for general candidates and 100 percent for reserved candidates. This scheme has been launched recently. NIELIT is our partner for this scheme. We also plan to teach people on skill development on DTH broadcasting mode.

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