If you are dreaming of a well-paying job in India's big BPO industry, here's something to give you a head start. IGNOU, a popular distance learning university, is offering a six-month online course to train you up.
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) claims to have got a good response to the "Business Process Outsourcing-finance and accounts" course, and feel the BPO industry in India will welcome the trained lot.
Most of those enrolling for the course are students of commerce and accountancy.
R. Krishna Prasad is pursuing his bachelor's degree in commerce from Bangalore.
"I am a second year student pursuing B.Com (Hons) and I want to join a BPO firm after my graduation, so I enrolled in this course. I think it is familiarising me with the work culture of the industry," Prasad told IANS.
The diploma course that has an intake of 50 students is structured in such a way that apart from the classes conducted on weekends, the students are exposed to an 'online lab' which will simulate the working environment of a BPO.
According to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom), over 1.1 million people are employed in the BPO industry in India. A significant number are below the age of 30. The industry is expected to employ 2.5-3 million professionals by 2010, contributing 7-8 percent of the national GDP.
India, which has a large English-speaking work force, has seen BPOs and call centers mushroom, particularly in major metropolitan cities.
Nanda Gopal, another student pursuing the course, finds the weekend classes convenient and plans to shift to a BPO firm from his current job as an accountant.
"I think such a course will be very useful for my career. I plan to shift to a BPO as soon as I get my degree," said Gopal, who works for a private company.
According to C. Gajendra Naidu, director, IGNOU School of Vocational Education and Training, the course fills the industry's requirement gaps and is more effective than taking up a job and learning hands on.
"As per our research, simulations and animation that the course provides enables students to learn faster and reduces the time taken to understand by 40 percent," Naidu told IANS.
S. Laxminarayana, department head at IGNOU's Sambhram Academy of Management Studies, told IANS: "The course reduces the training time and is cost effective to the recruiting company as well.
"The online practicals make the student familiar with the systems used in a BPO. It makes them more productive. In fact we have many students who did not know the working of a computer and are now computer savvy."
The course was launched in January this year, in collaboration with IT firm Accenture Services Pvt Ltd.
Naidu said: "Accenture has developed the content for the course, provided the back support to the university and plays a crucial role in such online programs."
IGNOU invested Rs.4 million to set up the course while Accenture invested Rs.1 million.
"Our main objective for this course was that students would not have to undergo training when they do join a BPO. Since the first batch of 50 students is small, Accenture will hire them all based on merit. However, when the numbers grow to more than 100 students, we will arrange placements directly into the industry," he said.