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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Campus Connect: SSOU to introduce more skill development courses to upskilling India

Swati Mujumdar, pro-chancellor, elaborates on current scenario, new courses and opportunities in skills sector

pune Updated: Jun 29, 2018 17:41 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Swati Mujumdar at Symbiosis Kiwale campus on Tuesday.
Swati Mujumdar at Symbiosis Kiwale campus on Tuesday.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

Harnessing a vision to upskill the youth, Symbiosis Skills and Open University (SSOU), Kiwale is all set to introduce three new professional skill development courses in Blockchain technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics, in the next academic year. Speaking to Hindustan Times, pro-chancellor of SSOU, Swati Mujumdar elaborated on the current scenario, new courses and opportunities in the skills sector of the country.

With SSOU completing a year, what are the biggest achievements?

The achievements till now have been in-line with the goals that we had set in the beginning. We wanted to bring about a substantial transformation in the teaching-learning pedagogy by bringing in more practicals, hands-on training and skill development, which we have successfully accomplished. For every course, the faculty member ensures that more than 70 per cent of time is spent on gaining practical experience. Our courses are continuously updated as per the industry needs, making them relevant at all times. This was another point that we wanted to achieve. Also, over this period we wanted to earn the faith of students in this model, which is still new to India. Fortunately, we have broken the ice.

How has the university been able to establish the idea of full-time degree courses in skill development as opposed to the belief that these can be only part-time or additional courses?

It has been a challenge to burst the bubble. It is difficult to change the mindset, of not just students, but also the parents and teachers. There are misconceptions about skill development courses being a low-level career choice and that one may not be able to earn a good salary after completing the course.Many teachers also believe that skills is different from education. While education is a privilege, skills is something people go for as a last option only to earn a living, an idea that we had to continuously fight with. But, these are myths that we have tried to dismantle and have done so, to some extent. In reality, skills are a part of any discipline whatsoever, especially when you think professionally. And, looking at the current scenario, skills has become a necessity. Hence, in a year, we have established that there can be full-fledged skill development courses with a bright future, in terms of placements and financial stability. We have begun the change.

Any new courses that you are planning to introduce?

Yes. Our courses are designed keeping in mind the industry needs, with contribution from their representatives, and this year we found a need for professionals skilled in IT sector. And, so we will be introducing high-end courses in the IT sector, specifically courses in Blockchain technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics. Also, we are planning to start a Finishing Skills school here at the campus. This will ensure that students after being trained in their respective skill specialisation, are also job ready. Even short pre-joining courses will be rolled out which will help them be productive from day 1 of joining their respective jobs.

What is the placement scenario this year, and, the salaries that students can expect?

As this is just the first year, placements will take time. But, for short-term certificate courses there has been a good response, with almost the entire batch being placed. In terms of placements, we have realised that the industry is looking for multiple skills in possible recruits, and so the instruction in the curriculum is also designed that way. In case of the salaries, we expect it to be no less than what students from conventional professional courses receive. Even students from our certificate courses have been able to good salaries. Another advantage of having skills, is personal growth, that is entrepreneurship. So,every module of all the courses has entrepreneurship in its curriculum.

Where does a skill university find itself in the drive by the government’s National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) to create a National Skills Data Platform?

We have been the game-changers in the Skills sector and educational institutions have a huge role to play in establishing a bank of skilled youth. But, unfortunately the government’s National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) has not included us. Although their representatives did visit us a couple of times, they are yet to recognise our contribution. The truth is, as one of the few education institutes in the sector, we actually know the pulse of the situation, and this exclusion will devoid them of our valuable inputs. Sadly, in this bureaucracy, there is still a lot work to be done in the skills sector from recognising its challenges to finding substantial solutions, and all that cannot be done behind closed doors. Unless, the government includes educational institutions, their knowledge on the matter will be incomplete and flawed.

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 17:32 IST

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