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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

Pune on my mind: Pursuing a new skills agenda for Pune, says Ganesh Natarajan

We are investing in ideas, people and digital technologies that can transform the city and make it truly a benchmark for growth and high aspirations and capabilities of its citizens.

pune Updated: Jun 28, 2019 16:33 IST
Ganesh Natarajan
Ganesh Natarajan
Hindustan Times, Pune
Ganesh Natarajan, chairman,  5F World, Pune City Connect and SVP India.
Ganesh Natarajan, chairman, 5F World, Pune City Connect and SVP India.(HT)

Pune has been on my mind since 1991, when as CEO of APTECH the global training major, we chose to make the city one of our main forts for launching our thrust for market leadership in computer training.

The focus on Pune got strengthened in 2001, when I moved to the city to take over the reins of a fledgling software business, Zensar Technologies and assembled a leadership team in the city that took it to market leadership and industry beating growth in shareholder value by 2015 with a strong focus on innovation and the triple bottom lines of profits, people and planet.

And Pune today is truly a “karmbhoomi” where we at 5F World, Global Talent Track and Pune City Connect are investing in ideas, people and digital technologies that can transform the city and make it truly a benchmark for growth and high aspirations and capabilities of its citizens.

We have been fortunate in our city to have a legacy of excellent education and manufacturing institutions, which has led to a large pool of manpower emerging from well reputed institutions, many of whom have found good jobs in Tata, Mahindra, Bajaj and many multinational engineering firms. The extraordinary growth of the IT and Business Process industries in the city and the rise of financial services and scientific research firms have also provided ample job opportunities for motivated youth from the city and migrants from outside Pune.

However, the malaise that prevails all over the country, where graduates of engineering and other disciplines find their training inadequate for the demands of the new work environment prevails in Pune too and our work in the city has been focused on helping to bridge the skills gaps and truly enhancing employability in the city.

For the services sector, we have researched and set up programmes that give both employees and graduates the hard skills in new job skills, enabling digital technologies and the soft skills of communications, storytelling, team working and leadership that are so essential for corporate success. The recent launch of programmes in Artificial Intelligence, Digital Data Engineering and Data Sciences and Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics have brought practitioners in this field from the US, Europe and Japan to train the ambitious youth of the city and prepare them for the best jobs in the city and elsewhere in the country and the world.

Equipping many colleges with AI-based smart learning platforms has also enabled ambitious institutions to co-create talent with us and enable their students and graduates to access a variety of “best in class” curricula and learning content that truly prepare them to be world leaders in new age skills.

Conscious of the fact that a large percentage of youth in the city live in slums and do not have access to quality education, city-wide digital empowerment and skills initiatives have been launched by Pune City Connect, through a unique and successful Public Private Partnership with Pune Municipal Corporation, which is a true exemplar in demonstrating success in the area of equity and inclusion in the social sector.

Deploying Google Maps to track every citizen across the fifteen municipal wards of the city, the nationally and globally recognized Skills Lighthouses are generating amazing results.

Their well-researched and fine-tuned processes transform slum youth who are brought in through community outreach and enrolment, motivated with a forty-hour foundation course that provides a safe space, builds self-image, resilience and market understanding, supports every dream and counsels them to choose vocations that align with their aptitude.

Skills are delivered through thoughtfully curated classroom and technology interventions and finally engagement with the youth is sustained through placement or entrepreneurship opportunities and alumni interactions and ongoing mentoring. Employability and good citizenship values in over two hundred thousand households is what we see as the opportunity.

In our commitment to skills and our investments in globally relevant methodologies, technologies and pedagogies, we are setting up these platforms and supporting them with committed partners from the corporate sector, individual philanthropists from Social Venture Partners and the Rotary Clubs, multiple participants from civil society, volunteers and of course an extremely supportive local Government.

We have already touched over a million lives in the country through our skills initiatives for all demographic segments of society and Pune itself has the potential to sustain a million livelihoods by 2022.

“Sampoorna” Pune is how we define our tryst with a local, national and global destiny for every citizen of Pune and we are committed to making it happen. You are welcome to join us on this mission.

My earliest memories of Pune: Staying in Rasik lodge and then Nandanvan in the eighties and wondering during that time why it was such a small town.

State of Pune today: Pune is getting overcrowded and people are sometimes rude, but I am hopeful that good public private partnerships like we see in SVP and Pune City Connect will keep the mood of the city positive.

One change that I want to see: No cynicism and each citizen working towards a “Sampoorna Pune”.

First Published: Jun 28, 2019 16:31 IST

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