The ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu (ICTACT) is a partnership between the Indian Government, the state of Tamil Nadu, the not-for-profit Confederation of Indian Industry, and professional consultancies. It educates the region’s students so they can get jobs in ICT’s well-paying outsourcing industry, whose members include Tata and Cognizant. The industry is valued at US$70 billion a year.
The not-for-profit educator has 50,000 students across Tamil Nadu, on the south-east tip of India. It works with secondary schools and colleges to improve the computer science knowledge of teachers and students and increase the number of IT professionals with industry-led technical and business skills. ICTACT also works to overcome the lack of reliable broadband services that makes it difficult for rural learners to undertake training that will lift them out of poverty.
According to ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu CEO M. Sivakumar, Oracle was chosen because its learning materials integrate interpersonal and business skills with technical training in those areas in demand by the global outsourcing industry.
“At most colleges, students don’t learn the fundamental basics of computer science and soft skills, such as communication and how to relate to others,” said Sivakumar. “They just teach Oracle as a database tool, so there’s a big training gap in the industry.”
He added that the education institution chose Oracle Academy curricula because of Oracle’s dominance in database and business information systems.
“Most Indian companies are developing their applications in Java and want workers with basic computing and database competency. This program focuses strongly on developing that,” he said.
Sivakumar said those who graduate with Oracle certifications could expect to earn US$550 (30,000 INR) a month, compared to someone in a similar role without the qualifications who may earn about US$220 (12,000 INR).
Oracle Academy’s Introduction to Computer Science course is being offered to more than 200 colleges in the state of Tamil Nadu, training 162 teachers to help their students make a smooth transition into an IT career
The first students, mostly teachers who will deliver the curriculum in 2013, sat down to the Oracle Academy introductory computer science classes within eight weeks of ICTACT initiating a partnership with Oracle. On completion of the 10-week course, they graduated to the advanced curriculum.
Graduates who further their Oracle certifications have their pick of careers in computer science, engineering, and business. These provide pathways to additional Oracle qualifications, which will secure them even better wages.
The Oracle Academy courses are mostly delivered online, but poor broadband in Tamil Nadu required ICTACT to adapt the curriculum for more in-class delivery. It will move to mostly e-learning by 2015, as connectivity improves.
In addition to this initiative, in January 2013 ICTACT started its I-Mentor program, consisting of 25 colleges mentoring 75 schools, laying a pipeline of skilled IT graduates within the education system and awakening and deepening their early interest in computer science and engineering.