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Category: Product Mgmt

Feb 28 2008

The Applied Knowledge Gap in India

(Chart) – data showing a dramatic gap in knowledge taught at Indian universities versus the knowledge generated by India’s private sector over time.

In the summer of 2006, I was on a business development trip through Asia and spent a week in India meeting C-level executives from the Indian ICT industry including people from InfoSys and Wipro – two of India’s biggest and most successful companies. What I learned on that trip was illuminating on many levels. Just recently I am reminded of them again.

I have been following Anne Blouin’s posts on the ASAE and Center’s Acronym blog on the study mission to India. In her post she shared some interesting facts about India which I would like to highlight and amplify.

“The role of education and its globalization is assuming an increased role and significance
In India.

People with a high school certificate number 250 million, with 10 million getting a BS degree.

IIT receives 300,000 applicants and accepts only 5,000. However, 400,000 graduate each year with degrees in engineering and science (more than the population of New Zealand). There has been a much greater focus in the last few years on research and on innovation and creativity.

Industries are becoming proponents of partnerships with universities; universities are also working to build international collaborations with exchange of faculty and students, research centers, and joint degree programs.”

All of this is certainly true, but needs some further elaboration.

“The role of education and its globalization” is indeed increasingly more significant. The key to understand is where the growth is coming.

The non-formal education sector is huge in India (as well as China, SE Asia, and Africa). Think “technical schools meet computer learning centers” and you can get a feel for companies like APTECH who is one of the leaders in marketshare in India and China. When you don’t have very good infrastructure you create “high tech centers for learning” where all kinds of people can go from students to white collar professionals. Get to know the non-formal education sector and its players.

“400,000 graduate each year with degrees in engineering and science”…. another truth but there is more to the story. I learned from Kiran Karnik, President of NASSCOM (India’s leading ICT association) that India’s university system has fallen behind its private sector (see chart above).

Indian business executives confirm that even graduates from the top schools do not come prepared for the “real world” that globalization has brought to India. Many are not employable without significant further training. Why? Because the Indian university system is well behind its private sector in teaching knowledge and practice.

Which helps to explain “industries are becoming proponents of partnerships with universities.” They have no choice. Schools are way behind in teaching. Companies like InfoSys and Wipro spend millions of dollars a year running their own “private schools” where they send thousands of applicants from top schools for further training. The wash out rate is around 90%!! Can you imagine the constant need for locating quality talent but failing to find it even after they go through 12 weeks of corporate training?

Amazingly, the brainpower shortfall is so urgent that well known business process outsourcing companies actually outsource work to other SE Asian countries because they can’t deploy enough project-ready assets with any reliability.

Bottomline

This is an opportunity for associations with good training and certification programs.

The challenge is finding the right local partners to help manage, sell, and protect your IP. In addition, you’ll need to consider product pricing adjustments unless your product has the “gold standard” moniker. Typically, you can tell that by whether Indian business executives are familiar with your certification. If international corporate clients demand their professionals have a certification in order to be included in a project, you are half way home.