He is a Master's degree holder in English Literature, but interviews are a nightmare for him as poor standards of English have kept hampering his chances of landing a better job. Many aspiring engineers, who have cleared B.Tech and M.Tech examinations with flying colours, too face the same problem. It adversely affects their chances during placements, since they are not able to communicate their ideas effectively.
Taking note of this serious issue confronted by a large section of youth in the State who remain unemployed despite having high levels of education, K. M. Abraham, the then Principal Secretary of the Department of Higher Education, chalked out a project to enhance their employability skills and soft skills.
Though there were opposition from various quarters, he formed a new team under him and launched the new project christened ‘the Additional Skill Acquisition Programme’ (ASAP) in 2012 to help higher secondary and undergraduate students dream big.
Honing communication, IT skills
The Foundation Courses consist of two modules on communication skills in English and Information Technology. The authorities did not approach English language teachers in colleges to conduct classes, instead, those who use the language for the everyday life conversations, such as doctors and other professionals, were roped in to improve the students’ communication skills. In the first phase, the professionals were trained to conduct classes. After a filtration process, they were appointed as part-time trainers for equipping the youth with English language skills to compete in the employment market.
Instead of going deep into the grammatical characteristics and linguistic theories, the trainers were instructed to teach them common words and phrases that we use in our daily conversation.
The training under ASAP has been designed in a way that it does not disturb the regular academic schedules. The one-hour classes are conducted before and after the classes in the morning and in the evening. The skill-based courses are offered on Saturdays and Sundays. Currently, there are as many as 160 Skill Development Centres in the State wwhere students from different institutions can assemble for the classes.
Arrangements have also been made to undergo short-term industrial internships during the summer vacation. Last week, as many as 13,000 students, who were part of the first batch, successfully completed the course. The second batch of 23,000 students are also nearing course completion.
Over 1,000 centres
Realising the potential of the ASAP students, manufacturing sector and industries have come forward to provide employment opportunities to them. Since it is a need-based training programme, the syllabus was being prepared in consultation with the institutions in the manufacturing sector and major industries. A team with expertise in the competitive market such as trainers representing major business houses like Bosch was part of the programme.
As many as 1,065 educational institutions in the State are now covered under ASAP.
Training centres under ASAP would be launched in schools and schools that wanted its students to be brought under the initiative. The ASAP team would visit the institutions and the students would be required to fill the forms for getting themselves enrolled for the course of their choice.
At present, ASAP is offered to college and higher secondary students. The students will have an additional certificate when they successfully complete their school/college education, which would definitely improve the overall employability. The main objective of the scheme is developing skills and productive capacity of the rural youth from socially and financially backward families apart from helping them boost their confidence and self-esteem.
The students can select from as many as 93 courses for skill development, including accounting technician, global business foundation skills, junior correspondent, mobile communication, optical fibre communication, PC hardware and networking, printing technology, dental assistant, junior rubber technician, PCB manufacturing, mutual fund agent, fund office operations, customer care executive, BPO (non-voice) etc.
The partner organisations and companies include Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies), BSNL, Indian Dental Association, National Stock Exchange, Kerala Media Academy, government polytechnics, Aptech, iNurture, EduBridge, and Bosch Rexroth.
The authorities are now aiming to set up 30 community skill parks to take up round-the-clock skill enhancement activities.
For more details about the programme and courses offered, click here.
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