CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu’s ICT Academy - a not-for-profit initiative of the Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu and the Industry, has been singled out as one model for skills training that has been recommended for expansion across the country. The Sub-Group of Chief Ministers for Skill Development, formed following the first meeting of NITI Aayog has listed the academy and its model as one of the best practices of states that need to be disseminated and replicated.
Taking note of the success of the initiative in training skills trainers in both the State of its constitution and the 12 other states it now has presences in, the final report of the Sub-Group has recommended that the initiative itself be expanded across the country - unlike the other initiatives recommended from other states.
“Instead of replicating an ICT Academy in each State, the existing and established organization (ICTACT) can open chapters or branches in all willing states, where local administration can be represented, for carrying on its activities,” the Sub-Group stated in its recommendation. It has also pointed out that the Department of Information and Technology (DIT) should urge the private IT sector - a major consumer of HR resources generated by ICTACT, to contribute to its functioning.
“A strong corpus will ensure viability over time, and sustainability even in difficult times,” stated the report. Speaking to the Express, M Sivakumar, CEO of ICT Academy of Tamilnadu, said that the initiative had come a long way from its humble beginnings. “We are a not-for-profit under the TN Societies Act formed in 2009 and initially, we began with a GoI grant for the first three years to train 5,000 higher education teachers in Information and Communications Technologies(ICT). But we decided that by the end of the three years, we will be a self-sustaining organisation and that is what we have achieved,” said Sivakumar. ICTACT has not received any grants from any government department since that first grant of `6 crore.
“Our relationship with them is now more akin to what one would have with a customer,” said Sivakumar.
ICTACT is governed by a Board of Governors with representatives of Tamil Nadu government and the industry. The current avatar of the ICTACT has gone far beyond training the 5,000 teachers in ICT. So far, the organisation has trained 13,000 teachers, runs several projects - for both the GoI and the GoTN and has collaborations where they provide training in 10 Nodal Universities, 279 Engineering College, 145 Arts & Science College and 64 schools. It also has MoUs with several industry leaders, including Microsoft, Inteland Oracle. It is also present in 12 states.
“We have been expanding and the Sub-Group’s recommendation is something we can do, easily. Spreading geographically can be done and it is in our plans. But we are looking at expanding in a different way. We want to spread deeper, not just wider. We are looking at how to expand technologically - in ITIs, Polytechnic colleges and rural areas. There is so much more we need to do. This is how we want to expand,” said Sivakumar.