As the world is shrinking with the advent of new communication technologies, corporates in India are tapping the expertise of English language institutes to enhance the communication skills of their employees to meet global requirements.
Head Examination Service (South India) of British Council Keshav Sreedharan says there is a huge demand from corporates for developing the communication skills of their employees. “Indians are capable and intelligent. But when it comes to communication, most of the Indian workforce is in a level below the required communication skills globally,” he says.
Firms like Williams Lea, a UK-based global BPO company focusing on delivering business information and high-end marketing services in both print and digital formats, offer in-house training programmes for their employees.
Its Human Resources Director Aarthi Rajaraman says, “The Williams Lea Academy provides a framework for developing people capabilities. One of the key areas we focus on at all levels, from entry to leadership, is effective communication. For entry-level employees, there is a 90-hour program called English Express, which aims at improving their communication skills in English. For first time managers, there are workshops on team communications and for leaders we have interventions to help them hone their communication skills.”
Interestingly, many of the English-coaching institutes are structuring the courses as per the need of their clients “The courses vary as per the needs of the industry be it the BPO, banks or educational institutes,” says Sreedharan.
British Council’s Corporate Training services provides a comprehensive portfolio of training solutions to help businessmen achieve and sustain a competitive edge. “We have internationally qualified training team with extensive experience of designing and delivering business and skills training across India,” he says.
Firms like Stanchart, HSBC and Ford Motors have been utilising the expertise of British Council in improving their employees’ communication skills. British Council is also conducting tests to assess the abilities and the skills of the employees. Sreedharan says British Council is offering Aptis, a business-to-business English assessment service, to organisations to test the skills of the workforce.
“Aptis is a flexible and adaptable English test for adults, which can be used to assess one’s ability in all four skills — speaking, listening, reading and writing. It can also be customised to test one or more specific skills, which allows organisations to test the skills relevant to their needs. The content of Aptis can be adapted to suit a specific profession and customised for specific cultural contexts,” he adds.
Not just British Council, many other institutes such as Pearson, Cambridge are also vying to have a share in the pie worth millions of dollars.
Industry sources say that the demand for testing and assessment of English language skills is estimated to be more than $2 million in South India.
And what is more, corporate firms are now allotting an average two per cent of their budget on enhancing the skills of the workforce.
British Council has also tied up with governments to enhance the skills of the teachers. Paul sellers, British Council Director, South India, says that the institute has been training corporation school teachers. “We have collaborated with the Chief Minister’s office as well to facilitate scholars to go to United Kingdom to study for a semester in a British institute,” he says.