Going the rural way
Companies are looking at the rural job market to tap the
hidden talent pool. Renuka Vembu ascertains the causes which have led
to this, and the benefits arising out of it
is said that there are two drastically different segments of population residing
in Indiaone comprising the urban, elite, working-class of people, and
the other, the rural masses, who constitute the majority. It is also said that
the true judge of globalization and economic development is when it makes an
impact on people at the grassroot level. With the dearth of the IT talent pool
growing by the day and the shortfall rising to an alarming rate, companies are
now looking beyond the metros to tap the requisite talent and bridge the rural-urban
Companies and their programs
Companies are tying up with educational institutes or even
working in collaboration with local state governments, to identify the hidden
talent amongst students. While Fujitsu Consulting India Private Limited (FCIPL)
focuses on class B cities like Chattisgarh, Punjab, Jaipur and Bhopal, Geometric
is going into the interiors of Maharashtra, and Gujarat to scout for engineering
graduates, and HTMT Global Solutions has its presence in Durgapur and Mysore.
Patrick David, Executive Vice-president, Global Human Resources Strategy, HTMT
Global Solutions, explained, Based on our business delivery model we will
explore locations that closely align to optimal delivery for our customers.
In addition, we look at the availability of skilled talent in that location.
Partnerships with colleges are dependant on how closely the skills of the students
map to our delivery requirements. The bottom line is finding the right job/skill
Cisco has a more detailed structure in place. Their Cisco
Networking Academy runs its education program in 167 countries and in over 100
cities in India alone. These target places like Tura (Meghalaya), Pudukkottai,
Nazareth, Krishnankoil and Namakkal (Tamil Nadu), Mullana and Israna (Haryana),
Badshahithaul, Tehri, Garhwal and Uttarkashi (Uttaranchal), Ferozepur and
Phagwara (Punjab) and Changa and Patan (Gujarat). In addition to this,
they have signed
an MOU with the Rajasthan Government under the Rajasthan Education Initiative
whereby they are involved in accelerating IT education (hardware and computer
trouble shooting course, concepts in TCP/IP processes, etc.) for teachers and
secondary school students in 32 Government District Computer Educations Centers
(DCEC) across the state. Some of the districts which are being taken up are
remote areas like Jhalawar, Pali, Jalore, and Dausa. They also have dedicated
project managers in states, provide free online curriculum, Web-based learner
management system and 24x7 help desk support.
Assessing the rural workforce
educational system has diversified geographically in greater measure than
talent absorption mechanisms. Therefore, a concerted effort to target
these towns with relevant education institutes will help to bridge the
resource crunch faced by the industry"
- Rajiv Singh
Vice-president, Human Resources, Geometric
critical success factor for any public-private partnership requires every
partner to contribute equally to scale and ramp from a pilot to
large scale initiative"
- Lokesh Mehra
Regional Manager Corporate Responsibility, Cisco South Asia
It is a unanimous voice that the rural workforce is not second,
in any way, to the urban candidates. If anything, it is lack of awareness and
opportunity to get to the top, and make use of the available options. Also,
they match the knowledge and skill-sets; whereas they might need a bit of polishing
when it comes to language, communication skills, and etiquettes. In short, while
they have a clear understanding of the work and are adept at process knowledge,
only the softer aspects need to be made familiar with.
In an attempt to prove themselves to make it big coming from
the smaller towns, they have a zeal, passion and determination to prove themselves
against all odds. From here stems the fact that they are more dedicated and
loyal to the work and the company, because they are have an additional responsibility
and a point to prove in the social circle. With the cost factor in the big cities
going up, companies also feel the need to look at different places and go the
rural way, so that it gives them an opening to cut down on costs and comparatively
also a long-term employee commitment.
Anagha Wankar, Group Manager, HR, FCIPL, asserted, It
has been our experience that the commitment levels of associates coming from
these backgrounds are much higher. They have an inner fire to prove themselves
and hence work with a single mindedness of wanting to achieve the best. These
associates are no less than any of the other associates. What may be different
are the language skills and business etiquettes which are trainable gaps.
Lokesh Mehra, Regional Manager Corporate Responsibility,
Cisco South Asia, stated, Majority of the students in rural areas go by
hearsay and trends and are not aware of the opportunities in the networking
industry or sector. Software is still a buzz while other sectors like networking
and animation which are growing faster are ignored. As information slowly
percolates to the rural areas, people would realize the benefits of aligning
with these growing fields as well as the lower hierarchy chains required
to get promoted in such industries.
Bridging the gap
Giving opportunities to the rural talent uplifts individuals from their status
level, empowers them and paves the way for socio-economic development. It aids
companies to bridge the gap between the urban-rural divide, and also acts as
a part of their corporate social responsibility program.
Rajiv Singh, Vice-president, Human Resources, Geometric, explained, Urban
talent has good access to job opportunities with the development and widespread
deployment of the recruitment processes in India. We believe that such access
is not as easily available to candidates from smaller towns. This move will
essentially increase our access to engineering talent. Ironically, the educational
system has diversified geographically in greater measure than talent absorption
mechanisms. Therefore, a concerted effort to target these towns with relevant
education institutes will help to bridge the resource crunch faced by the industry.
The plus points
For an industry as a whole, initiations by companies into tapping the rural
talent pool will help galvanize a movement that will bring to the fore the entire
hidden workforce. Organizations will have a larger pool of people to work with,
and can leverage from the best of the lot. Rural people can work on par with
the urban class, and the divide can thus be blurred.
Cisco listed the impact that their engagements would make at the grassroot level.
- Enabling students to learn through e-learning environments,
anytime, anywhere at their own pace, and with more targeted assessments and
accountability than traditional classroom setup.
- Exposure to latest trends and technologies making
students technically proficient and empowering them to realize their true
- Getting them to become IT literate, strengthening
their confidence to take giant strides and make their presence felt in the
Mehra added, The critical success factor for any public-private partnership
requires every partner to contribute equally to scale and ramp from a pilot
to large scale initiative. The governments role in this area will be to
ensure adequate infrastructure exists, incentives for participants, providing
guidance and support as well as branding such successes.
Singh summarized, First, well be able to ensure that our talent
fulfillment is efficient. Second, well be able to create a culturally
diversified employee base, which is highly recommended in these times. We do
not wish to create a city-driven cultural environment because we dont
believe that necessarily expresses the most optimal environment for the development
of our employees.
With more organizations realizing the significance of going to the interiors
of the country to tap local talent, it will herald in greater opportunities
where it is needed the most.