From baby steps to big strides! Thus reads the tale of the Chandigarh Training on Soft Skills (C-TOSS), a major initiative of the UT Administration which aims at raising a skilled workforce from among the youth, and aligning their talent with the needs of industry. Seeking to mix academics with such soft skills as computer and communication, the UT scheme has all the ingredients a success story needs to be scripted.
Launched initially in six government schools in 2004, C-TOSS imparted soft skills to 900 students at the cost of Rs 2.5 lakh in the year of the launch. In 2008-09, it brought under its ambit 48 government schools and trained 12,056 students at the cost of Rs 107.92 lakh. And up to December, 2009, the scheme had spread its cover over more than eight colleges and 55 government schools in Chandigarh.
“Most students would study for the sake of studying, unclear about their future. This threw up a workforce which had knowledge but was devoid of skills. We needed to mix academics with skills, something C-TOSS has been designed for. This is the right approach, and it alone can help bridge the demand-supply gap in industry,” said Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Finance Secretary, UT Administration.
By the end of December, 2009, C-TOSS had trained 11,222 students in software and communication skills and the UT Administration had spent Rs 72 lakh on the project. “Since its launch in 2004, the programme has trained more than 43,000 students in software and English-speaking skills, making available to industry ready-for-the-job workforce which meets its needs and demands”, disclosed Mr. Manjit Singh Brar, Director IT, Chandigarh.
“We aim at transforming Chandigarh from an ‘IT capital’ of the country to an ‘IT intellect capital’ of the country. C-TOSS thrives on the demographic advantage, but without soft skills, it can turn into a huge disadvantage,” remarked Mr. Brar.
In 2007, the Chandigarh Administration brought the under-privileged and minority students under the ambit of C-TOSS to impart them soft skills through effective use of technology. A centre has been set up for the purpose under the supervision of the Indian Council for Child Welfare, UT Branch, Chandigarh, at Bal Bhavan in Sector 23, in association with the United Progressive Muslim Front to enable the students to enhance their proficiency in English language.
“Initially, students are trained to improve their basic english level and thereafter they are upgraded to the C-TOSS school programme,” said Mrs. Tejinder Bajwa, Computer Instructor at Bal Bhavan. Since the launch of the programme in 2007, as many as 36 batches of students belonging to the underprivileged and minority community, have been trained in software and hardware skills. These include 30 batches in English communication skills.
About 50 trainees of the centre have already got employment. The UT Administration had spent Rs 11.5 lakh on the training of underprivileged students up to December, 2009.