Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Low-cost IT training boosts education tourism

Mr. Wayne Nelson, an IT professional from Liverpool with 15 years of experience, has travelled to New Delhi for training and certification in Cisco systems. Mr. Matus Vido of Slovakia and Mr. Charles Burr of Virginia are also in town to get trained in similar IT systems by qualified Indian trainers. These people are part of an increasing trend of what is begin called off-shoring of education or education tourism.

The trend is slowly picking up with 100 players offering IT offshore training in India. Companies such as Coca Cola Bottling, ING Amsterdam, Etisalat, UNDP, McKinsey and Microsoft are sending their employees for short-term training and qualifications in IT systems — including Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Linux, Java — to India.

Cost advantage is a big reason why international companies are making a beeline for India, according to Mr. Rohit Aggarwal, Co-founder and Director of Koenig Solutions Pvt. Ltd. For instance, a student has to shell out €5,000 for a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer course in Europe, whereas the same course would cost €2,250 including training charges, course material, travel, and accommodation for a international student coming to India. "The huge cost advantage, along with one-on-one personalised training, which is rare or simply too expensive abroad, draws the students and companies to India," says Mr. Aggarwal.

Koenig trains more than 200 international students a month at its centres in Delhi, Dehradun, Goa and Shimla. The dotcom bust triggered Koenig's shift from domestic to off-shore international training. The move has paid off – as revenues have upped from less than US$ 100,000 in 2002 to US$ 7 million in 2010.

Mr. Aggarwal estimates the off-shore training market will cross US$ 1 billion in the next few years from the current US$ 30 million. He claims Koenig commands 25 per cent of the market share and has plans for an initial public offering in 2014. As prices in offshore training fall, he said, the industry will take off and mature in four to five years. "There are several small players in the industry and collaboration rather than competition within the industry will help grow the pie," says the Director of Koenig. "Going forward, there may be a need for a uniform quality standard."

To grow the market further, it is important to package the education programme with travel related assistance, he said. Koenig plans to start centres in Bangalore, Kerala, Sikkim and a near-shore centre in Dubai this year. It is also in talks with Mongolian and Rwandan governments to set up local centres powered by Indian trainers. The company has an arrangement with the Belgian and the Dutch governments who send their unemployed youth to Koenig in India for training.

Source: Business Line, April 13, 2011

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