Friday, June 17, 2011

IIM Shillong goes local to groom youth from north eastern region

The newest Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in the country, IIM-Shillong, has gone local. In 2009, the coveted B-school in the eastern Himalayas had started the Centre for Development of the North Eastern Region (CEDNER ), to pilot ambitious projects that would spearhead development in the region.

Now, a part of that, it has taken up the task of organising training programmes for managers, executives and defence personnel who live and work here, besides providing consultancy for local firms. The centre is involved in organising both short and long-term programmes that would benefit local communities.

CEDNER, was formerly known as the Accelerated Learning Centre (ALC), was set up a year after IIM-Shillong itself came into existence. There are now plans to have this institute branch out to parts of Assam, Mizoram and Nagaland. Ashoke K. Dutta, Director of IIM-Shillong, says setting up of the centre provides the 'strategic intervention' the region required, and that the institute itself would not operate merely like an island of excellence. "We were very clear that we needed to do something about the hopes and aspirations of the local people," he says. "Otherwise, what are they to do with an IIM?"

The courses offered include management programmes for local retailers, armed forces personnel (of which there are quite a few here), principal of local colleges and hospital staff. The centre also aims to provide capacity building for local NGOs and sick public sector units in the region. To bring local talent up to speed, the institute also plans to offer courses relating to sports management, entrepreneurship and managing family businesses. "We have devised courses for Meghalaya tourism and the Meghalaya Cement Corporation," says Dutta.

"For courses under CEDNER, our faculty does not charge anything. For instance, the course fee for the short-term retail management programme was Rs. 6,000, and the faculty put in extra effort to take classes in the evening. After the course, the students were hired by Pantaloons in Guwahati." For some of the courses, the minimum qualification is a Plus Two or Class XII-level education, and in last two years, the centre has trained at least 275 youngsters through 15 different courses. Professor Keya Sengupta, who heads the centre, says local people, who may otherwise not have access and exposure to the latest methods of training for skill development, are provided the same by the institute. The idea, she adds, is to respond to local needs and make the facilities of the institute, available for the training of local talent.

Among the challenges faced by the centre was to integrate a complex set of socio-economic and environmental factors typical of the Northeast region, with worldclass training facilities that would bring out the hidden talent, skills and capabilities of the local youngsters. So far, the centre appears to have been somewhat successful, given that its programs are much in demand. For instance, Assam Hospitals, which manages several hospitals in Guwahati, has sought IIM-Shillong's advice and consultancy on the human resources set-up in hospitals.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), June 17, 2011

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