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Teaching work ethics to Indian BPO employees
Arvinder Kaur in New Delhi
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December 11, 2006 11:54 IST

Laxity at work and lack of responsibility have often been cited as major drawbacks of call centre workers in India, but now an Indian-American plans to teach BPO (business process outsourcing) employees a thing or two about work ethics and delivering quality.

Payal Tak, CEO of Telesis Corporation a United States-based company providing information technology services to the US government, plans to start academic courses for call centre employees in association with the University of Maryland and the Indraprastha University in New Delhi.

"India boasts of the youngest workforce in the world, but little is being realised that most of them are just school passouts, who have no specialisation, no training on work ethics or delivering quality," says Tak, who was here as part of the US trade mission.

"Though work culture is there, there is need to instill basic responsibility for the work. They need to take ownership at work, a trait, found lacking by most Americans while speaking to call centre employees here. But to accomplish this, on-the-job academic training has to be strengthened, says Tak, an NRI, who migrated from Jalandhar to US in 1986 and set up Telesis in 1998.

"India will run out of outsourcing work if it stops delivering quality," she says.

"We are looking at starting a two-year associate degree affiliated course for the Indian BPO sector employees. For this, talks are already going on with IP University. The course module and trainers would all come from University of Maryland and Montgomery College, who would teach the trainers here and they in turn can teach these employees," Tak says.

"There would also be short-term courses on work ethics and handling complaints. Say if a call centre relates to handling automotive complaints, the employees taking the call should know all about how to reach the problem in the midnight. Thus giving them basic knowledge of automotive technologies becomes important. It is these specialised training which call centre employees here lack and from which spring up the non-satisfaction among the callers."

"Once the training module is finalised for Delhi and NCR, we plan to move to Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, small towns like Jalandhar and Phagwara," says Tak.

"But we have been told that for starting a course here, clearance will have to be taken from every state chief minister separately and lot of red tape issues would be involved, she rues.

The Montgomeri College has earlier also designed customised modules for us earlier also, and they could do so now also in two months time, provided we get clearance from the government.

Stressing on the need for such courses, Tak says, "There is lot of training needed for those in outsourcing of documentation work, the stenographers and also the low tech work. There is tremendous demand of workforce and India is likely to fall short of trained manpower if they are not properly trained," she says.

Though a number of fly-by-night operators have set up training centres for the call centre industry, they do not have any certified training module, she says.

Tak, who provides system integration services to the US government, says she is also looking at helping the Indian government in records management and training, besides providing support services for healthcare and financial institutions.

Many American companies are already entering into these areas as India is a very lucrative market and full of promises. "It is not reverse outsourcing. We would be creating work for Indians in their own country."

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