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BPO firms take staff back to school

By Rumi Dutta, S Ravindran in Mumbai
August 16, 2003 08:19 IST
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Employees of business process outsourcing companies are heading back to school.

Faced with attrition levels of 30-40 per cent every year, BPO firms are tying up with management institutes and infotech education centres to upgrade the skills of their employees, in an attempt to retain talent.

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A V Birla group company Transworks has tied up with Mumbai's Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and the Institute of Chartered & Financial Analysts of India.

Sitel India, in which the Tata group has a substantial stake, has tied up with Mumbai's L N Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research.

"This is a new trend where corporates are trying to outsource their recruitment and training. We are in talks with a couple of call centres to help them in these activities," Pramod Khera, CEO and managing director of infotech training institute Aptech, said.

The Narsee Monjee and Welingkar institutes are offering management courses that will cater to the specific needs of the BPO industry.

Prakash Gurbaxani, CEO, TransWorks, said: "BPO jobs usually attract young people. Most the employees in a BPO organisation are at a stage when they wish to take up higher education along with their jobs.

"This results in attrition rates being high as employees are not able to cope with time or work pressures. We are creating a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee by offering such benefits."

Transworks has structured office timings in a way that employees can juggle a career along with higher studies. Further, the company might also reimburse a part of the course fees.

"We want to reward our star performers and create a talent pool. This will also help in upgrading employee skills and curbing attrition," said Shailaja Puranik, COO of Sitel India.

Apart from Sitel, Welingkar has also tied up with GTL although a formal deal is yet to be signed.

"The course is designed to benefit both the corporate and employee as these post-graduate programmes in management studies are tailor-made, keeping the specific needs of the BPO industry and the company in mind. Yet the course will have all the inherent features of an MBA programme," Uday Salunkhe, principal of N Welingkar, said.

Each batch consists of 30-35 students selected through joint admission procedures by Sitel and Welingkar. The duration of the course is two years, or 109 days, and the courses will be conducted at the Sitel premises on weekends.

Three semesters of the course will be conducted at Sitel and the final semester at Welingkar. All course-related projects will be done internally at Sitel.

The employees will get a PGPMS certificate at the end of the course. The institute also offers an online module, which enables students to interact with faculty and get study material.

These efforts will be finally judged by whether the attrition level falls in the sunrise BPO industry.

The proof of the pudding lies clearly in the eating. Right now, though, it is earn and learn for BPO employees.
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Rumi Dutta, S Ravindran in Mumbai

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