|Training World View: Focus on India|
By Catherine Mercer Bing and Pradeep Arora
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today and is expected to continue growing strongly over at least the next decade, according to a report published in 2003 by Goldman Sachs, "Dreaming with the BRICs: The Path to 2050." As a rapidly emerging market, it is not surprising that India has adopted an amalgam of "what has worked in the past" when it comes to training—combining both Western and traditionally Indian approaches.
In ancient India, the Brahmins (teachers, scholars, and priests), were the highest caste. The current culture retains the value of a good education, which has several impacts on training in India today. First, the most commonly used university teaching methodology is lecture followed by a few minutes for questions and answers. In all but the most prestigious universities, students often are sanctioned for being "disruptive"—asking too many questions, doing things in any way different from the ways being taught. As they join the workforce, the young Indians of today are becoming more used to Western (more participative) approaches. Typically, it is those Indian graduates who demonstrate they can think outside the box who rise to the top in business.
Second, because of a strong emphasis on the importance of education, programs linked to professors from Harvard or other prestigious Western institutions that have leadership programs are perceived as the best and, therefore, are easy to sell. Programs such as motivational training are difficult to sell unless the founder/Western "guru" is delivering the program himself/herself.
Third, when learning, program participants often value frequent testing to demonstrate "who's best" (separates out the top performers). For one call center redesign project, Indian participants requested that the redesign include daily tests over the four-week training period.
Many companies train "everyone on everything" for two reasons. First, there is high turnover or churn of those seeking higher-paying positions, and, therefore, more open slots than in Western companies. Also, training can lead to retaining talent because if employees have been trained for multiple positions, it is easier to move them up in the company.
In India, because of the rapid expansion of the economy and the high turnover rates, there is a strong focus on selecting the best from the candidate population, and onboarding. ITAP India's experience has been that the style indicator tools—used to help employers identify good candidates—are the best selling tools.
Training requirements (64 to 80 hours of such skill-building training) often are provided by employers in these ways:
Training PricesBecause India's economy is emerging, training prices are considered low by U.S. standards.
Type of training (range in USD):
Cultural DifferencesIn one client example (U.S. credit-card company new-hire call-center training), we audited the current training program and made recommendations based on instrument-assessed cultural differences. These recommendations, later adopted by the client, included:
As Indian firms increase their global reach and sharpen their competitive advantages, training is likely to continue to prove important to an economy in which the number of jobs is outstripping graduates with adequate entry-level skills. Those firms that can provide culturally focused training that can demonstrably improve results are likely to find a growing market in India.
This article originally appeared in the January 2008 issue of Training magazine. Click here to link to the article at the Training website. Catherine Mercer Bing is executive director of ITAP International, and Pradeep Arora is managing director, TASMAC Management Training Resources (TMTR)/ITAP India.
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