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Highlighted by the Government of India's recent “Digital India” and “Make in India” initiatives, and having worked in the IT Industry for decades myself, I know that employers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire people with expertise in Cloud computing. Partnering with the Salesforce Academic Alliance program was the perfect answer to help prepare students in the Telangana area for a future in technology.

Out of the 200-230 engineering colleges in Telangana, employability is around 7-10%. And during placement season, only a maximum of 15% of students manage to secure jobs. The rest of the 85%, largely from Computer Science / IT majors, are not always then proactive, and immediately fall back into one of the countless computer courses on offer.

However, this is a grey market, as many of these institutes do not have authentic licenses, trained faculty, or the required infrastructure. Add to this that interpersonal skills and professionalism are not included in these courses, and the result is the actual scope to improve prospects becomes very limited. Our target, as a part of the employability improvement rate, is to focus not only on technical competence, but also to improve the students' organizational and communication skills, too.

In November 2015, I met with the Telangana Academy for Skill & Knowledge (TASK), the Department of IT E&C, Government of Telangana to take on an assignment designed to help upskill the youth in the state. I was then introduced to the Salesforce Academic Alliance program—created to equip universities, colleges, and non-profit organizations with the resources needed to help bridge the cloud computing skills gap. It was a tailor-made partnership. By bringing Salesforce training and certification directly into students’ hands at the educational level, together we could develop a talented pool of candidates for the Salesforce ecosystem in India.

And the journey has been phenomenal! At present, there are about 527 colleges registered with TASK in the state of Telangana. Our partnership with the Salesforce Academic Alliance team has been seamless. Together, we're developing the talent required in Salesforce technologies by launching two courses to students; (1) Declarative Development for Platform App Builders and (2) Programmatic Development using Apex and Visualforce, the second primarily aimed at engineering graduates studying in their third year. By getting students Salesforce trained and certified, we're helping them be ready for high-demand jobs such as Business Analysts, Data Analysts, Developers, Solution Architects, Technical Architects, Application Developers, Administrators, and more.

Working closely with the Salesforce team in India, we deliver awareness sessions to colleges, sharing details of the Salesforce Academic Alliance Program to both students and educators. We kicked off the first batch of training with 40 students from a rural engineering college in the Khammam district of Telangana. I must say, the Salesforce instructor was top notch and the students had a world-class learning experience!

I'm pleased to share that since then, around 23 students from that class have taken a Salesforce certification exam and five students have earned a 6-month internship with a Salesforce Partner organization, the first stepping stone for them to gain full-time employment. Not only that, but 22 students from the second batch of 40 engineering college graduates, based out of Hyderabad, have just been hired by a well-known IT service and solution provider in the region. 

There is a dire need for students in Telangana to be well-trained. Most of the regions have underdeveloped communities where any aspirations for a better life rarely see the light of day. A woman called me recently and thanked me; she was a daily-wage laborer and her daughter had secured a job due to the upskilling of her technology capabilities. She simply wanted to reach out and express what it meant to her that her family will be getting the chance at a better life. This is one of the many reasons why I continue working towards making affordable and structured corporate education a reality.

We are aiming to upskill 60-65% of first-generation professionals for a future in tech, and I believe this is achievable, especially working together with the Salesforce Academic Alliance. I am honored to be a part of such a transition in the education and employment sector.

Bhaskar Gandhavadi has over 30 years of experience in the Indian IT Training & Education Industry. He recently moved from the IT industry to work with TASK to improve the employability quotient of students graduating from Telangana state.

If you've been inspired by the work Bhaskar is doing with TASK, learn more about how you, too, could benefit from the Salesforce Academic Alliance program.