THE success of the community college depends on the active participation and collaboration of the industrial, rural, agricultural, commercial and service organisations of the locality concerned. These sectors assist the community college in five different ways: designing the curriculum for various job-oriented courses; deputing their personnel to serve as members on the advisory board; providing part-time instructors; providing training for students in their workplace; and offering job placement service. In some cases a memorandum of understanding is signed with the local industries in all the five areas of collaboration. Representatives from the various sectors could even serve on the governing body of the community college.
Says B.T. Bangera, managing director of Hi-Tech Arai Ltd., Madurai, "There is no dearth of manpower in Madurai. If am not mistaken, more than one lakh youth who have migrated from villages around Madurai, are unemployed. This is in addition to the local youth who pass out from the Industrial Training Institute or senior secondary schools every year.
Hi-Tech Arai has a joint venture with M/s Arai Seisakusho Ltd., Japan, M/s Mitsubishi Corpn, Japan and M/s Japan International Development Organisation Ltd., Tokup. In 1990, the company was a family-owned small-scale business with an annual turnover of Rs.80 lakhs. In 2001 its turnover touched Rs.70 crores and the company employed more than 580 persons. "Achieving such phenomenal growth was possible by focussing on human resource development," says Bangera.
"In today's globalised environment with global competition, the only way to survive is by producing world-class products for which we need world-class employees. Unfortunately the regular stream of education, although it imparts knowledge to students, does not impart the appropriate work culture and mindset to produce quality products. By the time the students find employment in the industry it is much too late for them to adapt themselves to the work culture required."
It is in this context that Hi-Tech Arai signed an MoU with the Madurai Community College (MCC), as its industrial partner. "The idea was to associate with an educational institution that was not bogged down with age-old rules and regulations, inflexible teaching content and methods. Being a community college we wanted the institution to impart training that is relevant to the community in and around Madurai. Hi-Tech Arai wanted MCC to help it in two ways:
Convert the mindset of existing employees to fit into TQM [Total Quality Management] philosophy to prepare them to face global competition and get employees at the lowest level who could fit straightway into the existing work culture in the organisation."
In this context, Hi-Tech Arai uses MCC to conduct tailor-made programmes to the operators so that they think of TQM, zero defect, total productive maintenance, quality control circle movement, good housekeeping Kaizen [continuous improvement] and develop leadership among workmen. As a result, today one of the four units with about 80 operators runs without any superviser," Bangera says. "To spread this culture in the industry, we have even developed an employee competence development programme with MCC," he said. According to Senthilnathan, managing director of Premier System and Peripherals, students of MCC are trained to recognise the demands of the industry and function accordingly. "This service of MCC is laudable and industrialists are privileged to be associated with the college," he added.
M. Joseph, proprietor of Zion Refrigeration and a member of the advisory board of MCC since 1998, says, "I see MCC as an extraordinary college for the academically, economically and socially disadvantaged groups."
D. Ramasamy, chief executive officer of `E Plus Plus' in Madurai, providing sales and services of computers for the past 10 years, is all praise for the "high standard of technical knowledge" and field training provided by the community college.
Other organisations associated with MCC - Susee Car & Trucks Pvt. Ltd, Kalayani Associates Pvt Ltd (Group), Sai Engineering Company and Madura Park Inn - are unanimous that MCC promotes systematic acquisition of skills by identifying the students' areas of interest and guiding them in their development.