As a part of its CSR programs, Aricent has chosen ‘promoting education’, including ‘special education and employment-enhancing vocational skills especially among children, women, elderly and the differently-abled, and livelihood enhancement projects. Ashwani Lal, Chairman – CSR Board – Aricent tells SPOI of how the company has been working holistically for promoting quality Engineering education and about its initiatives it has undertaken with NASSCOM Foundation –
What are Aricent’s views and vision for CSR and Sustainability, and how will the CSR mandate of the Company Act, 2013 impact the way in which Aricent plans its CSR program?
Aricent’s vision – ‘Engineering the future’ – leads us towards transforming lives through innovative product engineering services. Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) intervention is an extension of this goal. With the advent of the Companies Act, 2013 and Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014, the Company started using 2% of accruing benefits to reach out to those who belong to the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid.
We have been in the IT domain for over 25 years and have deep domain knowledge of the industry. We decided to leverage this expertise for bridging knowledge and skill gaps existing in the Engineering domain. Hence, ‘Engineering Excellence’ has been consciously chosen as a thematic base for our CSR program. This program is based on the skill development requirements to meet India’s global competitiveness in the Engineering domain. We all know that India’s transition to a knowledge and technology-based economy requires a new cadre of educated and skilled engineers whose ability to create, share, and use knowledge effectively will determine the country’s competitive edge globally.
Aricent Employability Enhancement Program’ was recently christened as Arise by Aricent. The objective of this program is to create an Engineering workforce empowered with the necessary wherewithal and who are equipped with upgraded skills, knowledge and nationally recognized qualifications to gain access to decent employment. Quality and relevance of skill development are key success parameters of this program.
Could you please share some of the recent initiatives of Aricent and how they are shaping the path of CSR in the Company?
The CSR program of Aricent has been conceptualized towards filling the demand and supply gap that currently exists in the IT-ITeS sector, as substantiated by various analyses and studies of the labour market. This flagship CSR program provides a platform for engineering students to enhance their employability skills,that are relevant to the IT-ITeS sector, through rigorous intervention and training which is provided both online and on-campus. The specific skills to be developed, are identified through studies/advices by the country’s leading technical institutions such as Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and IT-ITeS Sector Skill Council – SSC NASSCOM. Beneficiary students and participating colleges for ‘Arise by Aricent’ are carefully selected to ensure that the program reaches young marginalized students of Tier-2 and Tier-3 Engineering colleges of even remote areas, with special focus on women Engineering students. For a wider geographical reach, the program runs in two modes – online and on-campus. Arise by Aricent online is in partnership with IIT Madras and Arise by Aricent on-campus which is running in a multifaceted manner share partnership with NASSCOM Foundation.
What is your mantra for running a successful CSR program?
There isn’t a ‘single’ mantra; however, whichever program we have designed, we try to remain focussed on reaching out to the beneficiaries who really need our support. Also, the program can’t remain static, so we have been evolving our CSR programs year after year,continuously refining, consolidating, and organically evolving itbased on the outcomes/results, reviews, learnings, and resolutions. While designing and implementing the program, we also try to maintain aholistic approach, inclusivity and sustainability as the prime focus so that the program is not a Band-Aid solution, rather it is to do with more sustainable solutions to a problem plaguing the sector/theme.
What is your roadmap in terms of creating a positive impact on both society and environment?
We have chosen a theme carefully, which is aligned to our vision. We wish to continue in this field itself. Though we continue to get inputs/suggestions to explore and venture intomany other areas as there are severalissues which need our attention, and we do acknowledge that those are very important and pressing issues,but we want to continue focus in just one area so that we can add value in the long run. Since we are in the Engineering domain, we understand it very well, and thusgive rise to an increasing number of skilled engineers who are employable and can grow faster in their role while working in the organization. We aim to continue working in the same software skilling area going forward and reaching out to the maximum number of people through our sustainable programs. However, beneficiary profiling may change based on the needs and organic evolution.
Please elaborate on the recent initiatives you are undertaking along with NASSCOM Foundation, and how as a program you want to execute it?
The recent initiative which we have undertaken is the Arise by Aricent Master Coach program which is to impact a whole ecosystem of Engineering education. We have integrated this new Training of Trainers- ToT Project in the Arise by Aricent on-campus program. The project, launched last year, is supporting identified teachers and educators across five colleges in Delhi NCR and Bangalore for shaping up their professional growth curve and using relevant teaching tools with a target to ultimately impact students’ learning outcomes. Based on the learning needs emerging from the grassroots operations, this new CSR program is consolidating our efforts to actualise our vision of Quality Engineering Education.
Also, we have also identified close to 100 engineering girl students who will begoing through advanced computing language program based on Android. This project is in association with NASSCOM Foundation and with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) which is a national initiative of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeiTy), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MC&IT), Government of India.With this program, we are promoting women engineers to excel in IT-ITES sector in India in the long term.
What was the main objective of this initiative?
The first objective was to create a sustainable program as we want to reach out to more engineering colleges and students, and work for the quality enhancement of engineering education. The Talent Supply Report 2020 by NASSCOM is taken as the need analysis for the Arise by Aricent program which presented appalling figure of the depleting engineering domain. If we train 100 teachers instead of training 5000 students, then these teachers can further train students as per industry expectations, andwe can reach out to more and more students. That was the objective of the initiative.
How do you plan to position your company in the area of CSR and sustainability?
We have been working for quality Engineering education in a holistic manner and recently expanded our footprints in the area of women engineers’ empowerment and training of teachers, with long-term impact and sustainability in mind. We understand that there are many people in India who need this kind of support, who need to be skilled specially.We can only address a set of people ata time, but to make sure that we reach out to the maximum number of people,we have to create more coaches, mentors and more such sets of people who can further impart this knowledge to more number of people who require it.