labels: industry - general
Kerala to instil entrepreneurial skills among students in statenews
James Paul
10 December 2003

Kochi: In a move that is seen as the first in India, the Kerala state government is tying up with schools and colleges to instil entrepreneurial skills among students even before they step out of classrooms.

Kerala Institute of Entrepreneurial Development (KIED), in association with Kitco, an industrial technology consultancy, is in the process of setting up entrepreneurship development clubs in educational institutions across the state.

"Our target is to have clubs in at least 100 institutions this year," says V Sivaraman, principal of the year-old KIED. In Ernakulam district, some of the institutions where these clubs have been established include the Rajagiri, Darul Uloom Vocational School, SRV School, and St Peter's School, Kolenchery. "These clubs will attempt at tuning the mindset of the students to become job generators, a shift from the present trend of seeking employment," Sivaraman says.

"Unemployment levels in Kerala are high, with few job generating avenues here. At the same time, the government jobs are no longer attractive enough, and the security in private firms is low. At such a time, the most viable alternative is to get self-employed and perhaps, even create jobs for others," he says.

"Our club will hold regular activities such as organising interactive sessions with successful entrepreneurs, holding debates and seminars and organising visits to industrial units," says Shaniba P H, coordinator of the project at the Darul Uloom School.

Adds Nobin Thomas, coordinator on the Rajagiri campus: "Each club is given a financial assistance of Rs 12,000 by KIED to start out. Our job is to develop skills in students that will help them to start out in life once they leave college. We have also had talks with the Kerala Management Association and TiE for helping with resources."

Unemployment level in Kerala, according to the 2002-03 Economic Survey, is pegged at 20.97 per cent, perhaps the highest in the country. This is nearly 5 per cent higher than the 1993-94 figure of 15.51 per cent. With poor openings here, the state also sees an annual exodus of trained professionals. It was keeping in mind this crucial problem that KIED came into existence a year ago. "The clubs were the first project we thought of, and it took time to fine-tune the idea into a workable project," Sivaraman says.

The endeavour will only begin to bear fruit a decade later, say the resource people. "You have to plan for the future, start early. This is why schools too have been roped in."

"In the West, the tide has already turned and entrepreneurs are looked upon with much more respect than high-profile employees," says Sivaraman, noting that the trend has started here too.

He refers to the case of two IIM graduates, Kishen Kumar and L Krishnaswamy, who turned down plum job offers with multinationals and have, instead, plunged into a venture of branding banana chips. "While several universities offer courses in entrepreneurial skills, Kerala is the only state to have launched a state-wide project of this kind."


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Kerala to instil entrepreneurial skills among students in state