To take his message to all CADD Centres, this Kashmir to Kanyakumari (K2K) Bharat yatra began from Chennai and covered 8,000 km over 18 days.
Various report state that more than 80 percent of engineering graduates in India are not employable as they lack practical application skills. While a lot of people lamented about the situation, Karaiadi Selvan, Managing Director of CADD Centre, decided to redefine the employment scenario for engineers.
Selvan commissioned a study in 2015 that came out with two important findings: Indian companies require engineers with the right skills and cannot spend time on training; there is likely to be a growing global demand for engineers and if Indians raise their standards, they can be employed anywhere in the world.
“If engineers are not employable, it is our fault,” says Selvan.
To this end, CADD Centre introduced a programme called the Ninth Semester. As part of this programme, an engineering student, after completing eight semesters in engineering, is trained by the CADD Centre, either in college or outside, for another six months to be employable.
Selvan says that the programme has been a huge hit in Tier II colleges, where students find it difficult to prepare for and find a job.
After the 2015 study, CADD Centre shifted its focus from just training engineers to getting them a job. A programme called Job Secured Training (JST) was introduced. In this programme, the trained engineer is placed in a job at the end of the training at CADD Centre. This is accomplished by CADD working closely with organisations to understand their skill needs and training engineers based on them.
In remote areas, CADD is also planning to introduce the JST programme, which is an institutional job-secured training. One mode for this is to train students in the “ninth semester” for six months after they complete their engineering course. The other method is for colleges to provide 40 hours of training each month from the fifth semester onwards. CADD Centre would train students, help them complete their project work, which is closely aligned to employer expectations and get them placed.
“India has 3,700 engineering colleges. CADD Centre will work with at least 1,500 engineering colleges. Our measure of success now is to get engineers employed. Previously it was just getting an engineer trained to be employable,” says Selvan.
Selvan says that while he is clear about the vision to increase employability among engineering students, the CADD Centre’s staff must also realise it is possible. To drive this message, he embarked on a Bharat yatra across the country to meet the teaching faculty at the franchise centres.
“If I invite all the teaching staff to one place, I can deliver the message. Or I could have written an email and made a video,” says Selvan, “I wanted to meet them in groups in their own place.”.
Selvan embarked on a journey of “transform to transcend” not only CADD Centres but change perceptions about Indian engineers. His Bharat yatra started from Chennai, halting at Pondicherry, Trichy, Madurai, and Nagarcoil, before reaching Kanyakumari, from where he went all the way up to Kashmir, interacting with teaching faculties from all CADD Centres.
Selvan's Bharat yatra covered Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab, reaching the national capital Delhi. From there he went to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and came back to Chennai. He went from one city to another in this order: Trivandrum, Kottayam, Trichur, Coimbatore, Calicut, Mangalore, Kolhapur, Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jammu, Chandigarh, Delhi, Lucknow, Jabalpur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Bangalore and back to Chennai.
Jijo Jacob, manager at CADD Centre in Chennai, says, “The K2K Yatra began at our centre and ended here. JST K2K Rally inspired a lot of our young team members.”
Selvan covered 8,000 kilometres over 18 days. “One colleague came with me,” he says, and people joined him in other locations. “Some people flew down to be with me in one or two centres,” he adds. Selvan also involved college teachers to explain to engineering students that they can be successful if trained.
“We had 200 people come for our programme in Coimbatore and in Bengaluru 280 people came,” says Selvan.
Deepak Kumar, who manages a franchise in Bengaluru says, “K2K brought a massive change within the team to believe in our strength across the country.”
Vivek Pathella, who runs the Mumbai franchise, says, “The company has taken up the challenge to provide placement to so many students, which will take us miles ahead of the competition. We have been inspired to do the same at our Centre.”
“The K2K trip was a lifetime experience for me,” Selvan told YourStory. “I met 800 of our employees who are in touch with the industry and academia. I had a detailed discussion with them about the way we need to skill the engineers and graduates for the future workforce.” Following these discussions, CADD will design a new curriculum.
Selvan concludes by stating, “One can become wise by reading many books and periodicals. Alternatively, one can travel widely and meet thousands of people to become wise. I understand the saying is true; certainly, I have become wise.”
In the next few years, Selvan aims to make the CADD Centre the largest employment exchange in the country for engineers and K2K Yatra was just a beginning towards that objective.