October 2014 | Jai Madan

Grooming young talent in China

The TCS China University steps up to offer soft skills training in partnership with 25 universities across the country

While in-depth knowledge and industry expertise is essential, proficiency in English, inter-personal skills as well as problem solving and other managerial skills that enable people to work with colleagues across the globe and manage all kinds of diverse situations are important too. Graduates and young adults all over the world face challenges when they leave the campus.

The core function of TCSCU is to ensure that young adults in China receive training and are groomed to be 'corporate ready'. Till date TCSCU has successfully worked with 1,135 students
Over the years, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has found that helping young adults to shape the future direction of their careers is a crucial and critical aspect of their talent development. In China, TCS has addressed this issue by conceptualising and starting the TCS China University (TCSCU) in 2011.

The core function of the TCSCU is to ensure that young adults in China receive training and are groomed to become world citizens and ‘corporate ready’, before they officially enter the China workplace. The course teaches skills such as how to work closely with a team of colleagues that they have never met before; how to meet a pressing deadline; how to navigate a job interview; how to put newly-honed technical skills to practice; how to create a great first impression; how to interact with and influence a colleague who is half way across the world, through virtual media; amongst other things.

Grooming for success
The grooming or training is done through extremely close collaboration with 25 identified partner universities in China and is present in several cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chengdu and Ha’erbin.

The technical curriculum of these universities is carefully scrutinised by the TCS China team, which works closely with partner universities to ensure that course materials are continuously updated to reflect changing technological and client requirements. These collaborations take the form of campus presentations, lectures and training courses for professors and university students alike. Training sessions are held at the partner universities.

Technical and soft skills training, internships and on-the-job mentoring are also provided to university students, to develop skillsets required for success at the workplace. Some of these skills are taught even prior to graduation. This has been a very successful intervention, with university students and fresh graduates alike rating the soft skills and technical training, and mentoring extremely well, with a close to 100 percent satisfaction rating.

“The faculty (at TCSCU) is excellent and all of them are outstanding people and we should learn from them,” says Li Feifei, a fresh graduate from Shuren University. Weng Kaibo, a graduate from the University of the Ceramic Institute of Jingdezhen, says, “I learnt how to apply theoretical knowledge in practice, and the interpersonal effectiveness course is really interesting. I learnt a lot!” Till date TCSCU has successfully worked with 1,135 students and has conducted training sessions for 150 professors and teachers.

Younger minds
Aside from TCSCU, which looks at developing university students in preparation for the workforce, TCS China has also initiated a programme for younger talent that is aimed at teenagers from local schools. This is done through their ‘Go for IT’ initiative which they have started in collaboration with the Jianping High School in Shanghai.

As part of the inititative, the TCS Shanghai office along with Jianping High School conducted an intensive nine-day onsite programme for 15 bright and promising teenagers. For nine days, all 15 students embarked upon a rigorous, intensive learning journey. Among other things, they picked up basic office software applications and learnt how to apply these skills at work, interacted with top business leaders within TCS China, shadowed different corporate functions, applied newly learnt skills in work assignments, and worked closely with team mates and TCS China leaders who were assigned as mentors. Students worked on a designated theme and were expected to research, plan and develop a presentation deck by the end of the programme. They also practiced public speaking and presentation skills.

All participating students who participated appreciated the programme and were extremely satisfied with the training. “I learnt to be confident and passionate, more meticulous and so on. I can see my progress thanks to TCS China,” says Gong Jiaying, a participant. Another student, Wang Junkun, says, “I really enjoyed the knowledge shared by the mentors. Their international perspective, inputs and advice on our appearance, etiquette and the way we carry ourselves was very useful.” The mentors who trained the students were equally happy with the progress shown by the candidates. One of them explains, “I was pleasantly surprised by the maturity and level of thinking during the presentations. They gave me a lot of food for thought and I found myself learning from their perspectives.”

Future talent
The Go for IT programme was so well-received that Jianping High School suggested establishing a long term alliance with TCS China; a contract between the high school and TCS China has been signed. Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback, there are plans to extend this programme to other cities where TCS China has a presence.

Lumin W, the TCS point of contact for this initiative, adds, “I find that the students get a lot from the mentoring experience and it is exciting for the mentor to watch the changes that occur in the students during the process. For some students the mentoring process can be a life-changing one. Above all, everyone has a great deal of fun.”

TCS China strongly believes in investing for the long-run and is deeply committed to developing China’s young talent (teenagers and graduates alike) and growing along with them. Reiterating this belief, Sujit Chatterjee, president, TCS China, concludes, “We are deeply invested in China’s future and we believe that we need to start developing tomorrow’s leaders today. While we prepare these extremely talented young people for an ever-changing, dynamic future, they bring fresh insights, thoughts and perspectives and we too, learn from them.”

Skills that students picked up during the Go for IT initiative

  • Motivation for personal goals: Initiative, engagement, willingness to try new things, persistence, work ethics, commitment and a drive to pursue interests and personal development.
  • Executive functioning skills: Planning ahead, organisation, execution and completion of projects, informed decision making, judgment, concentration and self-monitoring.
  • Glimpses into life at work: Job experience, interviewing, working hard, accepting criticism and following directions. Students were given opportunities to interview candidates applying to TCS, and were matched with mentors — they had to learn how to accept feedback and follow directions.
  • Academic skills: Intellectual curiosity, study habits and value of learning.
  • Emotional awareness, reflection, regulation: A big emphasis of the programme was on introspection. Students were expected to introspect on their performance and relationships with their team(s) and mentors at the start and end of every day. They were also asked to set goals every day.
  • Social skills: Through team projects and their interactions with different corporate functions within the company, students had to hone their ability to size up interpersonal situations. They also learnt the following lessons: cooperation with others, communication skills, conflict resolution skills, gaining perspective and accurate self-appraisal in groups.

Read more about Tata skilling initiatives around the world

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IT's raining skills in Africa
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