We are not taking up new projects in Govt schools: NIIT chief

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018


We need to look into the policy and how they view a PPP: Vijay Thadani

Education services provider NIIT Ltd reported a consolidated net profit of ₹60 lakh and a marginal increase in revenues in Q1 (April to June) of this fiscal. According to Vijay K Thadani, Chief Executive Officer, NIIT Ltd, the company has consciously de-emphasised on Government school learning solutions. Focus is now on corporate learning solutions, school learning solutions (private) and individual training segments. Recently in Kolkata, Thadani, in an interview to BusinessLine, spoke of NIIT’s focus areas, IT hiring and the need to create jobs. Edited excerpts:

What is your outlook of the education services sector in which you cater?

As far as corporate learning solutions are concerned — predominantly in the countries such asthe US, the UK and India — it’s doing extremely well. Business is growing at 30 per cent plus; and margins are improving.

In the individual training segment, the ‘Beyond IT’ portfolio has also grown very fast (31 per cent y-o-y) and is doing better than ‘IT training’ which is dependent on IT hiring.

Work for private schools is going very well and the marketplace is ripe for that to increase, especially with competition being weak at this point.

In school learning solutions, we consciously de-emphasised on Government schools because of changes in the political environment and payment problems from State Governments.

So, obviously, we are not taking up new projects in those areas.

Wasn’t the Government school learning programme considered a game-changer?

It was indeed a game-changer. We trained 16 million children at the peak.

So why did it fizzle out?

Firstly, the programme was capital-intensive and the capital intensity increased further due to the variety of internal processes of the Government and payment delays.

It’s not that the private sector did not make mistakes. But some of the good companies, like us, are paying for those.

Now that political uncertainty is over and there’s a stable Government, would you look at re-entering the segment?

One needs to have a look into the policy of the Government and how it views public-private partnership (PPP). The private sector has to be considered as a partner. And the reciprocity (for projects) should come from the Government.

One must realise that the private sector doesn’t come with infinite funds. We are listed companies answerable to our shareholders.

So the Government has to take equal responsibility in ensuring liquidity and see to it that long processes are not there. Till there is such a change (in policy), it will be difficult for us to be there.

Are you willing to work with the Government to remove these hurdles?

I head the CII School’s Committee and making PPP work is my responsibility; especially, in the interest of everyone. We are working with the Government. But these solutions will take time.

Do you see an improvement in your IT training segment portfolio?

IT is slow because hiring has to go up. Hiring (IT) has started; but it’s mostly laterals. Volumes will come when hiring of freshers resumes.

Right now there’s positive growth. Earlier, IT companies focussed on utilisation. But they can’t grow on utilisation alone. Hiring is inevitable. It is just the pace that will vary.

How important are the role of start-ups in job creation?

They have phenomenal opportunities.

India needs more jobs, but before that we need more job creators and that is where these start-ups come in.

Entrepreneurship needs to be pushed. The Nasscom venture on start-ups, creating funds in the Budget, and CII working on helping entrepreneurs are some of the laudable.

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Published on August 17, 2014
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