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May 8, 2012

Teaching and learning in Detroit

Posted by Srikantan Moorthy (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:12 AM


A few weeks ago, Infosys launched a training program jointly with Wayne County Community College and two other partners (The Workforce Development Department & The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation), to reskill Detroit's out-of-work automotive workers. Modeled on the boot camp that we run at our Mysore campus, the Detroit version aims at delivering IT skills enablement education in a tight 18-week time frame. For more details, visit our pressroom

But, the participants aren't the only ones doing the learning. The experience of designing and conducting the pilot course has been an eye-opener. Honestly speaking, when we got into this, we didn't know what to expect. Sure, we had trained tens of thousands of employees over the years, but they were either fresh graduates with a degree in engineering or employees with experience in IT. In Detroit, we were jumping in at the deep end...taking on workers with several years of experience, varying levels of education, and not much by way of technical computer knowledge, and trying to turn them into programmers in short order. Had we bitten off more than we could chew?

To say that the response took us by surprise, is putting it mildly. Here was this group of middle aged people (average age 41), with family commitments, part-time employment (if at all) and many other worries, absolutely lighting up the classroom with their enthusiasm.  And, what they lacked in technical knowledge, they more than made up for with their maturity...their soft skills. We were surrounded by a richness of talent; the question was what could we do about it.  The answer became clear soon enough. We found that broadly, there were two kinds of students - those who could potentially switch to a career in programming and others who were better suited to other non-programming roles in IT, which required some technical appreciation, but not hardcore software skills. What came next was logical - a bifurcation of the course into two streams, one for those with strong technical aptitude, and the other for those interested in pursuing a career in say Quality Assurance, Business Analysis or Project Management.

The inaugural course is still under way. We won't know how successful it is until we get feedback from potential employers, our partners, and the students themselves. I'm certain the program will evolve as it goes through successive cycles. Analysts and industry watchers have already hailed this move. They see it providing new opportunity to the crisis-hit. They say, that given scale, it will help bridge the shortage of IT workers.

But, for those of us who have been closely involved in this initiative, the experience has already made us richer.


I must say this post is very Enthusiastic and full of passion. I can understand the feeling prior to train these people. But these people turned out to be quick learners. I can only say "necessity will teach you anything and everything"

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