Ramping Up

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Contents

Introduction

  • The ATI group of institutions occupy prime locations in various large cities making them easily accessible to the citizenry at large.
  • Central Government spends huge monies on upkeep, salaries, capex in these institutions keeping them relevant, sustained and stable.
  • Revenue from Course Fees is insignificant thereby not burdening the learning clientele and acting as a counterbalance to private entities fleecing the citizenry.
  • At current levels of training output, per trainee costs are excessive. These will come down when the volume is ramped up.
  • The moot question is: Are the citizenry being served and served well?
  • If not, what needs to be done to ensure that the next generation is adequately served.

This article studies the ways and means to ramp up the training output in terms of both quality and quantity of these institutions whilst enhancing it's cost effectiveness to justify the load on the exchequer.

Current State

Admissions

The traditional way that almost all ATI institutions acquire admissions is by paper form filling and submission by post / in person. This data is then transcribed into some sort of semi automated Excel/Access MDB based files / application for further administration.

  • Time consuming
  • Error Prone
  • Poor use of scarce highly paid (wo)manpower.
  • Redundant reconciliation

Recruitment

  • UPSC passouts do not have much preference for these jobs due to lack of parity with similar opportunities in other entities.
  • Emerging disciplines needing highly skilled faculty do not come in adequate numbers through the conventional UPSC stream.
  • Mid career recruitment directly from the industry is needed to have capable faculty in niche disciplines.

Promotions

  • Faculty is recruited primarily for their teaching of critical skills.
  • As they mature over time some will keep abreast of their disciplines and be flexible enough to learn related disciplines to be multi faceted.
  • Metrics need to be created and incumbents in each position evaluated after being given sufficient time to acclimatise themselves, otherwise, sycophancy and nepotism will set in.
  • No test for attitude is done for promotions.
  • No check of aptitude and capability is done at the time of promotion or shortly thereafter especially when the nature of the job becomes predominantly administerial.

The above has resulted in practically everyone having been promoted to their level of incompetence as eulogised in Peter's Principle.

Replenishment

  • As faculty retire, the vacant posts are not filled / filled partly / filled but with delay.
  • Staff strength requirements are set to make sure the existing courses operate with sufficient staff and any unfilled vacancy will affect the same.

Visiting Faculty

  • When there is lack of staff for conducting courses (regular scheduled and custom), external faculty with the necessary skillsets are taken on a per session basis.
  • The compensation for such faculty have been standardised to a "one size fits all" and was fixed years ago with no adjustments for the inflation that has occurred meanwhile. This is now woefully inadequate making it hard to get quality faculty.

Visibility and Awareness

  • Non specific advertisements in newspapers appear twice a year.
  • Events are advertised in the various media as the budget allows.
  • Word of mouth of satisfied candidates for specific courses when conducted by specific faculty at a specific ATI Institution.

Effectiveness

  • Some faculty are dedicated in each ATI Institution and the courses they conduct are lapped up with eagerness and lead to a strong relationship between the parent institutions and the ATIs.
  • The indifferent type of faculty, possibly haughty, arrogant and with a "smarter than thou" attitude will in many cases not get any students at all and the resources allocated for them would go unutilised.
  • Some candidates come to the ATIs and treat the course as a company paid / on duty holiday by just marking attendance.
  • The entity making the syllabus, teaching the course and evaluating the candidates should all be different and not the same as is prevailing now.
  • Practically everyone attending the course gets certified now!

Maintenance and Upkeep

  • Whenever any equipment is not in working order or requires consumables that are not in the inventory (Re-Order levels?), the courses they depend on will suffer.
  • Archaic purchase committee meetings delay this process and make for consolidated corruption / shortchanged on ignorance.

Space and Resource Availability

  • Classrooms, Chairs, Computers and Facility Attendants are all scarce resources.
  • The dichotomy of having resources and not effectively deploying them compounds the issue.
  • Advance notice of availability and upper hierarchy not throwing the spanner in the works with last minute re-deployments will make for smooth running of the courses.

Out of the Box Thinking

  • ATI Chennai's admissions are currently being done online whilst allowing students to submit application forms by post and in person for the computer challenged. The other institutions too can do likewise. This helps cut down on redundant and repetitive transcription by the ATI staff whilst ensuring accuracy besides speeding up the admission process.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) based approach to managing resources including visiting faculty and faculty leave.
  • An incentive / reward scheme to be established for staff going the extra mile in keeping critical equipment in working order by learning and repairing it themselves.
  • The 2015-16 floods in Chennai brought out the true skills of the various ATI Chennai's critical personnel across the hierarchy divide reviving submerged computers and servers, hard disks and other office and lab equipment by themselves.
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