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Posted at: Nov 6, 2019, 7:08 AM; last updated: Nov 6, 2019, 7:08 AM (IST)

Punjab govt, IBM in pact to hone skills of students

Move aimed at providing quality manpower to IT industry
Punjab govt, IBM in pact to hone skills of students
Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

Vijay C Roy

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 5

As the demand for technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing is growing, technology giant IBM has come forward to train students in Punjab, especially girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studying in government schools from Class VIII onwards. The programme will hone the skills of students and increase the availability of quality manpower to the IT industry.

Taking a step in this direction, IBM has signed an MoU with the Punjab government to introduce ‘IBM STEM for Girls’ programme across more than 35 higher secondary schools. This programme will enhance the skills and career of 8,000 girls and 2,500 boys in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the state.

To begin with, the company plans to reach out to close to 3,500 students in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts. The programme is aimed at improving education-to-work and career pathways for girls studying in government schools.

“The collaboration is a part of the three-year programme to increase the participation of girls in STEM courses. The demand for highly qualified workforce in India is quickly increasing with the acceleration of emerging technologies like cloud computing and AI, however, there is a huge gap between demand and supply,” said Karan Bajwa, managing director, IBM India.

Since the access to STEM education remains largely limited to girl students in Punjab, this initiative will help in bridging the gap by offering them an opportunity to make headway in STEM courses and pick up the necessary skills.

Further, it will increase the availability of quality manpower as IT companies operating in Punjab often complain of shortage of skilled manpower which is the main impediment for their growth.

Since software companies in the state are coming up in different fields such as drone technology, healthcare services, education and agriculture, imparting requisite skills will serve as backward integration for the IT companies. It would also play a pivotal role in attracting investment in the state in disruptive technologies and equip women with the skills of the future to help drive the economy of the state.

In March this year, the company had announced a significant engagement in India to advance the skills and career of over two lakh girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The collaborations began with signing of agreements with three state governments — Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Recently, the company also announced collaboration with the Odisha government.

While addressing technocrats, researchers and academicians after inaugurating ‘Punjab Innovation and Technology Summit-2019’ here yesterday, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said the state had a huge potential to boost research, science and technology.

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