New UChicago-India Collaboration to Focus on Capacity Building in India’s Telecom Sector

The University of Chicago and the Telecom Sector Skill Council of India (TSSC) have signed an agreement to bring UChicago expertise and training to India’s fast-growing telecommunications workforce.

India’s telecom sector has been undergoing an unprecedented digitalization boom in recent years. Thanks to rapid adoption of technologies like smart phones and digital payment systems there, India is now the second largest and fastest growing telecom market in the world.

Under the memorandum of understanding, UChicago will help TSSC, a public-private partnership focused on capacity building in the Indian telecom sector, create training programs focused on improving data analytic and digital skills. As a knowledge partner for TSSC, UChicago will leverage its world-class strengths in evidence-based policy research and program evaluation to help create targeted educational opportunities for TSSC trainers. In turn, the trainers will then train students and professionals who belong to the vast TSSC network, within and outside of India. Currently TSSC has a strong reach in India, Taiwan, Australia and United Kingdom.

“UChicago, led by the Harris School of Public Policy, is pleased to partner with such an important sector of the Indian market,” said Balaji Srinivasan, associate provost and senior advisor to the president at UChicago. “We look forward to bringing our strengths as a University to bear on TSSC’s training program, working closely with them to adopt a model of collaboration that builds upon the existing ecosystem in India, and by plugging in relevant global expertise.”

The collaboration builds on UChicago’s current skill-building efforts in India led by the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago. The Centre, based at Harris Public Policy in the United States and the University of Chicago Trust in India, builds on a solid foundation of development-focused research and implementation efforts to deliver training and case studies directed at government officials, bureaucrats, and other decision-makers within the development space.

The MoU was signed on November 29, 2016 by Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar, chief executive officer of TSSC, and Kerwin Charles, interim dean at Harris Public Policy, with Associate Provost Srinivasan as UChicago’s designee for this collaboration. A December 22 event with senior public leaders on "Building India 2030 with Emerging Technologies" launched the agreement.

"Given the extraordinary penetration of smart phones in the society, there is a massive opportunity for efficient delivery of public services through mobiles,” said Lt. Gen. Dr. SP Kochhar. “Combined with our government’s focus on training efforts such as Skill India, Digital India and Make in India, it puts us at a historic point to define the next decade for India and the developing world. To leverage this opportunity and tackle its accompanying challenges, emerging markets like ours will need to invest substantially in capacitating their human capital and infrastructure at global standards. Collaboration with the University of Chicago is a critical step towards achieving this goal.”

The Indian telecom sector has emerged as one of the greatest economic success stories, registering a consistent overall growth rate of more than 35 percent over the past two decades. The sector employs close to 2.8 million people directly and almost another seven million indirectly, making it one of the largest employment generating sectors in the sub-continent. In the next five years, the sector will employ more than 8.6 million people in India. Through a partnership with TSSC, UChicago has an unprecedented opportunity to impact this dynamic sector.

“The telecom industry in the US has an experience of over half a century, with cutting edge technology and systems. We have an opportunity to learn from their experience and apply the relevant components in India, while focusing equally on building our local capabilities and expertise” added Lt. Gen. Dr Kochhar.