- The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Aptech Training Institute, Ninad Karpe, spoke with Emma Okonji on why Nigerians need to acquire qualitative information technology education. Excerpts:
Aptech, last week in Lagos, organised its yearly seminar for students, called Career Quest. What is it all about?
This is the eighth time Aptech has organised seminar and training session for students, called Career Quest, where we expose students to opportunities in obtaining international degrees in IT.
Aptech has been in Nigeria for the past 16 years, offering IT education to students from our various centres in Nigeria, and Career Quest was later introduced to offer students the opportunity to further their studies in any university of choice in countries where Aptech is affiliated to. For example we are affiliated to Middlesex University in London, with branch campuses in Dubai, Mauritius, and Malta and our students can obtain degree in any of the branch campuses or from the main campus of the university, after passing through Aptech. What we do is to admit students with basic Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) result, into any of our training centres in Nigeria for a degree programme in any area of IT and the programme runs for two years in Nigeria, while the remaining one year programme is held in any of the campuses of Middlesex University and in three years, the students graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree certificate, fully equipped for the labour market or for self employment. So Career Quest is a one day training programme that we organise every year, to help our students and intended students to see the opportunities of acquiring a university degree in IT education.
What are the available IT courses that students study at Aptech in Nigeria and at Middlesex University?
So what we have done in Aptech is to partner Middlesex University in London to train students in IT courses. The course studied by a particular student in our Nigeria learning centre is the same IT course that the student will graduate from in Middlesex University, and this makes the programme a continuous one until the students graduate from Middlesex University. The courses available in our learning centres in Nigeria and at Middlesex University include various courses in software, hardware, computer engineering, among others and the students are at liberty to study any of the available courses.
How globally acceptable are the certificates offered at the end of the three years programme?
Our certificates are globally acceptable both for further studies and for job placement. We have training centres in 42 countries outside India and we have trained over six million students in the past 30 years of the inception of our IT training programme. Aptech is 30 years old in the business of IT education training programme and it is listed on the Indian Stock Exchange. We offer the same standard of IT education training in all our training centres spread across the globe. The certificates are issued from India and they are globally acceptable certificates.
Which of the global educational bodies accredit the IT courses offered by Aptech across the world?
Aptech is an independent body, offering standardised IT courses to students. So the certificate we offer is an independent certificate and our courses are approved and certified within Aptech.
What are the prospects of Aptech students in terms of job placement after graduation?
The job prospects are high because of the quality IT skills that we impact in them during the period of study. They can choose to work after the first two years of training in Nigeria and they can choose to work after they must completed the additional one year programme for the B.Sc degree in IT. They have the opportunity to work anywhere in the world because our products are most sought after by employers of labour as a result of the kind of skills we offer them. Again, our curriculum for the IT education empowers our students to be self employable. They can choose to start up their own company and business, based on the skills they acquired after graduation.
There are lots of job openings in the courses we run at Aptech, which gives our students comparative advantage over other students in terms of employment. The courses we run are job oriented courses that prepare students and make them employable.
You award degree certificates after three years training. Do you think three years training is sufficient for a student to acquire the relevant IT skills?
It is not just three years, but three years of intensive training on practicals and theories. Any student that passes through us in three years, is sure of acquiring the relevant IT skills for the future. In fact three years is more than sufficient.
So what are the entry qualifications for a student to begin Aptech programmes?
The basic entry qualification for students is Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) with a minimum of five credits, which must include English Language and Mathematics.
Does Aptech provide any incentives for IT education in terms of scholarship?
Yes, there are opportunities for scholarships, and during our Quest Career session, which holds every year, we normally give opportunity to few select students, where we offer them voucher that reduces their school fees as much as 50 per cent of the total cost of the training programme.
How much does a student pay as the total package for school fees?
School fees varies from one programme to another, but fees ranges from N1.2 million to N2 million for the two years programme, which comes with six areas of specialisation and the students have the option to choose their area of specialisation. So the fees vary from specialisation to specialisation, which ranges from Microsoft .Net, Oracle Java, Networking, to combinations of specialities.
Do you have programme for physically challenged students?
Yes we do, but in collaboration with a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that does the selection of candidates that are physically challenged. They select such candidates from across the country and one of the criteria for the selection process is that the candidate must be mentally sound to cope with the kind of training we offer them. The NGO takes care of the cost of the selection process, including the cost of transporting them to the Aptech learning centres and we take responsibility of the cost of training them, which comes in the form of scholarships.
How will you describe IT education in Nigeria compared to other countries where Aptech operates?
I am very impressed with Nigerian students studying at the various Aptech centres in Nigeria, because they are willing to learn IT and assimilate everything about IT. They have the zeal to study and to have better quality of life. Comparing Nigerian students with students in other countries where Aptech operates, gives a clear distinction that the Nigerian students are resilient even to the rigorous training exercise that we offer them at Aptech. Their zeal has always made them succeed in life and I salute their courage any day, anytime.
Aptech has been in Nigeria in the past 16 years, pioneering IT education. What is the priority of Aptech in driving IT education?
Yes we have been in Nigeria for up to 16 years, pioneering IT education in the country and we are committed in doing just that. Our priority is to provide the best quality of IT education to Nigerian students. We have online varsity and online portal, where students can also get themselves educated in IT. All these are to ensure quality IT education for Nigerians.
What value is Aptech bringing to IT education in Nigeria and what stands out Aptech from other IT training institutes operating in Nigeria?
We bring a lot of value to the Nigerian IT education, which in turn, helps to develop the Nigerian economy. We are developing a lot of IT professionals in Nigeria through our learning programmes that offer opportunities for better job placements. We are unique in three ways, which stands us out from every other IT training institutes in the country. We have 30 years experience in the global IT training business, with over 16 operations in Nigeria, and that long years of experience cannot be compared with other training institutes that are relatively new in the business. Again, we are global company with global standards and not a local company. Another area of our uniqueness is that at Aptech, we try to give the global best quality in IT education in terms of curriculum that is tailored towards labour market demands. So because we are a global company, we collaborate with global university like Middlesex of London, where we also train our students, and a small local IT training institute will not have that advantage that we have as a global IT training institute.
How will you compare online IT training programmes that are being organised by most training institutes with the offline training that is being practiced by Aptech?
At Aptech, we have a training module that allows for physical classrooms and physical laboratories, where students are taught physically and they have access to their lecturers. Campus experience is required for IT education because the students learn faster and better. We also have our online version training, but we make it more practical in such a way that students have the combination of theory and practical experiences.
So it is not possible for a student to become a good software programmer, for instance, without the campus experience and it is for this reason that we offer campus learning in all our learning centres.
What is the prospect of IT education in the current global dispensation, and what is your advice for Nigerian youths?
IT education holds a lot of bright future for individuals and economies who embrace it. IT education brings out the talent of creativity in any human. It creates opportunities for self reliance in terms of job, just as it also creates opportunities for jobs. My advice for Nigerian youths is that they should passionately pursue IT education, irrespective of the course they may have studied in school during their undergraduate studies. Those seeking higher education after secondary school education, should also embrace IT and ensure that they specialise in core IT disciplines.