NIFT design students to be given business orientation

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Kolkata: India’s only government fashion institute National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) has reworked its curriculum to produce not only designers, but also those with marketing and managerial skills and the spirit of enterprise.

Professor Raghuraman Jayaraman who is in charge of industry and alumni affairs disclosed this at Industry Connect 2020 which was held recently for industry representatives to interact with Nift teachers and administrators.

The meeting at the Salt Lake campus was told the first batch of post graduate students who were given business orientation as a value-addition to their talent for designing, will be ready for the job market this year.

NIFT Dean, Dr Vandana Narang, who was chief guest, NIFT Kolkata director Col Subroto Biswas and Dr Jayaraman were among those who led the discussions.

Dr Jayaraman said the NIFT in response to industry feedback about its students had discussed extensively with alumni representatives across the globe before making changes to the course plan.

With design incubators also in place, teachers and students are feeling excited that upcoming batches will have better opportunities and cope better in the changing dynamics of the industry.

Dr Saugata Banerjee who heads the Masters in Fashion Management department explained that although one expected graduates to come straight into the two-year course, most came with work experience in fashion or in another industry. These students are very clear about their aims and targets.

He said therefore the new masters curriculum has subjects of specialisation such as international business, marketing and retailing and entrepreneurship to choose from. Another feature is an inter-disciplinary minor (IDM) programme which allows student to opt for one subject from another department.

The institute also has a training of the trainers (TOT) programme to update the knowledge and skills of teachers in line with innovations in the industry and the marketplace, he said.

The interactive session heard Indian Leather Products Association representative Mr Gulati lamenting that NIFT students were not joining the leather industry and hoped some classroom projects will help develop interest in that sector.

Dr Narang responded that the leather industry should introspect why there was a lack of interest and shared her experiments in NIFT, New Delhi, which she said paid handsome dividends.

Tarun Mallik from the jute industry wanted NIFT to focus on creating entrepreneurs and not merely employees. Dr Jayaraman pointed out that 75% of the managerial positions in design industry are held by NIFTians.

Ananya Bhattacharya of Banglanatak dot com, a social enterprise working to foster inclusive and sustainable development using culture-based approaches, shared his experience of inviting NIFT students last year to work in the heritage sector.

“We feel in today’s world of design and culture, traditional crafts has a new opportunity. It was excellent that the students were urged to come up with design innovations. We shared some of the designs with our artists and around 20-30 of them may be further developed. It was a very pleasing experience for us,” said Mr Bhattacharya.

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