Corporate India has stepped up its commitment to skill development in recent years. But if India has to meet its skilling challenge in quick time, corporate India needs to do much more.
The nature of its intervention has to see a qualitative change.
The country has been trying to build an eco-system for skill development.
The Government, through the Ministry of Skill Development and also specialised institutions, is making funds available, ensuring flexibility in the curriculum and encouraging practical training in classrooms.Besides the funds provided by the Government, corporates are making a contribution to skilling by way of their CSR obligation.
As industry wants skilled people to support its growth, it is keen on training youth and the Government is also willing to allow corporate partners and training institutions plenty of freedom in how they want to go about this work.
The missing piece
The puzzles seem to be fitting in, making for a pretty picture. Well, almost a pretty picture. For, there is a missing piece. What is it?
Based on Maruti Suzuki’s experience of working with government-owned Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across India for over a decade, the overarching conclusion is that corporates have to deepen their commitment to their partner ITIs, and be there for the long haul. They have to be in the trenches, virtually, doing the hard work for the partner ITIs. The situation may differ owing to local factors, and there are honourable exceptions. But, by and large, there is much in the government system that needs to be fixed. Even if all stakeholders are ready and willing, it is the corporate that has to make it happen.
Train the teachers
The corporate should not stop at providing funds to the ITI, but hunker down to the task of ensuring the teachers at the institute are adequately trained and motivated. Once they are trained, the corporate should be prepared to stand by and see them transferred to another location where critical vacancies have not been filled. In places where teachers are periodically redeployed to execute government-related work such as elections, the corporate must step in with temporary teachers for as long as it is required. In our experience, we recognise that not only should the industry partner renovate the ITI workshops and install the latest industry-relevant equipment, but also have mechanisms to ensure the equipment are regularly used and maintained. Remote control does not work. Corporate partners have to handhold the ITI right through, over the last mile.
Soft skills training
In a good case scenario, where the ITI is well-equipped and operating smoothly, the gap may be soft skills. While students acquire technical training, they may still be unfamiliar with concepts of punctuality, discipline, order and cleanliness and kaizen. They may not have been sensitised to the quality demands of industry. All of this means they are still far from industry-ready.
The positive part is the plenty of good intentions: students willing to learn and make it big, teachers responding to new learning and exposure and principals keen on getting the most out of the industry partner and striving for high placement rates for their students. But for these partnerships to work, corporates must be ready with 360 degree support: the company’s senior management taking out time to oversee the management of the ITI, appointment of dedicated staff for assessing the needs of the ITI and driving change on a regular basis, ensuring exposure to industry for faculty and students and of course, being there for them at placement time.
Read more: The Hindu