NEW DELHI : Training one-and-a-half million hands every year to work India’s factories is no child’s play, and the Union skills and entrepreneurship ministry is learning it the hard way.
An initial assessment by the ministry barely a fortnight after it took charge of the training and apprentice departments from the labour ministry found the nation’s 11,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) saddled with old machinery and outdated curricula. At least two government officials, who confirmed the assessment, said even the 37 Advanced Training Institutes that the skills ministry has inherited from the labour ministry are archaic. The officials declined to be identified.
Skills ministry officials, who have already met officials of the two divisions twice, admit poor finances have affected the operational efficiency of the ITIs, run by both the government and private enterprises. More than one-and-a-half million students graduate from ITIs every year.
“I don’t believe in a blame game but there is quite a challenge” said Sunil Arora, secretary, skill development and entrepreneurship. Another government official said at least 90% of ITIs must overhaul their outdated curricula. Machines and equipment used for teaching at these institutes are decades old, and do not help students prepare for a modern industry. “The two divisions have come to the new ministry, but they are not in great shape” a second official said, requesting anonymity.
On 16 April, the cabinet secretariat moved the training and apprentice divisions of the labour ministry to the skills ministry, which was formed in November 2014.
The move brought the ITIs and scores of other institutions under the skills ministry, empowering it.
The ITIs are a critical cog in India’s skills mission. The labour ministry has a target of skill-training 100 million people by 2022. This is second only to the target for the National Skill Development Corp.—which comes under the skills ministry—with a target of 150 million. With the transfer of the two divisions to the skills ministry, it automatically inherited the target of skill training an additional 100 million people by 2022.
The second official quoted above said the ministry would need more funds and is thinking of requesting industries to route some of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending towards skill development activities, especially in improving ITIs.
Arora said that Germany’s private and government sectors spend billions annually for a range of training programmes.”We would like more industry participation” he said.
Meanwhile, India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, has decided to set up centres of excellence at 45 ITIs in 2015-16. The focus of these centres—10 of which are in place—will be automobile training.
Other than providing machines for training, the car maker will also teach at these schools for nearly 50 days a year and award a joint certificate.
Pankaj Narula, executive director (service) at Maruti Suzuki, said the expanding automobile sector is finding it difficult to get enough trained technical manpower. Though Maruti Suzuki prefers ITIs, he said, many of these institutions don’t have modern facilities and are not well-versed with new technologies.
“The equipment they have is not the latest and for improving productivity, we thought of raising their technical skills” said Narula, adding that Maruti Suzuki and its dealership network are looking to hire nearly 1,500 well-trained people this year from ITIs.
The car maker that said each of the 45 ITIs will get machinery worth Rs.15 lakh and that the funds will come from their CSR corpus. Going forward, the company will engage more with students and ITIs.
(The article first appeared with The Mint)