Mr. Kumar was Chief Guest at the Certificate Ceremony organised for the trainers who completed our Capacity Building of Trainers in Employability Skills Programme at the Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Arab Ki Sarai, Nizamuddin. What were the main challenges you faced after taking over as Director of the Department of Training & Technical Education (DTTE)?
We had insulated ourselves from the outside world and we were unaware of the new machines, new technology, new methodology and new pedagogy. The worst part was that despite having tonnes of money, we hadn’t procured new machines or renovated our buildings. As Director of the Department of Technical Education, I wanted to change that.
I realised that we needed to interact with industry and industry associated organizations on a much broader scale as without this our trainees wouldn’t get good placements. In fact, CII and PhD Chamber of Commerce had approached us, but we were not responding. So when I came in, I welcomed them with equal footing, ensuring that they could navigate comfortably through the bureaucracy and with them came the industry.
Many corporates, in fact, want to work with the ITIs because Polytechnic courses are longer, for three to four years. With ITIs corporates can hire people for the operation level within two years. So we encouraged partnerships.
We also had tie-ups with Samsung and Toyota, but these were dormant and there was no scaling up. So we worked on the procurement of new machines and invited people from industry to set up centres for excellence within our premises. Maruti, Seimens, Daikin, Oriental Insurance, IGL have done this. I am happy to share that Hyundai has also set up a centre for excellence at our Pusa Institute of Technology, Mercedez-Benz has come forward as well, and they will be giving us equipment and also a training car.
We want to create a win- win situation where my institutions get some training, the industrial partner gets the required workforce, and my students get the required placements.
How important is it for a craft instructor to be a mentor?
Ultimately when the student leaves the department after one or two years, he/she should be very well equipped technically as well as in terms of soft skills, hygiene issues and grooming. All these issues need to be addressed.
These kids belong to lower middle-class backgrounds and they don’t have the support base of Papa (father) or chacha (uncle) to latch on to. They don’t have any mentors at home and so we have to work on both the fronts.
During our training sessions, we realised that a number of trainers lack basic computer skills, even those who are from technical trades. In fact, the trainees seem to grasp new technologies faster than the trainers. Why do you think this is the case?
As trainers, we are dealing with generation X. Most of my trainers are 45 years or more so they are not very accustomed to using computers. But that many of them had also reached a sort of inertia. The fact is that a whole new set of responsibilities come with the purchase of a new machine; you have to learn about the technology and how to use it and you also have the responsibility to train your students. So people weren’t purchasing new machines to avoid this. They had become complacent and were happy getting their salaries without being accountable. We wanted to change that.
Do you consider it a challenge that you are training workers for the private sector when many of them aspire to have government jobs?
Even the corporates are upset that they are not getting the right type of trainees, with the right skills, mindset or people who are focused. Many of them would like to gain some experience in the private sector and then switch over to the government sector.
In India, Government jobs are most attractive but they are only available to the select few who can compete. Gradually the number of government jobs is also shrinking, especially at the lower levels in the hierarchy where they are increasingly being outsourced. We have no option but to go to the private sector and we have to train people for everything. Some might go for government jobs, some towards the private sector and others might become entrepreneurs.
And there are many opportunities available for which people need to be trained. Nowadays Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) is emerging as a very big sector and there is a huge deficit of trained manpower. There are also services being generated through web-based platforms where there are jobs for plumbing, electrician, carpentry etc. for which they need a whole lot of people.
Are there any specific skilling courses that you have introduced to cater to the service industry?
We have introduced and want to introduce more, short, top-up courses.Our fitter course, for instance, is a one-year programme after which we have a 15-day course with the Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) facility. These trainees are then absorbed by the IGL distributors, so they are placed as well. A simple plumber will get paid Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 for a job, but once they learn to do these LPG and PNG jobs they can earn Rs. 20,000. It’s such value addition.
This is an upcoming industry; it is environment-friendly and plenty of jobs are going to come into this industry.
An area that we also want to look into is lift installations services.