The road to empowerment

Written by Abhishek Chakraborty | Updated: Mar 3 2014, 07:50am hrs
In his Vote on Account 2014 speech, finance minister P. Chidambaram stressed on the need for skill development for better growth of the country. He also said Rs 1,000 crore set apart in FY14 would be transferred to the National Skill Development Trust and proposed the transfer of another sum of Rs 1,000 crore next year (2014-15) to scale up the programme. No doubt, the availability of skilled manpower is one of the major challenges for India Inc.

The dearth of skilled manpower is costing India dear. According to a recent Assocham report, Indias infrastructure industry is facing a significant 20% dearth of project managers leading to project delays and cost overruns. As per a study commissioned by the ministry of tourism in 2013, the supply of skilled/professionally trained manpower is estimated to be 8.92% of the total requirement in the hospitality sector.

To bridge this gap and get better results, industry players have started coming up with their own sets of skill development courses. Maruti is running a PPP model in Gujarat, where they train tribal people in mechanics, driving, personality development, English speaking, petrol pump supervision etc. Till date, the centre has trained about 4,200 students and about 80% of the students are now earning a livelihood based on the skills they acquired here.

We are working closely with the ministry of tribal development department, at All Gujarat Institute of Driving, Technical Training and Research to impart high quality driving training to tribal youth, to make them employable, says Ranjit Singh, deputy general manager, CSR & Sustainability at Maruti Suzuki India, adding, Today, over 4,500 young tribal peoplemostly landless farm workers and unskilled construction workershave been trained, groomed and employed.

Additionally, Maruti Suzuki has set up the Maruti Centre for Excellence (MACE) and partnered with vendors to build competencies in the growing car market in the country. Through MACE, a non-profit organisation, Maruti works closely with vendor partners to implement world-class practices like total quality management, total productive maintenance and team-oriented problem-solving techniques.

MACE was formed about four years ago to bring significant change in working and efficiencies of our tier-2 and tier-3 vendors. They are like the last link of the value chain but most critical, adds Singh. They even absorb few students on merit. We absorb students from ITIs in our workshops through our dealer partners and over 7,800 students have been placed pan-India last year, says Singh.

MACE conducts training on different topics annually, with about 2,000 members attending the training programmes. About 100 programmes on 40 subjects are organised every year. In the last five years, as many as 1,00,040 persons have attended these programmes, adds Singh.

Employability is a vital issue plaguing any industry today, more so in the technology domain. Today, according to industry reports, only four out of 10 engineers are found to be employable in India. This implies the dearth of technically-sound engineers with a balanced knowledge of fundamental engineering concepts as well as application of the same.

MathWorks has come up with active learning techniques and the Hardware for Project-Based Learning initiative to provides hands-on learning opportunities to students with Matlab, Simulink and low-cost hardware platforms such as Lego, Arduino and others.

Our MakerZone enables students and hobbyists to access a rich pool of resources to create hardware projects on a range of low-cost hardware using Matlab and Simulink, says Kishore Rao, managing director, MathWorks India, adding, We also conduct regular free seminars across cities so that engineering faculty members are familiarised with our products. Giving an example, Rao says, The Manipal Institute of Technology have signed up for a campus-wide licence for the MathWorks offerings for anytime, anywhere software access to students and faculty members.

Similarly, ThoughtWorks, a software company, has introduced a two-year entry-level programmeSTEPto make freshers industry-ready. The programme also allows students to earn a stipend amount of R8,000 per month during the first year and Rs 10,000 per month during the corresponding year.

Students get to work on real-world software projects for 30-40% of the time. This also helps create a good bond between the students and the employees with whom they are going to be working, on completion of the internship, says Akash Agrawal, ThoughtWorks India MD.

Their first batch will come out in July, and there are chances that few of them would be absorbed by ThoughtWorks. Given the fact that students would be absorbed at the salary levels offered to entry-level engineering graduates, we don't expect any student not to opt for ThoughtWorks post-completion of the programme, Agrawal adds.

Not too far behind, Lupin has introduced a standardised induction programme called UDBHAV where each employeeup to middle management levelundergoes a 12-day module from day two of joining the organisation.

The programme is aimed at providing structured and standardised inputs related to building life skills, inculcating the shared vision of the company and the values thereof, familiarisation with and building a common understanding of the expectations from every employee, says Divakar Kaza, president, human resources, Lupin Ltd. Further, to manage the transition of managing self, to managing others/teams, they have the Leader Plus and Manager Plus programmes. They also have launched two headway programmesTop 100 Managers and Expanding Horizonswhere they nurture, groom as well as provide job rotation, enrichment and enhancement opportunities to deserving employees.