About 1.5 million students pass out of the Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) every year and this number is only set to grow further. On paper, things look good for various industries picking students from ITIs but the real scenario is quite different. In reality, multiple industries face problems with the employable quotient of these students or their real-world skills in simpler words. The problem mainly is that for years the curriculum at ITIs was lagging behind the technology being used in the market. The same held true for the automotive sector too, which banks on ITIs for a large chunk of the mechanics joining the after sales service network.
In wake of this problem, the Government updated the curriculum in 2014, bringing it in line with modern technologies. However, that wasn't enough to arrest the problem of real-world skill transfer as the teachers at ITI weren't completely trained to handle the new syllabus. This meant that vehicle makers had to step in to plug the large practical knowledge gap, as they were the ones making and selling the new technologies. If not, their dealers would have to continue spending about 6 months bringing the trainee mechanics up to speed with the market requirements.
This is where Maruti Suzuki saw an opportunity to help ITI students to come up the learning curve. The company collaborated with ITIs in order to impart up to date and modern training to students taking up automotive trades. In 2005, Maruti Suzuki tied with ITI Pusa, Delhi, in order to enhance the effectiveness and scope of the syllabus. Since then, the carmaker has expanded its association to 141 ITIs across India. We were invited to ITI Pusa to take a look at the training module, supporting infrastructure and the training methodologies introduced by Maruti Suzuki. This programme is in line with the Indian Government's Skill India programme and is already making a significant contribution to the cause.
ITI Pusa – The difference Maruti Suzuki created
At ITI Pusa, Maruti Suzuki has invested about Rs 1 crore to set up infrastructure that can support the training for working on modern technologies such as Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) among others. The company has also provided dedicated trainers to assist ITI teachers to enhance the skill development of the students since the curriculum at ITI consists of about 70% practical sessions. The company presently supports three trades at ITIs – Motor Mechanic Vehicle, Auto Body Paint and Auto Body Repair.
Presently more than 150 students at the Pusa centre are enrolled in the trades being taught in collaboration with Maruti Suzuki. Students enrolled in these trades can easily be distinguished due to the different uniform and the modern infrastructure they have access to. Maruti Suzuki has provided body shells, mechanicals and electricals from vehicles on sale presently in order to keep students abreast with the technology evolution.
In line with the company's CSR objectives and the Skill India objectives, Maruti Suzuki has now invited a Japanese trainer to train the students at ITI Pusa. This is the first time a Japanese instructor is giving lessons in any ITI. The move is supported by Human Resources and Industry Development Association (HIDA), Japan, which has helped identify the trainer and borne the cost as well. The key takeaway for the students from the Japanese instructor is the knowledge about Japanese work culture and etiquette, which leads to better productivity and quality, said Ranjit Singh, General Manager, CSR & Sustainability, Maruti Suzuki. Singh added that the Japanese training module also includes detailed and simple training modules that have been translated into Hindi for easier understanding of students. The Japanese trainer will also train the resident trainers at ITI Pusa in order to ensure that future students too make the best of this knowledge.
The training module by HIDA includes classroom lectures and practical sessions, aided by videos. We attended one of the classrooms and witnessed that every aspect ranging from professional behaviour to approaching a problem was being discussed with the students. The module also includes technical training on the basics of automobile repairing but more importantly focusses on new technologies, which is key to the improvement of usable skills of these students once they graduate.
Benefit for students & employers
As a result of the initiatives led by Maruti Suzuki, students at ITIs are benefiting immensely. Last year all 144 students studying the Maruti Suzuki training module were employed by Maruti Suzuki dealers. Since these students were trained on modern and relevant tools and machinery, they were able to start contributing to their employer's benefit right from the start. As an employee, it meant a quicker growth path for them as they now didn't have to spend time unlearning parts of their ITI training in order to learn newer things. As a result of a better start, students getting employed at a starting salary of Rs 8,000 to 10,000 have a better chance of growing to levels of as much as Rs 50,000 within 6 to 7 years, depending on individual performance.
As new cars continue to grow in numbers in India, it is imperative to have quality workforce in the vehicle service & repair sector. Gaps left here would not only affect the pocket and convenience of customers but would also have a negative impact on the dealer and the OEM.
Maruti Suzuki is already working with 141 ITIs across India and will increase this number to 151 within 2016, said Singh. He also informed that 52 ITIs of the 141 have a setup similar to the Pusa centre. The remaining centres have a limited interference from the carmaker and are mostly limited to theoretical knowledge. Since practical knowledge is key to the automotive trades in discussion, Maruti Suzuki plans to expand its coverage scope across more ITIs in the coming time.
Around 6,000 students graduate from ITIs across India in automobile trades and about 2,500 of these are employed by Maruti Suzuki dealers alone. This shows the success achieved by the programme, under which students are not just being hired by Maruti Suzuki and other auto companies but other sectors including government too are hiring these students.
Maruti Suzuki has laid the foundation of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme on three pillars – Community Development, Road Safety and Skill Development. The last one, also being the subject of this story is going to witness major growth in the coming years. In 2016, Maruti Suzuki invested Rs 78.46 crore in CSR activities, of which about Rs 10 crore was allocated to skill development. Going forward, this investment will see a growth as the automobile industry and market are set to grow in India.
Express Drives Analysis
India's automotive sector is already the single-largest contributor to the country's GDP and this contribution will further grow in the coming years. According to the Automotive Mission Plan (AMP) 2026, over the next decade, the Indian automotive sector is expected to contribute more than 12 % of the national GDP and account for more than 40 % of the domestic manufacturing sector. In addition, around 13 % of the excise duty collection is expected to come from the Indian automotive industry.
Under the AMP 2026, 'Skill India' is a key focus area and the number of direct and indirect jobs by the Indian automotive industry is set to grow from 2 million in 2015, to over 65 million by 2026. Such a massive growth needs to be supported by a steady flow of skilled people, else not only will the plan fail, the economy too will take a massive hit. Aware of this problem, Maruti Suzuki made a timely start and has now started reaping the results. What needs to be appreciated is the fact that the company is doing this for the entire sector and beyond. This approach needs to be adopted by more companies if we are to have 65 million aptly skilled people in the auto sector by 2026. Maruti Suzuki is already fulfilling the demands of its dealers for skilled mechanics and this proves the success potential of this model for other companies.
As of today, estimates peg the number of people employed directly or indirectly by each car to be around four and this number will grow further. The benefits of having all these people to be aptly skilled will range way beyond cheaper and better vehicle maintenance. A well-maintained vehicle is safer to drive and pollutes the environment lesser as well. Starting early is mostly key to long-term success and Maruti Suzuki's work with the ITIs is a good example of a holistic development for the society, industry and the economy.