On shaky ground

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: May 24 2010, 04:47am hrs
The existing capacity of industrial training institutes (ITIs) is underutilised and the employability of graduates is low. Only 50% of the ITIs have full seat utilisation. Of those with vacant seats, about one-third have more than 20% of their seats vacant, states a 2009 White Paper prepared by McKinsey & Company. The issues are manycurriculum is not geared towards industry requirements or students preferences and there is a shortage of quality faculty. Set up in the mid-1950s to assist school dropouts to find employment with a range of courses on offer from machine automation to tool maintenanceITIs could play a big role in bridging the skill gap that is staring at India.

To bridge the growing skill gap, the Central government had launched a scheme in 2008 to upgrade old ITIs and set up new ones. Under this, industry groups adopted institutes in their locality, while the government provided funds (Rs 2.5 crore to each ITI) as interest-free loans, payable over 30 years (with a moratorium of 10 years). Of the 2,000-odd ITIs in India, 1,396 were proposed to be brought under this model. So far, about 900 have partnered with various industrial groups. But the initiative has had its share of set backs.

When an industry takes up an ITI, there is a whole different varying set of curricula, methodology, management system, processes, etc. We tried to bring in a little bit of harmonisation and uniformity. It also meant to empower the leaders of the institutions to run those institutions in a professional manner, says Dilip Chenoy, CEO, NSDC. However, with factors such as limited ability to change curriculum, private management has not shown significant change in outcomes in most cases.

One of the institute management committee (IMC) chairman of an ITI points out how corruption is proving to be a roadblock, The government should publish a White Paper to see how the money allocated under the PPP scheme is being utilised or lying unspent, he says. He adds how unwanted restrictions from the Directorate of Employment and Training in the work of this autonomous body are causing a great concept to be stymied. I dont think even 10% of the funds have been used in the two and a half years since the scheme was launched, he adds. Another case of license raj crippling the education sector