The ‘image’ of the mechanic needs resurrection: Nikunj Sanghi, chairman, ASDC

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July 26, 2021 4:00 AM

The ASDC was created because the automotive industry was concerned that students passing out from ITIs and other educational institutions are not industry-ready.

Nikunj Sanghi, President, Automotive Skills Development CouncilNikunj Sanghi, President, Automotive Skills Development Council

Jobs such as auto mechanics and technicians are still not aspirational. This, Nikunj Sanghi says, is one of ASDC’s biggest challenges. “We are only able to attract those people who don’t have any other option,” he says. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that unless these jobs become aspirational, these will never attract good talent, and that the ‘image’ of the mechanic is now undergoing resurrection. Excerpts:

What was the idea behind the creation of the Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC)?

The ASDC was created because the automotive industry was concerned that students passing out from ITIs and other educational institutions are not industry-ready. Also, the syllabus they were following was not what the industry required. The industry said it needs to put in a lot of effort, both in terms of time and money, to make these students industry-ready.

When the ASDC started functioning, we talked to component manufacturers (represented by the ACMA), vehicle manufacturers (SIAM) and distributors (FADA) on what kind of job roles are available, what kind of training people need, and so on.

Does the ASDC ensure jobs?

Our aim is to make people industry-ready; we don’t ensure jobs. But more and more people are getting jobs because our industry connect is very strong; we know what the industry wants and we train students in the job roles the industry really needs.

Also, we don’t train people directly; we have training partners who provide short-term courses from two weeks to 16-odd weeks. Once the training is complete, we assess the candidate, and if she passes we give a certificate endorsed by the NSDC and all the three auto associations, and that candidate can then apply for a job.

Do you also train people in entrepreneurship?

We advise them on loans, especially Mudra loans (nationalised banks offer Mudra loans). Entrepreneurship is a part of their training, especially in 16-week courses. We tell them how to become an entrepreneur, how to register their firm, and so on.

Skills such as carpenter or plumber, we have seen, are not really aspirational. How aspirational are jobs such as auto mechanic or technician?

As of now these jobs are not aspirational, and that is one of our biggest challenges. Unless these jobs become aspirational, they will never attract good talent. Currently, we are only attracting talent that is not able to find any other option. What we are trying to do is get into future skills, like artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital marketing, digital content development, electric vehicles, and so on. Future skills will make these jobs aspirational.

We are also working towards global employment of the people we train; for example, we are working with Germany and Japan and trying to develop technicians for those countries. This has taken a backseat due to Covid-19, but there is a huge demand for technicians across the world. This will make automotive technician jobs very aspirational.

Due to BS6, vehicles have become very advanced. Do existing technicians need to be upskilled?

At times you need to know how to operate a computer in order to repair a BS6 vehicle (it’s not just a mechanical device, but has turned electromechanical). Technicians need to be proficient in electronics, mechanical and electrical skills to service BS6 vehicles. In partnership with OEMs and training providers, we are upskilling roadside mechanics and technicians, and have already trained about 50,000 such people.

What does an OEM gain out of training roadside mechanics?

Roadside mechanics are brand ambassadors of a company; a lot of people ask roadside mechanics on which vehicle to buy, and decide based on their advice.

Also, it’s the social responsibility of OEMs in keeping roadside mechanics employed because the latter have been serving OEMs for decades.

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