The state of ITIs in India

SkillingIndia on December 18, 2012 Comments talks to Srinivas Chunduru, President - Corporate Strategy & HR, Piramal Enterprises Ltd....Excerpts of the interview:

Hiring of apprentices by the private sector needs to be changed from being employer-enforced to voluntary hiring,
opines Mr Srinivas Chunduru.

SkillingIndia: What are the demand and supply side issues on skilled manpower plaguing the country?

Srinivas Chunduru: The E&Y’s Sept. 2011 report says that the country’s workforce comprises only one million people per annum against the current domestic demand for 50 million. This deficit is estimated to grow to 57 million by 2013. Also, additionally we see that more than one fourth of the workforce is heading towards retirement (considering that most of the current working population is in the bracket of 25-55 years). Therefore, we are looking at a huge potential manpower, but we may not be equipped to train them. I believe, it is because, currently most people who are qualified to be good teachers usually choose teaching as an alternative profession. The reasons could vary from remuneration, recognition to lack of empowerment. But, the fact remains that there needs to be a shift in focus towards making the teaching profession much more lucrative. Another challenge, from the supply side is the lack of requisite infrastructure. Vocational courses in general are skill dependent and hence the lack of infrastructure becomes a considerable constraint.

On the other hand, the incentive for students to get certified in vocational studies is low because their jobs are not dependent on certification. We don’t have a system of continuous vocational education where one can take a break from regular stream of study to do vocational courses and then join back in the main stream again. Such a system has reaped benefits in countries like Canada and has made vocational studies a much more attractive and lucrative option for students.

SkillingIndia: What is the current capacity of Indian industrial training institutes (ITIs) for producing skilled manpower? How are they progressing in terms of achieving a full turnaround?

Srinivas Chunduru: Our current ITI syllabus is outdated. It needs to be more industry specific. The focus of ITI’s should be to bring out experienced freshers. This is the reason corporates hesitate to recruit from ITI’s since they feel the need to retrain these recruits.

SkillingIndia: What are the major issues that ITIs face today?

Srinivas Chunduru: One of the most important challenges for ITIs today is to get people to recognize and accept their seriousness and utility. While the government has made a good beginning, it would be useful to have a method of standardizing and validating the content of the courses offered. Since ITIs offer specialized skill sets, having good trainers is an important issue. Further, having a robust infrastructure would be a definite important need for ITIs today. Since vocational courses largely cater to the unorganized sector, employers in this sector don’t really consider skill education as a priority to give employment.

SkillingIndia: Any recommendations for improvements?

Srinivas Chunduru: The accreditation body should liaise with the market to ensure the course is in line with business and the market needs. The process of accreditation should be standardized and reliable. Suitably trained instructors need to be introduced and mechanisms to constantly update and train the trainers have to be put in place. Currently, many workshops and laboratories have obsolete equipment. Thus, the issue of poorly maintained infrastructure facilities at ITIs should be addressed on a priority basis. Collaboration with the industry for campus hiring may also be a useful step in the direction of getting better acceptability from the industry and the market. As of now, the apprenticeship training scheme is not highly successful because of its rigid norms, and it has limited private sector participation and also pays low stipends. Hiring of apprentices by the private sector needs to be changed from being employer-enforced to voluntary hiring. The rules can also be made less stringent. This is likely to enable the private sector to voluntarily hire apprentices. It is, therefore, imperative that the scheme is made development-oriented rather than regulation-oriented.

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Is apprenticeship an effective way in skilling youth along with school?

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