Auto focus

Automakers go the extra mile to build skills

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on January 16, 2018

Maruti Suzuki students at ITI Pusa undergo training from a Japanese expert

This is critical for a potential superpower like India

With India all set to be the world’s third largest producer of cars by 2020, the bonding between man and machine will get even stronger. It is already the No 1 producer of two-wheelers and, going forward, the right skills will become paramount as the auto arena gears up for huge technological challenges.

Indian automakers are, therefore, pulling out all stops to stay ahead of the curve. Maruti Suzuki, for instance, has teamed up with over 140 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) since 2005 in the area of skill development. Thus far, over 14,000 students have benefited with nearly half the number recorded last year alone. “More than 2,500 are working in Maruti Suzuki dealer workshops,” says Pankaj Narula, Service Head, Maruti Suzuki.

The company recognises that there is a big gap between required and available skill sets at the ITIs.

“In recent years, the automobile industry has evolved in vehicle technology, product range and overall quality,” he says. Equipment and tools used for service and repair are now far more sophisticated and can only be handled by trained technicians.

The ITIs offer training on motor mechanic vehicle modules, while the more advanced Automobile Skill Enhancement Centres (ASECs) at ITI Pusa in Delhi, ITI Dhoraji, Rajkot (Gujarat) and ITI Tollygunge (Kolkata) provide skilled courses in auto body paint and repair.

Foriegn trainers

Maruti recently invited a Japanese trainer at ITI Pusa, which was a first of its kind. The Human Resources and Industry Development Association in Japan helped identify the trainer who had over 40 years of experience in automobile service. He imparted technical training and knowledge in advanced automobile technologies as well as best practices in service training to the ITI Pusa students and faculty.

Maruti now plans to scale up its skill development drive which will see 10 more ITIs added by the end of this year while doubling the number of ASECs from 52 to 100.

Its closest rival, Hyundai, has joined hands with 25 ITIs since 2012 and is now extending this bonding to polytechnic institutes. These include Chandigarh Polytechnic College, Mohali, as well as others in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Namakkal (Tamil Nadu).

Rakesh Srivastava, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Hyundai Motor India, says this year will see partnerships grow with at least one ITI per State where a two-year motor mechanic vehicle course is offered.

“Students are further given on-the-job training at Hyundai workshops. To support ITIs, the company provides a car, engine, gearbox, technical wall charts, various cut sections, leaning modules and handbooks,” he adds. Over the last three years, Hyundai has hired nearly 750 students.

On the two-wheeler front, TVS Motor Company has signed MoUs with 10 vocational training institutes to help out freshers (school dropouts) as well as up-skill the existing staff at its dealerships.

Each institute trains up to three batches of 40-60 technicians, while TVS also conducts sales executive programmes in five technical institutes. It recently joined hands with Nachimuthu Polytechnic College in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu to develop a specialised diploma engineering course which strives to impart industry practices and improve the skills of instructors and students.

“We have tie-ups with 20 ITIs in Tamil Nadu for selecting trade apprentices as well as help in implementation of theoretical and practical training,” says R Ananda Krishnan, Senior Vice-President, Human Resources at TVS Motor.

Lack of skilled workers

However, the grim reality remains that of the 30-odd lakh job hunters who flood the market annually, only a sixth are considered ‘employable’. “Companies in the manufacturing sector are grappling with the skill gap issue and find it hard to find the right candidates,” he adds.

While the automotive sector is expected to create 15 million direct jobs by 2022, the growing skill gap in India is projected to be over 25 crore workers by 2022. According to Krishnan, 20-30 per cent of engineering graduates do not find jobs, while many others get something well below their qualifications.

“There is a huge gap between the engineering curricula and industry’s requirements. These result in significant time spent by companies on training and unlearning/retraining new talent,” he says.

Published on December 08, 2016

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