Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in India are a major pipeline for skills-based and vocational training. From 59 institutions in 1956, there are now 15,042 ITIs (as of December 2018) with seating capacity of 1,865,620 in 2016 and a further increase of 2,94,196 seats in 2018. This marks a strong conviction among policy makers to continue to advance ITIs for skills training.
But are they up to the mark?
Established as post-secondary institutes under the Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGET) and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), training in ITIs is imparted in over 130 trades (engineering and non-engineering) ranging from six months to two years to youth with a minimum Grade 8-12 qualification. On completion, candidates sit the All India Trade Test and are awarded the National Trade Certificate.
Although ITIs are considered ‘legacy vocational training infrastructure’, they were rejuvenated (at least in policy) in the government’s National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 whose core objective was to formulate an overarching framework for all skilling initiatives in the country in order to take on the challenge of skilling at the required scale, pace, sustainability and quality.
ITI graduates have the option of enrolling in apprenticeship training under the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme; the objective being,
“Training imparted in Institutions alone is not sufficient for acquisition of skills and needs to be supplemented by training in the actual work place.”- DGET
What Does the Evidence Say?
However, the relevance of ITIs has come under the spotlight in recent times. The latest India Skills Report cited a marked drop of 30% in the employability of ITI pass-outs between 2017-2018. Although possible causative factors were not stated we get clues from previous research- Quality of VET in India: The Case of Industrial Training Institutes, conducted by IIM Bangalore and the University of Cologne.
The paper aims to provide empirical evidence on the quality of TVET imparted by regular ITIs and ‘upgraded ITIs’- the Centres of Excellence. In this article, we focus on major findings from regular ITIs in both rural and urban areas in Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi.
- Theoretical instruction is the dominant form of skills training in ITIs.
- Mismatch between skills training and industry demand is rife.
- Majority of instructors have no pedagogical background seriously limiting their effectiveness as teachers
- In 50% of cases studied, shortage of instructors was leading to hiring of part-time or fixed-term staff, seriously impacting training quality as temporary staff were often inadequately skilled
- High attrition rate of candidates before training completion
- More than 30% of graduates unable to find suitable jobs
In general, principals of the ITIs surveyed cited ‘employability and stakeholder satisfaction’ as the key outcomes to measure the quality of training; and rightly so. ‘Quality’ here is determined by how relevant the skills are of ITI trainees in relation to market demand and how quickly they are absorbed in suitable roles after course completion.
“Our quality is measured by what our trainees have learned here, we focus on the output. When they get a job afterwards, then we know they had quality training.” (ITI Karnataka)
Quality Input Factors
These are instructors, curriculum, infrastructure and tools. It was widely acknowledged that instructors needed to enhance both their trade knowledge and teaching methods. However, the inability of the ITI heads to agree on how ‘training the trainer’ could be implemented was indicative of an absence of standardisation of the same. Moreover, the frequency of training was found to be grossly inadequate.
“They get a few days of training every three or four years, but only in technical aspects and not in teaching methods.” (ITI Orissa)
The lack of quality was also found to pervade to infrastructure and equipment- from shortage of appropriate machinery, to unavailability of physical space for hands-on training.
These inadequacies go against the very genesis of ITIs. Are we squandering vast resources in propagating ITIs if the core objective i.e. skill acquisition to boost employability- remains severely unfulfilled?
Let’s turn to the curriculum itself. The quote below sums up the unanimous agreement between ITI heads.
“We are using the latest curriculum, but we are not satisfied with it. It is too vast, with too much theory and not enough practical parts.” (ITI Tamil Nadu)
Whilst this research does not intend to cast generalisations over all ITIs in the country it cuts through anecdotal accounts with factual evidence of the overall efficaciousness of training indicating a pressing need to integrate quality management principles in ITIs.
Next up– Quality of TVET in ‘upgraded ITIs’- the Centres of Excellence.