India faces complex challenges in creating the required quantity of skills-based jobs. How well have the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), a major source of skills training performed?
We continue to examine ITIs in light of more recent developments.
Of the nearly 15,000 ITIs, 84% are privately run. The 2017 Annual Report of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) estimates that 126 million individuals will require skilling by 2022 to be relevant to the job market. Which means, India needs more capacity to skill and this has resulted in ITIs sprouting all over the country.
- Rampant growth – The number of private ITIs in India has jumped from 2,000 to 11,000 in a span of five years. This indicates a serious lack of regulation in allowing an unchecked growth of ITIs. So much so, that reports have labeled it ‘a scam’ bringing into question the certification process of ITIs by the Quality Council of India which was tasked with accrediting ITIs between 2012-2016. Adding to the murkiness, audits of the Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGeT) show that private ITIs were certified even as they were being built or worse operating out of makeshift premises.
A concern echoed by MSDE Secretary K.P. Krishnan who has said that the quality of private skills training institutes was ‘worse’ than government skill centres. The ITI model is 70% hands-on skills training, 30% theory. However, the unavailability of quality training facilities in ITIs has weakened their very purpose. “Learning skills is not about the acquisition of knowledge in classrooms – it is actually doing things,” adds K.P Krishnan referring to the current state of ITIs.
- Self-grading – ITIs self-grade on a scale of 0-5 on 43 pre-defined parameters. The score is then validated by a third party independent auditor. A minimum score of 2.0 or 2.5 (for government and private ITIs respectively) is required for continued access to funding or to offer more courses. At present, mere 4,811 ITIs of nearly 15,000 have been graded.
- Low employability – ITIs register the biggest skill gap in its graduates across all sources of education. ITI pass-outs saw a steep 30% drop in employability between 2017-2018 according to the India Skills 2019 report. Quality assurance in ITIs has taken a major hit stemming from an archaic curriculum, sub-quality trainers, lack of training infrastructure, non-standardisation of assessment and certification. Overall, alignment of skills training imparted through ITIs to actual demand continues to play catch up.
Not all is doom and gloom.
Industry-Employer Engagement – Corporates such as Toyota Kirloskar are doing their bit. Toyota’s Technical Education Programme imparts hands-on training to ITI students across Toyota dealerships in India including through their Toyota Apprentice Scheme which has trained over 12,000 apprentices since 2002. Furthering their commitment to skills-based workforce development Toyota recently inaugurated a Centre of Excellence (an upgraded ITI) in Bengaluru, its fifth in Karnataka.
Similarly, the DGeT has partnered with Cisco and Accenture to impart digital literacy and advanced technology skills training through 227 ITIs across the country where 1,00,000 youth have been enrolled in phase one.
Maharashtra ITI Demand – In pockets of the country, such as in Maharashtra, ITIs have seen demand outstrip supply by 3 applications for every one seat. And the clamour seems to be market-linked as opportunities for job roles such as electricians and mechanics are aplenty. Another key factor for the rise in popularity for ITI courses is the apprenticeship link- a guaranteed apprenticeship placement after course completion at an ITI seems to be a major draw for students. This has upped employability of ITI graduates in Maharashtra compared to even engineering degrees. A revamp of the ITI curriculum has also increased its market relevance and raised the bar for vocational skills.
Planning Ahead – To fill a severe scarcity of trained manpower in the electronic vehicle (EV) sector, with MSDE estimating 1 crore new jobs will be created, 10 ITIs will be part of a pilot programme to impart skills training on repair & maintenance, and assembly of EVs.
ITI Revamp – The new regulator, the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET) has made re-hauling of 2,500 ITIs a priority number one. Upgradation of ITIs is essential according to an official of the MSDE to “take apprenticeship to the next level by boosting capacities 10-fold across all levels.”
World-Class Skills Centres – These WCSCs at the top of the league table of ITIs, are envisaged to become the benchmark for vocational skills training in India. The first state-of-the-art WSC being built in Bhubaneswar will impart demand-based skills in both manufacturing and services. “I want ITI youth in Odisha to be locked-in by corporate India much before they graduate,” enthuses Subroto Bagchi, Chairman, Odisha State Skill Development Authority. Delhi will have 19 WCSCs operational by August 2019.
Notwithstanding the various challenges, ITIs will remain a major conduit of vocational skills training and apprenticeships. The potential of ITIs if harnessed responsibly is enormous in skilling India’s youth.