Skill Training: Quality is the key for sustainability

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In this article, our guest author, Franz Probst, Founder & Chairman SkillSonics India Pvt. Ltd introduces international skills for India through his perspective on the need for quality in skill development. To date, SkillSonics and its Swiss and Indian partners have trained over 5000 entry level and existing technicians in India. To secure the sustainability of the implementation of the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India, the first training courses designed based on Swiss know-how for VET trainer professionals have started in Bangalore. With its quality assurance programs, SkillSonics and its Swiss partners lay the foundation for the sustainable implementation of high quality world-class skilling in India.

SkillSonics has enabled the training of apprentices in its various production technician programs for the past 9 years. The apprentices who have completed their training at companies and institutes have been absorbed by their companies or found good employment, and they have proven to be a well-organized, innovative and productive workforce.

franz-probst-skillsonicsSince 2015, SkillSonics and its Swiss partners, the Swiss Mechanical and Electrical Metal Engineering Industries (Swissmem), the Mechatronics School Winterthur (MSW) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) have worked towards developing and implementing a set of programs and courses to enhance the practical and didactic skills of trainers and examiners in India based on Swiss training methodologies and benchmarks. This “Quality Assurance Project” (QAP) is co-funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). The QAP’s objective is to ensure continued and consistent high quality of the apprenticeship training offered by SkillSonics and its partners under the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India (SVETII).

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QAP Instructor Course at Buhler India Pvt.Ltd

Swiss-Indian VET trainers, examiners and master trainers as well as managers with functions such as HR technical training, apprenticeship and production participate in the QAP programmes. By strengthening the performance of these key multiplicators and VET managers, the QAP ensures that the delivery of the SVETII programmes meets international standards and that the SVETII can be further up-scaled and expanded throughout India.

With the 12 day common course for all trainers, also senior instructors in the industry are prepared to become effective trainers and mentors responsible for building competencies and practical skills of their company’s trainees. One of them is C.V. Santhosh, a VET instructor and apprenticeship manager at Buhler India Pvt Ltd. in Bangalore. “I am fully satisfied with what I have learned. I improved my skills in annual training planning and reporting and my gained know-how in applied pedagogy will make my teaching more effective”, he says. Using different instructing methods such as cognitive apprenticeship and situated learning will enable him to improve the competencies of his apprentices.

Vivek has trained Multi-Skilled Production Technicians (MSPT) students at Rieter India Pvt. Ltd, in Pune for the last 5 years. He is pleased with the performance of the apprentices. Rieter started working with SkillSonics when the company needed trained employees urgently. India does not have enough youth sufficiently trained in technical skills. Therefore, Rieter started to collaborate with SkillSonics right from the start of the SVETII in 2008. In November 2016, the company seconded Vivek to the first quality assurance course delivered to further strengthen Rieter’s own apprenticeship training program. “I received for the first time a training where I was trained in different instructing techniques and class management”, Vivek sums up his experience after the course.swiss-training-skillsonics2

QAP Instructor Course at Buhler India Pvt.Ltd

Improving practical, methodological and didactic skills

The core objective of the Quality Assurance Project is to lay the foundation for improving the practical, methodological and didactic skills of trainers and managers involved in VET. As of September 2015, SkillSonics and its partners designed occupational profiles for instructors, examiners, master trainers and VET managers in line with the needs in India. They then developed the courseware in accordance with Swiss methodology and standards. The courseware for each program includes the competency profile, lesson plan, study material, trainers guide and training resources as well as assessment. In this manner, SkillSonics and its Swiss partners ensure training outcomes that are in line with the requirements of the Indian ecosystem while meeting international standards.

In the last part of the project that has just begun, master trainers from SkillSonics and its Swiss partners Swissmem, SFIVET, MSW and the Technical Training Center Winterthur (AZW) deliver all programs in India under real-life conditions. This allows to draw and implement learnings before the programmes are rolled out across India. Companies such as ABB, ACC, ACE Foundation, Bobst, Buhler, Burckhardt Compression, EFD Induction, GMM Pfaudler, MMTC, Rieter and Texmo have sent their trainers for training in India under the QAP’s first training courses.

Skilled Trainers as key multiplicators

The importance of skilled instructors and teachers for education and training cannot be emphasized enough. Whoever went to school can testify to this. Trainers are motivators, mentors and the key link between school and workplace. Well trained trainers ensure a skilled workforce that can learn more and discover, for example, new techniques and skills that will empower them – and their company. A good trainer will want to find out what works and what does not.

The feedback from the first QAP courses that have now been delivered shows that the motivation of trainers to undergo high quality training is very high, and it effects their careers. Kirit, a 30 year old skills instructor of GMM Pfaudler in Anand, Gujarat, is one of the trainers who did training under the QAP. He says: “I wasn’t expecting much from this course, but the course exceeded my expectations. I gained confidence and got training in a very systematic way which never happened before.

100 Training courses on offer

Generally, the shortage of qualified professionals with practical skills at international standards is one of the biggest challenges of emerging economies.

There is still a huge shortage of VET trainers in India where only 2 percent of the employed have undergone formal vocational education and training. The team of SkillSonics has been active in India since 2008 to help address this shortage. Today the company offers over 100 standard and customized training programs to engineering companies and institutes in the field of mechanical and electrical engineering. The programs are tailored to the Indian economic and cultural conditions, and India’s existing education and training system is considered. Depending on the program, successful trainees receive NSDC, skill sector council, Swiss partner or SkillSonics diploma and certificates. To date, 5,000 youth and existing workforce have been trained in India only.

The QAP is of deep relevance to VET. It is designed to have a lasting impact on the growth and economic development of India. By creating trainers with strong skills and competencies, the QAP contributes to maintaining quality not only when it comes to the design of training programs and courseware but – of equal importance – the course delivery through trainers with excellent own practical skills as well as strong teaching and mentoring competencies.

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