Quality parameters that promote excellence in skilling are almost always included in a programme design – it is adherence to these norms that might pose a challenge.
Which begs the question – Why is it difficult to achieve and sustain quality? And how skill development is not and should not only be a matter of numbers.
Addressing these and more such questions can help us delve deeper and have a better understanding of how skilling programmes can ensure quality.
“Quality needs vision and investment. It’s an iterative process which starts with a vision of what you want to do,” emphasizes Anita Rajan, CEO, Tata STRIVE, when she tells us how quality is integrated into every aspect of their skilling programmes from people, processes, and technology. She adds, “investment doesn’t just refer to funds, but also a thorough investment of time and research”.
Tata STRIVE’s courses in hospitality offer an illustrative example of this:
Tata STRIVE, in partnership with IHCL (Indian Hotels Company Limited – also known as the Taj Group with its subsidiaries), collaborated towards developing content for courses in the hospitality sector. When SMEs from both the organizations completed the process, then begun setting up training facilities – inside of Taj Hotel premises and with funding support from IHCL.
It was then owing to an assortment of quality differentiators – interactive delivery, building problem-solving skills, delivery of relevant, industry-vetted content, the right equipment, and more – that the course turned out to be a learner favorite and an aspirational one.
It has, over the years, expanded to cover areas like Training of Trainer (ToT), implementing the jointly developed content in training centers even outside IHCL’s funding support, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), and knowledge partnerships.
Reflecting on this partnership, it is interesting to note how issues concerning quality of design and delivery across multiple components of the programme were carefully addressed and implemented, active participation of the IHCL team in every aspect was an important aspect.
Driving all of this were Tata STRIVE’s efforts towards standardization and maintaining quality. The impact of this programme stands at well over one lakh youth today, within a span of five years.
Standardizing courses and processes, and providing technological solutions (developed both in-house and in collaboration), not only helped scale up but also helped the ecosystem benefit. The establishment of Taj Tata STRIVE Hospitality Skill Centres underlines Tata’s vision of influencing standards of excellence in the hospitality sector at large. To recap – it was process standardization, and course design that was most crucial towards ensuring and achieving quality in skill development for Tata STRIVE.
That said, so was the need for qualified and well-trained trainers and facilitators – the agents at the core of every training and skill development programme. Irrespective of the institution’s size, course, location, etc. the role of a facilitator remains vital to the programme delivery. It is the quality of trainers, which ensures desirable outcomes in training, meaningful experiences, and learning that is measurable.
Skill training institutions can therefore spruce up the bar of programme delivery by setting and maintaining standards – in terms of courses offered, quality of trainers, and relevance for effective training.
Also read: Scalability in skill development – https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/scalability-in-skill-development/
But how does one measure quality?
Especially since it can be defined in numerous ways. Or as Ameya Vanjari, Head, Technology and Innovation, Tata STRIVE, puts it, “Is it the percentage of learners who get a job? Or is it low attrition rates? Is it the number of lives impacted? Or is it to see if we are reaching out to the right target groups?” Ameya goes on to say, “Metrics are set up to monitor quality, to ensure they are practiced and managed.”
He sums it up rather succinctly, “All our partners are able to see the value of these mechanisms in ensuring quality – with transparency.”
Furthering the stakeholder sentiment, Bhaskar Natarajan, Head, Programme Execution, Tata STRIVE, says, “Quality to me, is, whether a promise is delivered or not to all stakeholders. For parents, quality is whether the objective has been met; for the learner, it could be the delivery of the lesson; for employers, it is whether the students are ready to work, have good workplace exposure if he/she/they can be productive from day one; for the funder, it could be the value the programme is creating. Sustainability of quality is when students, after skill training, find a job and stay on – for a considerable period.”
Read more from Tata STRIVE – https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/tata-strive/
Tech – takes the lead
“For helping us create and maintain quality standards, technology was, and continues to be an enabler in the skilling ecosystem. With technology adoption comes new technological solutions, which help in maintaining the momentum, for example, emerging hybrid learning models,” says Sudhakar Gudipati, Head, Programme Development and Partnerships, Tata STRIVE, adding, “Technology helps in creating standards and greatly enhancing methodologies, which in turn enhance the quality of what is delivered.”
Technology has helped the organization in standardizing the processes right from the basics – mobilization, enrolment, counseling – thus furthering their quality commitment.
Taj Tata STRIVE Hospitality Skill Centres demonstrates the power of vision – how a clearly guided, inclusive strategy, that takes into account the skill gaps, gender gaps, youth aspirations as well as their expectations into account is crucial along with the need for a standardized system of training delivery – one that is relevant and robust.