By taking ownership of training, Ador Welding Academy (AdorWAC) has set many benchmarks on how the industry stands to gain by training their customers and workforce. A 100% subsidiary of Ador Welding Ltd, the academy is dedicated to the cause of training, supporting and evangelizing welding as a safe and secure career option in India. In this Skill Story, Raman Kumar, Chairman, AdorWAC recounts his passionate efforts and interventions in promoting the cause of welding in India and creating an ecosystem through training, skill development, research and consultancy.
Ador Welding (formerly, Advani Oerlikon Ltd), has been in the industry for 62 years, producing a wide range of welding products and one of our strategic initiatives in early days was to train and educate our customers in using the products. Another key objective was to establish good welding practices, lay down productivity parameters and so on, since we had a rich legacy of our collaboration with Switzerland. In the last 40 years, we have trained more than 30,000 welding professionals, including engineers, supervisors and managers.
We have set up benchmarked welding skilling centers in Pune and Raipur. These centers cater to the skill development and entreprenuership training of the welding community. We help them set up training centers by demonstrating what a good welding skilling center should be and we become their knowledge partners. For example, we have partnered with Pratham, ILFS, LabourNet, Ambuja Cement Foundation and some educational institutions who wanted to set up welding laboratories. We treat them as our franchises by helping them with infrastructure, training content, training-the-trainer programs, handholding in the pilot phase and assessments.
Careers path and salaries
One of the biggest challenges is to attract youngsters to welding and convincing them about a career. And, unfortunately welding as a career path is not even identified in the curriculum of polytechnics and engineering colleges. Welding exists as a trade in ITIs along with other trades like fitters, electricians, plumbers. Generally, a 10th class passout can learn basic welding, in about 12-14 weeks and start earning Rs 9,000 to Rs 10,000 a month, however they can go upto, Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 a month depending on the complexity of skills they’ve learnt. This is about salaries in India, when you go to Middle East it goes up by 3 to 4 times. The salary growth is directly commensurate growth in skills, knowledge and experience.
To reach higher notches of excellence, we need motivated and trained employees. To achieve this, you should attach higher value to human assets – higher salaries and better lifestyles can be the key motivators.
Welding is a very vast subject. It covers the creation of a simple structure like that of a gate to manufacturing a spacecraft or underwater welding for repairing oil rigs. And the practice of welding is basic to building infrastructure in the country. It has different levels of complexities depending on whether it is used in power plants, railway coaches, aircrafts or spacecrafts.
This offers an opportunity for the engineers, and the welders, not only to learn about the welding skills, but also learn about the process of welding, and how it can be managed and improved, and new fabrication practices for complex materials. There’s lot of theory, research and development, career prospects and production related practices, which the engineers can develop.
In our efforts to create curiosity and cultivate interest in this profession, we go to the colleges, we talk to the students about careers in welding; many colleges show interest because of the potential of growth in this field. To give them a feel of welding, we’ve set up the labs with simulators, along with videos and other learning material.
Making welding aspirational
The first thought that comes to our mind about welding is that it’s a sweaty job, physically laborious, posing health hazards with the light, heat and toxic fumes of melting the metal. Yes, it’s definitely not an easy job! But, now welding is getting automated, from manual welding we’ve moved on to robots and mechanized welding machines. The hazard part of it can be handled with proper use of safety equipment and using the personal protection gear. As one moves up from manual tasks to automated ones, they will need to have sound knowledge about operating these machines, if something is not going right, what corrections need to be made, be able to judge the quality of welding.
Women in welding profession
We have a special drive to make welding suitable for all the genders. There are certain processes of welding where the women are doing exceptionally well. We have trained girls in aviation welding sector and for special equipment fabrication center, and we find that the girls are as productive as the boys. We are working with some companies who share our vision with empowering women, like, we’ve partnered with Mahindra and Mahindra for their project Nanhi Kali for livelihood support. the welding process is no way threatening to the girls than it it to the boys.
Research and consultancy
To encourage R&D and innovation, identify the challenges and problems in the industry and propose them as real-life research projects to UG and PG students. We not only help them avoid taking up theoretical projects, with the practical projects and our mentors are assigned to them, they get access to our laboratories to carry out their experiments. So, we provide a platform to the engineering colleges apart from consulting and solving the industry issues.
On the positive side – need for cultural change
Today, just 5% to 6% of our workforce has had formal skill based training. We need a cultural change to attract more youngsters to vocational programs. The psyche of getting a Engineering or a B.Com degree is so strongly embedded our mindset. A welder may be earning more than a science graduate, but he’d be looked down upon.
I’m looking forward to a time when parents, who are the biggest influencers in career choices of their children in the Indian context, send their children voluntarily to a welding academy by paying few thousands rupees rather than lakhs of rupees on engineering or medicine degrees that don’t guarantee a job immediately. And today, there are many opportunities to do improve academic qualifications along with vocational courses.
Positively, we are moving towards that, it will take time and it’s not going to be easy.
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