ASDC empowers the automotive value chain through skill-based training aligned with industry needs

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Being the first sector skill council in India, the Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC) has taken pioneering steps to meet the needs of the industry through relevant skilling of people. In this Skill Story, Sunil K Chaturvedi, CEO, ASDC, takes us through the evolution of the organization and how it is positively impacting the industry through quality and improved productivity. Let’s know more about the steps ASDC is taking towards skilling based on demand aggregation for the automotive industry in India.

ASDC is the first industry sector of India to form a council for skill development. Five years ago, after the first National Skills Policy had been framed, we proposed that industry has to be involved for adequate and relevant skilling of people. The sectoral focus was essential for each industry to be responsible for its training standards and certifications. India adopted sectoral approach to skilling and our sector came forward and promoted ASDC. Society of Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) and Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Association (FADA) came together along with our Line Ministry through Department of Heavy Industry in the Ministry of Heavy Industry & Public Enterprises along with NSDC established India’s first sector council. ASDC is registered as a society and is led by the industry.

The mandate for ASDC is very clear; identify the skill requirements of the sector and build a skilling ecosystem that delivers trained and certified manpower. ITIs’ system of training has not been adequate and that’s the reason industry had to address the skilling needs on their own. Therefore, as an industry-driven platform, ASDC is aligned to industry’s expectations.

ASDC covers the entire automotive value chain, which includes R&D, Manufacturing , Sales and Service and Road Transportation domain that includes Driving as well as skills related to Petrol Pump operations. This includes a wide range of skills – design, development, testing, quality, machining, welding, forging, casting, assembly, selling of components, selling of vehicles, servicing of components, servicing of vehicles. Also, a range of driving skills right from two wheelers to heavy commercial vehicles like trucks, buses, taxis, chauffeurs, three wheelers come under the scope of ASDC. Then, there are skilling needs of petrol pump operations, people who deliver the fuel to your tank, people who clean and polish the vehicles and check the pollution levels, repair tyre puncture…so there’s a long list of skills that we are working on!

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Skill Competitions provide an opportunity to showcase talent.This picture is from a competition in R&D skill category of “Prototype Modelling”

QPs and NOS and training partner affiliation

Skill standards are the building blocks for an effective skilling ecosystem. These standards capture the details of employer’s skill expectations for a job role. For the first time in India, Qualification Packs (QPs) and National Occupational Standards (NOS) were developed three to four years ago. ASDC carried out this major project by involving several hundred expert level representatives from industry covering all the functional domains, the geographic spread as well as a cross section of small, medium and large members of our industry so as to capture a truly representative data for our sector.

We’ve developed 188 QPs. However, these are not cast in stone or frozen in time. There is a built-in mechanism to carry out continuous refinement through a process of feedback, collation and rationalization. After nearly three years, we are now in the process of taking up revision exercise which will not only use the feedback collected thus far, but also would capture changing trends in materials, technology, processes and legislations where applicable.

Training delivery

Training is delivered at the centres run by our training partners through an affiliated model. We have a process of affiliating training partners and accredit their centres based on an evaluation process. We help building up on the competencies of the training partners in terms of processes, standards and best practices. So, for affiliation and accreditation of centers, they must have facilities, have trainers, and course content aligned to our QPs and NOSs. We follow strict due diligence process while evaluating the centers. Thus, we address the infrastructure, facility and course content requirements. Moreover, the training centers can only deploy ASDC approved trainers.

Assessment and Certification

QPs and NOSs reflect the need of the industry for a particular job role. We’ve built an assessment process that is independent, robust and reliable. Through our affiliated model only ASDC certified assessors are allowed to carry out assessments of candidates. We have a systematic and rigorous process of approving and onboarding of these assessors.

ASDC and “Make in India” program

The automotive sector is critical to the success of “Make in India” program. Automotive sector contributes nearly 50 % of the manufacturing GDP which is about 7 % of national GDP. It’s a very large sector and it has multiplier effect on employment; it attracts one of the largest chunks of FDIs, making India a global hub for sourcing of vehicles and parts supplies to international markets and has a huge untapped potential for exports.

It’s a matter of great satisfaction that in a short time, we have been able to cover a large number of districts that offer an ASDC qualification. Of course, all the centers are not of the same caliber; we are in the process of grading the institutes to ensure that we bring them up as per ASDC norms and help them perform consistently. We are trying to drive quality in many ways. In fact, the theme of the recent ASDC annual conclave was ‘quality is they key’ in skill development. The conclave was held in Chennai where 300 delegates participated. We had interesting panel discussions and signed agreements with national and international organisations, each with a potential to enhance quality in ASDC programs.

We have a strong industry connect ; on the manufacturing side, companies like Hero Moto, Toyota-Kirloskar, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra, Sona Steering and Sansera run training centers by identifying youth around their locations, put them through programs, get them assessed and certified, so that they can be picked up by the industry at large. On the dealership side, many have opened ASDC centers such as in Alwar, Jaipur, Bangalore, Gwalior, Kolkata, Patna and other places. We are also working on international benchmarking by studying the best practices from Australia, UK, Germany, USA and Canada. This should help us in improving our processes and in meeting global standards in terms of quality and consistency.

Global benchmarking

Our goal is to strengthen the skilling process through timely interventions. We also work with the government on policy level interventions such as standardization of norms.  Another instance, is our work with the Ministry of Transport in regards to skilling of drivers in relation to the critical challenge of road safety. And, we are implementing RPL as a strategy for making certification inclusive. This implies testing and certifying a large number of people who have informally acquired various skills on their own while on the job but do not have a formal certification to confirm their skill level. RPL assessment would align them with NSQF framework and bring them into the mainstream pool of skilled manpower.

In a globalized scenario, the skill requirement also tends to become global. if we look at any large plant or component manufacturer, the systems and processes on the shop floor are just as they are in Germany or Japan. Therefore, the people required there also need skills as per international standards. ASDC is working with several countries to explore collaborative work in joint certification.We already have an agreement with IMI, the UK body for Sales and Service domain.

Product design and engineering

We need to start from ground zero, look at the market requirements for the core automotive features, safety, environmental issues, styling – all that requires strong product engineering. It’s not just about the equipment and laboratories and other infrastructure that may be available – a critical issue is who will operate these equipments; are there relevant skills available?

Skilling in higher education

The skill landscape in automotive sector presents a range of skills from entry level to advanced levels. We need mechanics and operators to work with the equipment; we also need R&D to fulfill design and engineering functions besides quality assurance and testing. Hence we’ve tied up with higher education institutions like Amity, Chitkara, MGR and other universities where engineering graduates, while they are in undergraduate programs, also take up ASDC qualifications electives in Manufacturing, R&D, Quality Engineering,Sales, Diagnostics and Supply Chain. This gives them an additional certification, makes them employable and prepares them for a strong career in the sector.

The challenge of demand forecasting and aggregating

It’s obvious that for any skill development program to be successful, the planning needs to align with demand. Unless we know what and where the demand is, it wouldn’t be right for any training center to start a course de-linked with the demand in its geography. So far, this has been a weak area wherein we are unable to predict the demand.We are reaching out to industry and asking them to share demand data.The process is just unfolding, it’s an ongoing process it is not as if training delivery could immediately be 100% demand driven, but certainly that is the direction in which we are trying to move.

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