“We at Fronius are continuously making efforts to change the perception on welding from being dirty, dangerous, and difficult, to being clever, cool, and clean to make it a much better profession”, says Gaurav Aneja, Regional Head, Fronius India.
Fronius India has been taking pioneering steps in engaging youth to strengthen welding education in India. They have been effectively collaborating with academia, attracting youth to welding by conducting free welding training, through innovative apps, and promoting virtual welding training.
We interacted with Mr. Gaurav Aneja, Regional Head, Fronius India, to understand some of the initiatives of Fronius India in making welding an aspirational career option for the youth. Read on to know more or you can watch the video interview on our YouTube channel, for which the link is given below.
Q: How is Fronius India strengthening the technical education system across ITIs and the academic institutions in the country?
A: Let us begin by understanding what was the strategy behind setting up the ITIs. ITIs were set up to supply skilled manpower to the manufacturing industry. But over the years, our economy moved towards the service sector and the ITIs got stagnated.
The statistics indicate that the skilled manpower required by the industry is just around 5% in India. Whereas, in other developed countries, like in China it is around 25% and in Germany it is about 75%. Therefore, the first challenge for us was to develop the skilled manpower.
The second challenge for us was to attract the youth towards welding. Welding is usually considered a dangerous and dirty profession. Fronius India has put in many efforts to attract youth to welding by creating awareness about future prospects of welding.
The next challenge was how to take this to academic institutions and the ITIs. Our effort is to make welding from 3D to 3C, wherein 3D stands for dirty, dangerous, and difficult to 3C which is clever, cool, and clean to make it a much better profession.
We must understand that welding is not replaceable. Be it automobiles, electricity, missiles, rockets, or in any other field you pick up, we find welding. And this profession needs skilled manpower for different kinds of welding.
Once this message is successfully passed on to the ITIs and academic institutions, the next aim for Fronius is to make these institutions ready for future needs.
For instance, a student who is B.E. in Computer Science, with knowledge in computer programming, will not be enough. One might need to have knowledge about machine analytics, design analytics, etc.
While the industry is moving towards Industry 4.0 and automation, they also need reskilling and upskilling. In most of the fields, the workforce might also need new skilling. There are many roles that are coming up and they all need skilled manpower. Therefore, there are a lot of opportunities in welding. Multiple dimensions have opened up and moreover, welding is a high-paying job.
Academic institutions need to be future-ready in terms of infrastructure and latest technology so that once the students join the industry, he/she is aware of the technologies.
Q: With virtual welding training gaining popularity and increasing acceptance across the industry and academia, how do you think this has impacted the welding training?
A: Until now, we might have seen simulators in the gaming industry, aviation, etc. All those professions where the safety measures are high, where the effort required is high, and where the intensity of the job is difficult, go through the simulation process of training.
The traditional process of welding training involves getting trained on the actual welding equipment, on the shop floor. When a new person joins to get trained in such places, we will not be able to do justice in training that person well. Therefore, we need to train the initial recruitee and semi-trained recruitee, for a certain period of time using a welding simulator.
A virtual welding simulator is like having a personal trainer. A person’s proficiency in welding improves by training manually by hand. After training on simulators, the trainees will then work on actual welding equipment.
To make welding training perfect, we must train the trainees through a detailed program including both the virtual and the actual welding training.
So far, the results have been very motivating. In a given number of hours, a person trained on virtual simulators did three times more welding seams than the ones who worked on real welding equipment.
In real welding, a person’s time is consumed in preparing the weld component, cleaning the components, then making the perfect weld needed. Settling time is much more. In virtual welding, you understand the technique, you set the parameters initially, so it takes lesser time.
Also, while we train the trainees on virtual welding simulators, the overall cost of training also comes down. The efforts and the resources like material, gas, and component are saved.
The added advantage to virtual welding training is that it makes welding interesting for the students and aids in attracting them to this profession.
Q: Could you brief us on your apps Welducation and WeldConnect and how they have helped you cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A: Through the apps Welducation and WeldConnect, we wanted to reach even the masses located in remote places.
Firstly, Welducation is a pocket-friendly app. It is like having a personal welding trainer with us. It has two components – quiz and gaming.
In the quiz section, one will be able to self-assess, self-learn, and also compare it with others who have taken this quiz.
In the gaming section, the screen becomes a welding joint and the finger becomes a welding torch. One will also be able to see the burning of an electrode, melting of an electrode and this makes learning more fun.
Whereas WeldConnect is slightly on the higher side. During the pandemic, where people were stuck in their respective places, we could not provide them assistance physically. Therefore, we intervened digitally to set the welding parameters in their machines. WeldConnect app is like having a welding specialist in your pocket, which suggests and guides with a perfect welding solution.
Also read: Attracting youth to welding, making it an aspirational career choice – https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/attracting-youth-to-welding-making-it-an-aspirational-career-choice/
Q: What would be your message to youngsters who want to join the welding profession?
A: Welding is a very good profession. If anyone is confused or wants to know what kind of opportunities would be there in welding, please feel free to reach out to us for any consultancy. This profession is not limited to men. Women are also playing a vital role. There are plenty of opportunities in this field.
Academic institutions must understand the needs of the industry, develop good infrastructure and make students well aware of the latest technologies. This lets students understand what they would be expected to do when they join the industry.
Welding is not something that can be taught through books and on boards. Industry-academia collaboration must happen. This will also develop imaginative thinking among the students.