“Skilling is important not only for employment but also for the needs of the country. We should reap the demographic dividend advantages otherwise it becomes a demographic catastrophe”, says Capt. Amitabh, Head – Skill Development, Tata Steel.
Tata Steel aims to build an industry-ready workforce through its skill development initiatives and training programs, as part of its CSR. The training programs are designed for the capacity building of students from marginalized and excluded sections, to ensure gainful employment, post-training. To know more about their skill development initiatives, we caught up with Capt. Amitabh, Head – Skill Development, Tata Steel. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation.
You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel.
Q. Please tell us about various initiatives in skill development from Tata Steel as a part of CSR.
A: Livelihoods has always been one of the focus areas for Tata Steel CSR, apart from Health and Education. However, for the past nine years, we have brought a more structured approach towards skilling of youth under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Through our skilling initiatives, we target students coming from tribal and other marginalized sections of the society and make them employment ready.
We have three modules in skilling:
- Set up-skilling Institutes for formal training (long term), with reputed implementing partners for day -to-day operations.
- Providing infrastructure support to reputed vocational training providers for quality training, as per need.
- Identifying select Institutions to sponsor students from marginalised/excluded sections for formal training.
In Jamshedpur, we are running Tata Steel Technical Institute where we focus on providing industry-ready technical training. We have also partnered with the government of Jharkhand to establish two ITIs in the State. Our key emphasis is not on the numbers but on the quality of training and providing wage/self-employment, post successful completion of training.
Q. What criteria an organization or institute should have to collaborate with Tata Steel?
A: We mainly have Implementing Partners who help us implement our skill development initiatives. For technical training, we are partnering with NTTF for the past 13 years. Presently, we are operating five technical institutes in partnership with NTTF- R D Tata Technical Education Centre -Jamshedpur, J N Tata Technical Education Centre -Gopalpur (Odisha), Tata Steel Technical Institute- Jamshedpur, Industrial Training Institutes at Tamar (Ranchi) and Jagannathpur (West Singhbhum).
Apart from Technical Training Institutes, we have partners across various industry sectors such as Pratham organization in the Hospitality sector, VLCC in the Beauty and Wellness sector and Shahi Exports Pvt Ltd in the Apparel design and training.
Four main considerations for partnership:
- Successful placement record
- Need and demand of the sector
Q. Could you please tell us more about your partnership with Nettur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF)?
A: We are partners with NTTF for the last 13 years. The best thing about NTTF is that they are agile enough to come up with new ideas and strategies to successfully deliver the technical training as per industry demand. Their Academic Council take feedback from their alumni as well as from the industry every six months and tries to inculcate the required changes as per feedback. It is one of the oldest institutes in terms of technical training and known for its quality training.
NTTF also helps us with our bridge programs which we organize for the capacity building of the students coming from the marginalized sections of the society. Through these bridge programs, instead of diluting the standards for intake, we focus on building the capacity of the students.
Q. How do you identify, mobilize the youth to join the right program so that they get into a job/employment they like and stay on in the job?
A: After the training and mobilization, it is crucial for the students to stay on the job. As we are an implementing CSR organization, we have an advantage in this scenario. We have a strong grassroot connection with the community which helps us in understanding their needs better.
In partnership with CII, we have also started an initiative called Model Career Centre where we identify the interested candidates and also do their psychometric assessment. We also do counselling of the students and their families to screen the right candidates for the right vocation.
As the students come from different backgrounds, we understand that their requirements will be different. For us the numbers don’t matter; what matters is the quality of people that we are attracting and mobilizing.
Q. Do the students get absorbed in Tata Steel or they get placed in other companies?
A: Tata Steel is one of the placement options for the students in our technical courses. Depending on the need of the company and the interest of the students, they get absorbed in various companies such as Maruti, Volvo along with Tata Steel and other Tata Group companies. We are creating quality skilled resources for the industry and not for our requirements.
Along with our long-term technical training, we also offer various other programs for the students. All our programs focus on placement and we have a placement record of more than 80%. Apart from technical and vocational training, we also do capacity building programs that lead to self-employment or improve employability.
We also have Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) where we identify local needs of people who may or may not have passed out from our institute and encourage them for self-employment. We have already created more than 600 entrepreneurs through the program.
We have a unique initiative called Panchayat Bandhu. Under this program, we identify one person in a panchayat and train him/her for a particular skill, which is required to service local needs. After completion of the program that person goes back to the village and starts his/her own venture.
Q. What is your vision for skill development and vocational training to help youth in gainful employment and not just aspire for a degree?
Blended learning is going to be the future for impactful skill development. With the intervention on new-age technologies, there are many possibilities to deliver a part of the training virtually. The use of various simulators could be a very good example of using advanced technologies to deliver quality technical training. We could blend our technical training models where a part could be virtual. For this, the sensitization of employers is very important too. We must ensure that the employers are ready.
We have experienced this as we want to promote girls in technical training. In our ITI, Jagannathpur, more than 30% are girl candidates who are equally talented as their male counterparts. While they are well trained and industry-ready, only few organizations are comfortable in hiring girls for shop floor work in their factories.
In the blended learning model also, the employers will have to understand that even if the students are virtually trained, they are equally good.
We have also started a training program for persons with disabilities (PwDs), under “SABAL” initiative. We do sensitization of employers, train persons with disabilities (as per demand) and also do stakeholders engagement. We have been able to place close to 50 PwDs in various jobs and have plans to scale it up, going forward.
Q. Your message to the youth to improve their skills?
A: In India, the dignity of labour is one of the most important factors to focus on. We should stop associating people with the kind of work they do; rather appreciate the skills at hand. The younger generation should look for potential opportunities based on futuristic needs, instead of following a trend of selecting specific fields only. Whatever job they choose to do, they should focus on the quality of the work. For today’s generation, skill development should be the main focus.
Also read: How NTTF – JNTC Gopalpur is transforming technical training in Odisha since 2005 https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/nttf-jntc-gopalpur-transforms-technical-training-in-odisha-since-2005/
Equipping youth with quality and need-based skills is imperative if India has to become the Skill Capital of the World, as envisaged by our Prime Minister and also to reap the advantage of demographic dividend. Secondly, quality skills also ensure the safety and wellbeing of the community. For example, a properly trained driver or a skilled health worker would lead to lesser road accidents and improved health care, respectively.