When Trainers Become Trainees: Insights from Swiss QAP

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In the guest article “When Trainers Become Trainees”, Regula Willi, Project Coordinator SkillSonics International AG, places the need for  Quality Assurance in Skill Training. Through this write-up she shares the details about the Quality Assurance Project from SkillSonics and the testimonials from the participants of the Quality Assurance Project (QAP) Instructor Common Module conducted at Buhler, Bangalore.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) in India will only succeed if Swiss quality standards in theoretical instruction and practical training are upheld. This is a challenge for vocational trainers in particular. That is why SkillSonics together with its partners have launched the Quality Assurance Project (QAP). The courses are taught by Swiss and Indian instructors. The first course modules show that students experience a steep learning curve. One participant hit the point following the course: “The trainer course makes me a better VET instructor.”

In November 2016, the first course module designed for instructors of multi-skilled production technicians (MPST) took place. SFIVET and SkillSonics experts taught the section on vocational didactics; practical shop floor instruction was conducted by technical experts from Swissmem and SkillSonics. By training instructors in the Swiss VET pedagogical approach SkillSonics ensures that they uphold Swiss quality standards in their own teaching. After the foundational course in benchwork, turning and milling, instructors will continue their training in more advanced modules focused on specific fields.

Skillsonics QAP“After five year of teaching for the first time I received training where I was skilled in different techniques and class management,” said Vivek Jadhav, a Rieter instructor who trains multi-skilled production technicians in the framework of the SkillSonics program. “The QAP course makes me a better instructor,” he added. Kirit Patel said, “This course exceeded my expectations. I gained confidence and was trained in a more systematic way than in previous courses.”

skillsonics_qap2Patrick Bolt, polytechnician instructor at Buhler Uzwil, Switzerland, taught the practical part of the course. “Participants made visible improvements. They understood and applied the instruction methods. Besides improving their teaching approach, they also strengthened their soft skills, especially presentation skills.” CV Srinath of SkillSonics, who conducted the first part of the practical training course with Emanuel Wüthrich, SFIVET, was impressed by the quality of the Swiss trainers and their interactive approach which is not common in India.

For some QAP course participants, the role playing was a challenge that required overcoming shyness and inhibition. Feedback from trainers and other participants made them realize that although they are professionals, they also make mistakes and can still improve their performance. One participant noted, “We should always be aware that students are observing and copying us. Teachers in India never check if students are correctly implementing what they are taught. This was done here. I have been to other training courses but found the QAP training much more professional.”

At the end of the course Venugopal Paravatikar, a SkillSonics trainer, reminded the participants about their responsibility as instructors. “Be innovative, question and improve the way you instruct, create your own training material, familiarize yourself with all the related subjects and open up. If you become bored or dissatisfied, please change your profession, otherwise your apprentices will suffer. Your profession should be one by choice, not by force.”

History of Swiss QAP

In 2008, SVETII was launched as a pilot project to train apprentices as multi-skilled production technicians in India based on the Swiss VET model. Even in the project’s early days the need to train the trainers in didactical and domain knowledge that met Swiss quality standards became apparent. Hence, the Swiss Quality Assurance Project (QAP) was born. In November 2016, SkillSonics launched the first Swiss quality training course for VET professionals in India. The first batch of MSPT instructors from companies including ABB, Buhler, Rieter, Burckhardt Compression and GMM Pfaudler took a two-week VET manager training course at Buhler India Pvt. Ltd in Bangalore.  

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