The challenges of training the trainer in vocational and skill-based training programs


Empower Pragati embarked on a Training of Trainer (TOT) program to meet the unique needs of vocational trainers contributing to skill development in India. Their course, Post Graduate Certificate in Vocational Training (PGCVT) has been successfully used in retail and telecom sectors to train about 1000 trainers. In this Skill Talk, Pritha Dutt, Director, Empower Pragati, gives us more details about the training program and how it can be used to train vocational trainers in India.

Finding and retaining efficient trainers is quite a challenge for any skill development or vocational training program. It’s rather ambitious to expect trainers to be come well-equipped with a combination of skills such as technical skills, soft skills and pedagogical skills. So, there’s a dire need to train them to meet the growing demand for skill-based training. Moreover, vocational programs are not very aspirational and that is the truth. Part of the reason is also because there are no exciting, committed and motivated trainers who can bring life and passion into the program.

Post graduate certificate in vocational training

Being a vocational trainer by choice

This is mainly because being a trainer not a regular career choice for youth. People who are already working in the training industry can fit well into the vocational trainer’s role, provided they have some industry experience. But, this doubles the challenges since, their salaries may not be meeting their expectations. At the same time, people just can’t walk in to get training exposure and experience in domains like welding, plumbing, retails or any other trade.

And the last thing is that the person should understand that vocational skills do not have an entry barrier like with formal degrees in education such as B.Sc, B.A etc and it’s not a choice. Combined with all of that, it is not a career choice and there is no entry barrier, the money is low and you need qualified people, so, the reality or data shows that there is a big gap in this area.

  • Most trainers are in the age-group of 25-44 years
  • 67% trainers are male trainers
  • Only 26% trainers have either a government or private certificate while 75% employers demand a certification before hiring trainers.
  • Most trainers are from big towns and cities while the highest need for vocational training is in rural areas.

So, we focused on two important aspects of training: one, build aspiration to be a trainer and second, build competencies to become a trainer. We addressed issues like the process of vocational training, the need for certification of a vocational trainer and how it can become a norm for all the trainers in the country.

The need for certification of vocational trainers

That was the idea we started with. We then looked at what are the requirements for a trainer. And we came up with three ideas of the program,

  • One, vocational skilling and requirements of training in a specific area, for example, the reality of rural India, mobilization, how to help youth to decide which course to pick up and so on.
  • Two, pedagogy of trainers, the trainer in the vocational course should do more than a corporate trainer, social participation, handling discrimination, migration, self-employment, life skills, creative thoughts etc.
  • Three, placements and reporting and how trainers could get into a domain according to their skills. If you are a retail trainer how do you tend to trade and how you incorporate what you learned and this last bit is like an internship.

That’s how we came up with the full-fledged program for about 150 to 200 hours and we also have a short version.You can’t train just for subject matter alone, you need to train the essential competencies for any job in a sector, all the role plays and class exercises revolves around that. The trainer is a person who comes from that background.

Future plans

We are now looking at putting up the course on a digital platform; currently we offer it through classroom-based training. In telecom and retail sectors, about a thousand people have benefitted from our training. The training can be offered in English and local languages.

The response was excellent. It was interesting to see that two of the participants wanted to apply for trainer positions and their resumes prominently mentioned ‘certified vocational trainers’ and they feel proud about it. This was the only course of its kind when we launched it in September 2015, and the course is recognized by NSDC.

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