Vocational Trainers – The Building Blocks of Skilled India

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“I just finished Diploma. I am preparing to appear for the competitive exams. Meanwhile, I became a trainer here…. No they don’t pay well… But, this is my first job. So, it’s alright.” ~ A Vocational Trainer

“Finding a trainer is never a problem. If one leaves, ten will queue up. Operations team i.e., those people who do the paper work to claim government funds are far more important for the organisation and must be paid well.” ~ PIA / VTP Owner

The above are some of the many things I have heard in real life while working for Training Providers. “Training Providers” as the name suggests are in the full time job of providing training to the youth of the nation. Hence “Training” in these institutions cannot be treated as an overhead or a support function like it is treated in an IT or an automotive firm. It is the core operation of the organization that directly affects the bottom line.

Role and status of a Vocational Trainer

trainerThe role of a trainer is pivotal, especially in Placement Linked Training Programs (PLTPs) where Trainer is involved right through mobilization to post-placement engagement. Despite being the engine of the system, the Vocational Trainer (VTs) appointed to impart training is the least of the focus.

These VTs are no better than the trainees themselves. In many place, the topper of the ITI or Diploma batch is given immediate appointment as a trainer. In most cases, the VTs involved in implementing NSQF in schools are a bunch of unemployed engineers.

Vocational Trainers by chance, not by choice!

In my experience, in the Skill Development world, VTs are trainers by chance and not by choice. Many of them hardly have any understanding of the skilling ecosystem leave aside pedagogical skills. Most of them have never heard of the expression “demographic dividend”. Seldom do they understand the gravity and importance of their role. They are paid lowly, sometimes lower than the first salary of their trainees who get placed. There is no growth path shown to them. Their motivation is low. Hence there is no aspiration to become a Vocational Trainer.

Sanjogita Mishra, Programme Officer – Skills, CEMCAInvesting in building the capacity of Vocational Trainers, certifying and motivating them and creating a growth path for them is the key to achieving substance with scale. There is a key difference in building the capacity of a trainer and conducting ToT. The state certainly has a key role to play in this. The sooner the better!  Sanjogita Mishra, Programme Officer – Skills, CEMCA

Building capacity of Vocational Trainers – Success Stories

With all of the above observations, I started my mission to make a difference in the lives of the Vocational Trainers who are the “farmers” helping India reap the demographic dividend. This was the only way the quality of training could improve. Hence we collaborated with State Governments.

The pioneer in this was ORMAS, the State Implementing Agency of Odisha for DDU-GKY who stepped up to fund the training, assessment and certification of all the Vocational Trainers of the state irrespective of whichever PIA they belonged to. Without bothering about attrition of trainers, they stepped forward in changing the ecosystem. They provide state funded “Capacity Building intervention” to all VTs of all their PIAs and have set themselves an ambitious target of having 1000 certified Vocational Trainers by end of this financial year.

Today the state boasts of 400 VTs who are motivated and take pride in their work. These VTs assess the Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills of their learners, provide them support and coaching, reasonably adjust their content based on the future employers’ needs and engage their learners through fun learning.

ORMAS 200 vocational trainers

The building of capacity of a VT is not the same as ToT. These VTs undergo a 11 days’ training programmes which is split into two phases of 6 and 5 days. The two phases are separated by 2 weeks which offers the VTs an opportunity to put to practise what they learnt. Post training, there is knowledge and experience sharing through a Community of Practice. There are also some field mentors who hand hold the VT in delivering better learning outcomes. Firmly grounded on the principles of Adult Learning and promoting Activity Based Learning, the transformation of the Trainer takes time, but is permanent. The state has also created a hierarchy of grade of Trainers – A, B & C and is encouraging certified Trainers to demand respectable pays.

Training of vocational trainers ORMASStates like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Telangana have now started implementing the same and gone beyond. The state of Chhattisgarh is keen to not only build the capacity of all their Vocational Trainers, but also create a pool of master trainers.

Outcome on Investment

It is heart-warming to hear the day-to-day innovations that these VTs are bringing about in their classes, in reaching out to learners who have divorced the path of formal education long back. The class attendance has improved significantly and the self-esteem of the VT has definitely got a boost. Their stories are featuring on social media and a culture of peer learning has been built. So much more contribution towards building a Skill India, just by a pat on the back!  Any state / any VTP that invests resources in creating good Vocational Trainers is certainly paving the path of the trinity of Speed, Scale and Substance!

About the author: Sanjogita Mishra, Programme Officer – Skills, she can be contacted at sanjogitam@gmail.com

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