October 2014 | Cynthia Rodrigues

Life skills for India

Tata companies are training thousands of youth across India in skill sets that make them employable and productive

In India, the Tata skilling initiative is powered by the efforts of individual companies working to support thousands of youngsters and the community at large. While the scale and size of the skill-building projects differ, each company is making quality training and industry-relevant vocational skills available to those who need it most.

Hospitality services
In 2009, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) set up its first hospitality skills training centre in Khulthabad, Maharashtra, in association with the nonprofit Pratham. The centre offers basic training in hotel industry processes, including food production, housekeeping, and food and beverage services.

IHCL trains youth in hospitality skills
IHCL currently runs 36 such centres in less developed regions of India, such as Kalimpong in the northeast and Chhattisgarh in central India. About 9,000 youth have passed through these programmes, and about 97 percent of them have found jobs in the hospitality industry. The company has also joined hands with Tata Steel to set up similar centres at Kolabera near Jamshedpur and at Behrampur, Odisha, and with Tata Chemicals for a centre at Mithapur in Gujarat. It has also roped in Jiva Spa to offer a three-month course in spa services in partnership with the Don Bosco Centres in Nagaland and Assam. Apart from skill training, the company engages in the revival of indigenous art and culture forms and supports over 1,000 artisans and cultural troupes in India.

Aerospace skills
Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) requires fairly specialised skill sets, for which the company has set up its own internal training centre, which is benchmarked against the global best. The training is meant for graduates of industrial training institutes. By the end of the nine-month course, they are skilled mechanics, capable of handling aerostructures assembly and aerospace programming. The centre has trained 600 people so far.

Rural livelihoods
Tata Chemicals has set up a number of skill building initiatives in all its locations. At Babrala in Uttar Pradesh, it has a full-fledged training centre offering courses that range from mobile repairing and accounting to sewing and hospitality services. More than 5,400 youth have been trained at this centre. In addition, nearly 185 youth have been trained for rural BPOs operated by the Uday Foundation in Mithapur and Babrala.

At Babrala, the Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) has tied up with Larsen & Toubro to train youth from neighbouring villages to work towards the plant expansion. Training is offered in trades such as masonry, fitting, welding, carpentry, mobile repairing, accounting, basic computers, desktop publishing and garment making. For this, TCSRD partners Rishi Weld Tech and Mini ITI, Rajkot. For hotel management and catering services, it has tied up with IHCL and the Navjeevan Trust. It has also tied up with the Dalit Shakti Kendra to train girls in makeup and hair styling, videography and photography, and stitching. The centre at Haldia in West Bengal has courses in mobile repairing, electrical repair and fitting, computer hardware, and repairs of ACs, refrigerators and two-wheelers, in association with Jan Shiksha Sansthan and Webcon Consulting — more than 7,600 people have been trained here. An additional 6,000 people have benefited from farm-based training programmes such as pond management, agricultural development services, seed production, dairy farming, food processing, etc. Through its Okhai initiative, TCL supports about 450 traditional artisans at Okhamandal, Gujarat, in design, marketing and enterprise management support.

Business processes
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) trains unemployed graduates to work in Business Process Services (BPS). This programme, offering training in English communication, corporate etiquette and IT competency, reaches out to deserving candidates across India. Since 2010, the company has trained over 37,000 youth, about 15,000 of whom are from scheduled castes and tribes (SC / ST). More than 2,700 of the trainees are employed with TCS-BPS today. The success of the BPS Employability Programme led TCS to start a new initiative in FY14. Students studying in the 5th semester of four engineering colleges in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra received training through a specially designed 200-hour module to promote IT skills.

TCS was the first company to sign an MoU with National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) under project Udaan in 2011. Udaan offers Kashmiri youth a 14-week training programme to improve employability. So far, nearly 400 youngsters have benefited from this. TCS has also set up a faculty development programme to enhance the capability of the faculty in ITIs and ensure that quality and course delivery is in line with industry practices. About 100 teachers from ITIs in eight states have been trained and certified by TCS. Another TCS programme, InsighT, promotes team building, leadership, communication and presentation skills in Class 12 students. It has impacted about 3,000 students in three years.

Automobile trades

Young students receiving skills training in motor mechanics
Tata Motors (TML) has partnered with 137 ITIs across the country. Of these, 33 ITIs are part of the Institute Management Committee model, under which a TML representative is the chairman of the ITI. These ITIs have the potential to train 10,000 students annually in required automobile trades. The company trains another 3,000 students every year through its in-house industrial training facility. It has also partnered with the Confederation of Indian Industry to provide soft skill training to 1,000 ITI graduates. The company recently launched the Learn and Earn programme for youth, which provides on-the-job training in motor mechanics. TML has started 14 driving schools in order to meet the projected need for nearly 5 million commercial vehicle drivers by 2022. The company trains about 1,000 novice drivers annually and provides refresher training to over 4,000 drivers. TML has also developed non-automotive training programmes in areas such as retail, construction, ITES trades, dairy, pisciculture and poultry.

Vocational training
Tata Power’s tie-ups with ITIs in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha and Jharkhand promote skill-building in nursing and call centre management. Women self-help groups are trained in making jute bags, traditional handicrafts and incense sticks. The training, which includes soft skills in communication and teamwork, has benefited over 4,000 people over the last five years. Tata Power and Tata Business Support Services set up a rural BPO in Khopoli, Maharashtra, where more than 2,300 youth have trained as call centre executives in the last five years. Another skill-building initiative with Tata Steel in Tiruldih, Jharkhand, focuses on vocational training for project-affected youth. The Tata Power Skill Development Institute is a new initiative expected to benefit over 600 power sector workers in FY15 through programmes designed to train, test, certify and accredit workers. The institute will initially focus on Tata Power’s associate workforce and will later include other power companies.

Technical skills
Tata Projects has initiated tie-ups with ITIs, nonprofits, training partners and other Tata companies to offer short term residential / non-residential courses in trades such as welding, bar bending, form carpentry, tower erection and reverse osmosis plant training. At least 25 percent of the candidates hail from SC / ST groups. The programme offers on-the-job training with a stipend, and minimum employment of six months after the training. So far, the programme has placed more than 1,000 people. The company also offers vocational training in mobile repairing, Tally software, computer hardware, plumbing and basic computer skills. It partners with ITIs in Andhra Pradesh to enhance skills in welding and fitter trades. The company plans to train about 6,000 people every year in skills required for tower erection and stringing, through the Ustadi programme, a collaborative initiative with training partners and contractors at Jamshedpur, Nagpur and Hyderabad.

Precious knowledge
Titan Company’s first skilling initiative dates back to 2005, when it organised a three-year course at its watch division in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. Here, local students, a quarter of whom belonged to SC / ST groups, are taught fitting. About 200 students have completed the course so far. Titan also offers underprivileged school dropouts a one-year course in jewellery making and precious metal work, conducted at the Hosur unit. Over 170 candidates have been trained so far. The company sponsors a Chennai-based vocational training centre to train underprivileged youth in skills such as retailing, data entry and watch repair. Recently, the company entered into a similar engagement with another organisation for skilling youth affected by the Uttarakhand floods in 2013.

Across India, Tata companies are going the extra mile to set up training that is relevant and much needed.

Read more about Tata skilling initiatives around the world

Overview: How to catch a fish
Skilling initiatives from the Tata group aim to help youngsters around the world become employable
Striving to empower
Tata Strive, the group-wide, group-led skilling initiative, aims to set up a replicable model for training and skill development
STEM talent for America
Tata companies are addressing the deficit in science, technology, engineering and math skills in America to build a much-needed talent pool
Grooming young talent in China
The TCS China University steps up to offer soft skills training in partnership with 25 universities across the country
Skilling up in Singapore
NatSteel's upskilling initiatives are tied to the Singapore government's aim of building a more competitive workforce
IT's raining skills in Africa
In South Africa, TCS is empowering local talent by training students in a wide range of IT skills