August 11, 2010 | The Economic Times

Learning curve turns moolah route too

PUNE: Earn while you learn has got a leg-up. The Maharashtra state government has amended rules to allow students over 18 years of age to be apprenticed with manufacturing companies for four years — the length of an engineering course — while the firms pay for their education and other expenses. The new scheme provides access to students seeking technical education but who cannot afford it. The company sponsoring the student pays the fees, a monthly stipend and also for the uniform, shoes, insurance cover, etc. The scheme was formally launched in Pune by the state’s higher and technical education minister, Rajesh Tope.
 
“The four-year diploma in mechanical engineering will involve eight hours of work at the factory and two hours of classroom work, which will be conducted at the government-owned engineering colleges and polytechnics,” said Vishwesh Kulkarni, president, Yashaswi Institute of Technology (YIT), which will run the course. YIT is affiliated to the Yashwantrao Chavan Open University (YCMOU). The scheme has been jointly developed by YCMOU and Tata AutoComp Systems (Taco).
 
The auto component manufacturer has 1,800 students enrolled in the scheme, 400 girls. The cost-to-company per student-worker for Taco in the first year will be 8,200 per month, going to over 10,000 per month in the fourth year, Taco executive director RS Thakur said. The state government has specified the amount of the stipend, which will be 5,000 per month in the first year, going up to 6,500 in the fourth year.
 
The course, which is a mix of classroom teaching and shopfloor work, utilises idle capacities of 42 state-run engineering colleges and polytechnics across the state. The private sector will have to pay for the use of these facilities, including the staff.
 
The TACO-YIT partnership, which began almost a year ago, is not without hurdles. Mr Thakur said the first issue is of hostel accommodation and the second, attrition. “We lose up to 50% of our workers to the service industry. Who wants to work on a hot shopfloor when they can work in an air-conditioned mall? So, in the first year, attrition is very high. If they stick it out that first year, they tend to stay on,” he remarked.

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