ABB is a global technology leader in industrial digitalization. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees and $34 billion revenue. In India, ABB has been operating for over a century. At present, ABB has 40 factories at 9 locations that develop best-in-class products bringing together global expertise, with local experience. India is also home to ABB group’s largest engineering design and R&D center, where engineers work on cutting-edge technologies to develop the future offerings from engineering tools to analytics solutions. ABB Group was established in the sixties. It produces components for electricity transmission such as switchgear, a whole range of transformers and disconnectors. While some of the products are exported most are produced for local consumption.
ABB Group has been looking for a training solution to replace retired personnel with well-trained and skilled professionals. The company joined the SWISS VET initiative (SVETII) driven by SkillSonics and its Swiss partners and has been operating the training center till date. Close to 100 students have already undergone the Multi-Skilled Production Technician Program. Apart from enhanced technical knowledge, the course helped students to improve quality, efficiency, accuracy, discipline, punctuality and responsibility.Gr
SkillSonics’ pilot project within the framework of SVETII attracted ABB’s attention almost immediately leading to the company joining the project on the very onslaught. At the time of the project, many production employees were about to retire. ABB wanted to replace them with well-trained and skilled personnel who were familiar with the newest technologies, including assembly work, and could build quality products without constant supervision.
How SkillSonics Helped
SVETII was implemented and a dedicated training center setup. It included a shop floor with various machines and a classroom with air-conditioning. SkillSonics assisted ABB in setting up the dual apprenticeship according to the Swiss concept adapted to the Indian context. It is a two-year program. In the first year, the apprentices in the training center get basic training which includes theory and practice. The emphasis is not only on technical skills but also on personal development. In the first year, the trainees stay at the VET training center with minimum exposure to other employees. Since the trainees are also seen as change agents, ABB doesn’t want them to be influenced by existing staff and old practices. In the second year, the apprentices work at different workstations in the factory for three days a week and take courses in theory and practice at the training center for two days a week. The courses in theory are taught mainly by instructors from local industrial training institutes (ITI). Other courses such as English language are given by external teachers. Internal company courses on work safety and product knowledge are taught by ABB staff. All the theoretical training takes place on the ABB Campus which has the necessary infrastructure. The teaching staff travels to the ABB location. Practical training is conducted by the head of the training center or by ABB instructors from different product lines. As preparation, company instructors attend SkillSonics courses to learn the appropriate pedagogical approach. The instructors supervise apprentices at various workstations. The practical training takes place at ABB except for one or two courses (for example, welding) that are held at a supplier’s facility for a couple of days.