Swiss Touch To Vocational Training

There is a standard story about India’s untapped demographic dividend working age population (15-59 years). We lack skilled or in many way employable workforce that can further boost our economic growth. There might be some hope in the coming years as an Indo-Swiss joint initiative is working to train about a million Indians on the norms set by industry. Apart from this, the cost of the education will also be funded by the future employers. Switzerland’s Ambassador to India Philippe Welti announced on Monday the success of a three-year pilot project to implement the Swiss dual track mode of
education and training in India. 

In this system, known as vocational education and training (VET), the companies select students as apprentice who has to attend 1-2 days of theory classes with ITI specified teacher and is required to do 3-4 days of practical work in the company itself under the supervision of a mandated instructor. The courses last for 3 to 4 years and on its completion the student is awarded the degree/diploma.

The education is sponsored by the companies and all students are given stipends for sustenance. Generally everyone is offered a job by the companies that sponsor the training. Noticeably Switzerland has maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates, even during the recent economic crisis and its labour force has one of the world’s highest proportion of skilled workers. The VET system is often credited for this.

The project which started in November 2008, to mark the 60th anniversary of friendship and establishment treaty between the two countries tested the VET system in Pune and Bangalore. The three years course, the curriculum which was aimed at training multi-skilled production technicians enrolled 150 ITI students. Apart from taking their theory classes at the respective ITIs these students also worked as apprentices in 9 companies.

In October this year all the apprentices of the first VET batch successfully passed a test assessed by the Swiss Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Industries (SWISSMEM). They are now entitled to dual diploma— one from the respective ITIs and the other from SWISSMEM. In 2012 the organizers of the project are aiming to launch it at all India level. In the current project the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technologyn and Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce were the implementation partner.

It is estimated that in India, of about 30 crore youths between 15 and 19 years of age only 2% have received formal vocational training while 3.4% have learned the trade in their family business. After the success of the pilot project a separate company, Skill Sonics Pvt. Ltd. is launched to take it to a self-sustainable level. The company will work with SWISSMEM and SFIVET and it is targeting to create 1 million skilled workers in India by 2022.