India is at a skilling threshold and it needs to find the best way to utilise its youth (demographic dividend) that is rapidly entering the workforce. Vocational training can help reduce the employability gap on one hand, and it can also create a pool of skilled manpower for the industry on the other hand. The country aims to create a resource pool of 500 million skilled workers by 2022, but the biggest challenge in attaining this goal is the dearth of skilled trainers. This calls for a deeper look into strategies for improving trainer capacities.
The importance of skilled trainers
Trainers play a critical role in the vocational training delivery mechanism. They need to ensure effective training delivery on domain skills and soft-skills based on the expectations of the industry. Improving the confidence, the self-esteem and the achievements of young trainees, especially those from NEET (not in education, employment or training) is a key performance indicator for a vocational trainer.
Trainers also need to understand the big picture of India’s skilling ecosystem, which has rapidly evolved over recent years thanks to various government initiatives such as ‘Skill India’. Effective vocational training thus largely depends on the trainer because it is the trainer who inspires, trains and enables trainees to open a new chapter in their lives and careers.
Attracting and retaining skilled trainers
To reduce the supply-demand gap of trainers and to scale up vocational programs that skill India, the following ingredients are essential:
1. Invest in capacity building
Trainers in vocational programs can range from different academic backgrounds. Thus, it is essential to ensure that they have a strong passion for training before they are hired. This must be followed by a good induction process, which provides an understanding of the vocational training system in India and its increasing role in improving the employability quotient of today’s workforce.
Although there’s a long way to go for improving the public perception about vocational training in our country, without effective orientation or field trips, it would be impossible for trainers to produce the desired results. Hence, continuous investments towards the training of trainers is essential to improve the program outcomes.
- For instance, Bosch has started a unique Train the Trainer (TTT) program, through which more than 300 trainers have been trained in content delivery, counseling skills, student mobilisation and also leadership development.
2. Focus on the primary training outcome
The primary outcome of any vocational training program is for the trainees to get job opportunities or the generation of self-employment. These jobs can even be entry-level positions in the services sector, which have high demand for individuals with basic soft skills, customer service skills, computer operation knowledge and interpersonal skills. The more number of trainees a trainer is able to place in employment, the greater will be his or her sense of achievement. In this regard, periodic assessment and feedback from trainees assumes great significance.
Quoting from our own training model, BRIDGE (Bosch’s Response to India’s Development and Growth through Employability Enhancement) is a short-term job-oriented program started by Bosch since 2013. With 100% placement assistance, over 10,000 unemployed youth have been trained and placed across India so far. The singular focus of this program is to place school dropout youth in jobs in the organised or semi-organised sector, and include them in the mainstream economy.
3. Project vocational training as a career choice
With an increasing governmental emphasis on skilldevelopment and the vocationalisation of education, skills training has received significant priority and prominence over recent years. Every current and future trainer must be appraised of this.
Trainer certifications from peer governmental bodies, corporates like Bosch and universities can add immense credibility to CV’s of trainers. More and more industries are now participating in skill development initiatives based on statutory obligations, or as part of their CSR programs. Increased funding for skilling initiatives also offers the possibility of better pay scales for trainers.
Slowly but surely, vocational training is becoming an attractive career option for young graduates who wish to transform society through skill development.
4. Provide effective training toolkits and infrastructure
Apart from transferring domain and industry-specific knowledge, trainers are also expected to provide practical training through exercises, mock sessions and role plays. To enable them to do this effectively, necessary toolkits must be provided, which can also be adapted in their classrooms on a repeated basis.
Infrastructure also plays a key role in trainer motivation. This includes technology-enabled training methodologies. Access to internet / intranet and training management information systems can improve the tracking of training coverage and performance.
5. Encourage teamwork and collaboration
Another form of providing a positive environment for trainers to work and thrive in, is by the age-old formula of encouraging teamwork and collaboration within and beyond a training organisation.
The access to a range of stakeholders and the chance of working with them to attain training objectives is higher in the arena of vocational training; even more so than in formal training environments. This includes interacting with employers, local community leaders, non-profit organisations and even corporates.
Encouraging trainer involvement in such stakeholder dialogues and collaborative initiatives is bound to increase their motivational levels and also boost their organisational skills simultaneously.