Industrial training institutes (ITIs), the poor cousins of polytechnics or engineering colleges are in for an image makeover.
The government is planning to come up with national branding of or grading of ITIs. “There are ITIs at various levels, from big to small. A national branding or grading would help us classify the institutes into various levels. This is a demand from the industry, and just as we rate the management institutes, we would be grading the ITIs as well,” said an official of the Directorate General of Employment & Training, Ministry of Labour & Employment.
This implies that if a certain state has 50 ITIs, students competing for seats would be able to chose and decide which ITI they should seek admission.
The ITIs support this view and say this would be a welcome move as they too are working at improving their standards and become competitive after the government decided to upgrade the ITIs through public private partnership (PPP) model in its eleventh Five Year Plan period between 2007-2012.
“After we adopt ITIs, our endeavour is to improve the academic standards and the faculty and introduce new programmes,” says Sanjay Shivnani, President & CEO, Vocational Education Training, CL Educate, division of Career Launcher.
CL Educate, which has around 21 ITIs under it — 15 in Punjab and 6 in Karnataka —has seen 100 per cent pass rate at its ITIs over the past year.
Total number of ITIs today stands at 9,415 of which 2,244 are government ITIs and 7171 are private ITIs.
The ITIs put together have 13.29 lakh seats. Duration of the courses range from six months to three years, and entry qualification is from 8th to 12th standard. Since 2005-06, 400 government ITIs have been set up with World Bank's assistance and 100 through domestic funding.
Under the PPP model, industry partner leads the process of upgradation of the ITIs. An Institute Management Committee (IMC) is constituted and is registered as a society. The IMC prepares the institute development plan.
The industry partner also leads the upgradation process, provides training to faculty members and on the job training to trainees, makes financial contribution and contributes machinery and equipment for training.
The Central government provides interest-free loan up to Rs 2.5 crore to the IMC which disburses the same to the ITI. Under the PPP model, financial and academic autonomy is given to IMC.
“It has allowed us to create state-of-the-art infrastructure and introduce more ITI trades. Earlier, we used to have only two trades, but now we have seven. This has pushed up demand from the local candidates,” said said SB Raju, chairman, Institute Management Committees (IMC), ITI, Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh.
The ITIs say PPP model has also allowed them to bring in good principals. “In many ITIs the principals used to take advantage of the fact that ITIs are located in remote location and that no one would check whether they report to work or not. This has now changed,” said the CEO of a vocational education training organisation.
The heads of ITIs say a good principal is like a CEO who is ready to empower the staff and students. “When ITIs were not under the PPP model, principals faced constraints while getting various approvals. Now the situation has improved,” added the CEO.
Vocational training is a concurrent subject of Central and the state governments. While laying of training standards, syllabus formulation and certification are the responsibilities of the Central government, the implementation of the training schemes rests with state governments.
Thus each state has set up their own fee structure, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 a year.
The ITI say they are also spending on creating better infrastructure now. “We have decided to give our institute a corporate look and feel. Therefore, companies take us seriously and visit us for placements. And this has paid off as we receive 100 per cent placement now,” said Raju.
At ITI Karjat, which is handled by Rustomjee Academy for Global Careers, 1,112 applications were received for 404 seats in 2011. At its other ITI at Andheri, 801 applications were received for 249 seats.
IT Is are also organising entrepreneurship lectures for their students.