Swiss VET Day 2016

By Indraneel Ghosh, Senior Thematic Advisor – Embassy of Switzerland in India

Following the success of the first Swiss VET Day organised in New Delhi in June 2015, The Embassy of Switzerland in India organised the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Day 2016 in Hyderabad on Tuesday, 24 May 2016. The event was organised by the Embassy, in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Telangana, and the Telangana Academy of Skills and Knowledge (TASK) of the Government of Telangana.

Within the framework of the Swiss VET Initiative India (SVETII), and in order to scale up the project, the VET Day was organised to present the initiative to a wider audience of stakeholders and potential partners in this important economic link in Swiss-Indian relations. The objective was to, inter alia, showcase the Swiss VET model and Switzerland’s expertise in this field, promote and disseminate the Swiss VET Initiative to potentially interested partners in India and present specific initiatives of Swiss skill development in India.

SVET audienceThe event was densely packed and the presentations covered a broad spectrum of topics. The attendees of the event included representatives from the Telangana Government, industry and training providers and educational institutions. About 120 persons attended the event.

In his introductory remarks Mr Nrupender Rao, Chairman, CII Telangana and Chairman, Pennar Industries Limited, said that Switzerland was a role model as far as VET was concerned. He also said that the Swiss initiative was a good example of industry association in a training programme and that efforts should be made to replicate the system in India. For major programmes to succeed in India, such as Make in India, it would be necessary to have skilled manpower. He said that skilling and productivity are linked and that the CII was working to create an environment conducive for creating this linkage.

Mr Jayant Krishna, Chief Executive Officer, National Skills Development Corporation, gave a theme address on the topic of addressing India’s Skills challenges said that the CII was responsible for bringing the focus on skills in India. In a visioning exercise called India at 75, which will be in the year 2022, the requirement of 500 million skilled people came up. If this could happen, India could propel its growth rate into the double figures. He said that the challenge was enormous and that this would be the largest human resource development programme ever. He said that the workforce in India is 470M strong but only 4-5% has any formal training. About 10 million people are skilled every year in India but 95% of the workforce works in the informal sector. He also said that the demographic dividend that India has (median age of workers is 27 years) will not happen unless skills are developed. Deficiencies in the education sector would have to be addressed as only 10% of students who enter primary education enter higher education and only 10% of these graduates are employable (increasing to 30% in the case of professional studies). The expectations from the skill sector are high but there is a stigma attached as vocational education is not aspirational. The framework for providing quality skills training (national skills quality framework) and apprenticeships schemes are in place in India, However, industry has not shown enough concern and the apprenticeship schemes have not really taken off. He finished by saying that the time for skills development had come and that investment in skills makes a good business case. Everybody had to take this seriously and it is time to walk the talk.

AmbassadorDr. Linus von Castelmur, Ambassador of Switzerland to India then made a presentation on Switzerland’s International cooperation in Vocational and Professional Education and Training and the relevance of Swiss VET for India. He mentioned the drivers for the internationalization of VET and how it is a vital system for the economy. He mentioned the dual track approach of the Swiss VET system and the roles of the Confederation, the cantons and private sector in implementing the system. He then presented the relevance of the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India for India and its main achievements.

A keynote address was delivered by Mr. B V Papa Rao, Advisor, Policy and Institutional Development, Government of Telangana. He was of the opinion that skills should be a part of the education system. However, according to him this was not the case, as India has inherited a system which was geared to producing white collar workers and that society had imitated that as well, with the aspiration being to attend school and college and then work in a white collar job. He said that people were not encouraged to join the industrial training institutes and that there was a lack of respect for workers. He remarked that the Indian economy had been opened for the financial sector but not the labour market. He also said that there were flaws in current policy, such as the opening of new skills universities. He thought that skills could be introduced in the existing universities. He finished by saying that Telangana was working on developing its skill policy, based on 8 or 9 pillars which would include the sectors of aerospace and defence and IT enabled manufacturing (3D printing).

The opening session was followed by a panel discussion on the theme ‘Skilling India’ to meet its development goals -contributions from Switzerland. In this session Mr G.P. Chandra Kumar, Founder and CEO, Skillsonics India Pvt. Ltd, spoke of what Switzerland could offer in skill development; Mr Narasimha Rao, Managing Director, Burckhardt Compression (India) Pvt. Ltd and Mr Sanjib Pal, V. P.-Human Resources, , ABB India Limited spoke of Swiss VET as a game changer in skilling India and the experience of using the Swiss VET training model in their companies. Finally Mr K V Vishnu Raju, Chairman, Shri Vishnu Education Society spoke about what Indian industry and educational institutions can take away from the Swiss VET model.

The event generated a lot of interest and was very well received by the speakers and the audience. For many, it was their first exposure to the Swiss VET system and they were quite impressed.

Click here to view the pictures of the event.