Anjali Shinde from Maharashtra’s Sangli district, like other youth her age, had dreams of finding a good job and providing a better future for herself and her parents. However, she was not content with taking up the usual jobs and, instead, wanted to work in the manufacturing plants that dot the Western Maharashtra landscape. That is easier said than done. Lacking employable skills, Anjali’s hopes of finding a job were remote. Anjali is not alone; a good chunk of Indian youth graduating from colleges often lack the skills that will get them good jobs. This serious situation led the Government of India to launch the Skill India Mission in 2015. The initiative aims to create and implement comprehensive skill development training programmes to help bridge the gap between industry demands and skill requirements. The project targets to skill over 40 crore Indians in different industry-related jobs.
Driven with the zeal to create a better future, Anjali joined a three-week factory automation course at the Tata Indian Institute of Skills (TIIS). She also pursued a diploma in engineering alongside. As the second girl to join the course, this was an extraordinary journey for Anjali in more ways than one. The programme head at TIIS, Mr Ashwath, remarks, “Anjali's dedication, proactive approach, and willingness to acquire new knowledge have been truly impressive. Throughout the course, her genuine passion and dedication were evident in her active participation, frequent contributions to discussions, and the constant pursuit of knowledge.”
Her decision found ready support from her parents, who, despite their own lack of proper schooling – her father never enrolled in school while her mother studied only till ninth standard – encouraged Anjali to pursue higher education.
“The three-week course in factory automation at TIIS has been an enriching experience for me. I felt stretched to the limits as I was also pursuing a diploma in engineering along with the course. The short-term course is not self-paced and as a result we had to chase deadlines, which became stressful but the learning curve has been great,” Anjali says.
TIIS was set up in March 2020 under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 by the Tata Trusts. The Trusts were selected as a partner by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to set up, operate and maintain two world-class Indian Institute of Skills in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The primary goal behind setting up these institutes is to create an industry-ready workforce as per the evolving demands of the national and global markets. The three-week course in factory automation is one of the several courses being taught at the two campuses.
“The course imparted a lot of knowledge over a short period. I learned to read and draw circuits. Solving real-life problems through assignments has prepared me for the life of an engineer and the challenges of the shop floor,” Anjali says.
Along with technical knowledge, the skilling initiative also aims to equip the participants with basic English and improve their communication skills. The candidates understand the importance of the English language and are eager to master it. As Anjali would often struggle to explain the working of an electronic circuit in English, the instructor allowed her to describe the steps in Marathi or Hindi. However, Anjali would politely refuse and continue painstakingly in broken English.
The skilling initiative also aims to break the gender disparity by preparing young women like Anjali to work in India’s manufacturing plants. Mr Kulkarni, the training manager at TIIS, explains that the gender disparity is the result of the popular perception that engineering is a man’s profession. “The situation needs to change but would require long-term strategic focus and intervention. Career counselling, right training models, fee waivers and scholarships can be explored to boost the entry of young women in engineering,” he adds.
Today, Anjali is pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from AISSMS College of Engineering, Pune. She is confident that things will change, and that more young women like her will soon start working in manufacturing plants and factories.