Skilling India with a Novel, More Hands-on Training Paradigm


Sushil Kumar, Vice President, Tata TechnologiesOver the past few years, Tata Technologies has been on a skill development spree across the country, and it is working. After transforming hundreds of vocational training schools across Jammu and Kashmir and several North Eastern states, and in turn, helping to adjoin the states to the country's industrial map, Tata Technologies recently signed an MoU with the government of Karnataka as well. Through Centers of Invention, Innovation, Incubation, and Training (CIIITs) and CoEs, Tata Technologies today endeavors to modernize 150+ ITIs in the state with the help of the latest technological equipment, experts, and state-of-the-art training infrastructure. CEO Insights engages in an exclusive interaction with Sushil Kumar, the current Vice President and former Global Head – Government Projects & Skill Development of Tata Technologies. Sushil is an industry veteran with more than two decades of professional experience.  

In conversation with Sushil Kumar, Vice President, Tata Technologies.

Could you tell us about opportunities you provide to the students of government Polytechnic colleges across Jammu and Baramulla through your Centers of Invention, Innovation, Incubation, and Training (CIIITs)? 
Due to various reasons, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has always been kind of cut off from the mainstream Industrial map of India. Yet Jammu and Kashmir constantly produce amazing, exceptionally talented students. At Tata Technologies, we are trying to acquaint them with the best technologies, wherein the students can understand and learn about everything latest in industry 4.0. For instance, if they previously wanted to learn about aerospace or automotive design, they had to travel to cities like Delhi and Bangalore. We enable them to learn while being at their homes in Jammu and Kashmir. It provides them with more career options as they can start their own MSME facility, or since they are exceptionally well-trained, they can get the jobs they desire in any part of the world. We are also working with the state government to provide them with some amount of funding as well.

What are the factors and inspirations that drove you to this initiative? How has this whole journey of setting up these initiatives been?
We did a lot of groundwork, including a sample survey, encrusting nearly 450 ITIs across India. We also took a firm look at the curriculum, the courses offered, pedagogy, teaching methods used, and the machines and equipment they have in their labs. That data made analyzing the gap between industry 4.0 and academia easier. For instance, ITI-curriculums still revolve around just the basics like fitters and cutters, while the industries have long moved on to CNC, VMC, and 5-Axis. Similarly, they still teach only the conventional primary welding techniques, while the industry is now at robotic welding. So we have been engaged in this research for the last two years, and then we devised a concrete plan. We went to the Directorate General of Training (DGT). We explained in detail the courses that should be removed and the courses that need to be integrated into the curriculum as per the Industry 4.0 requirements. That's what we did in ITIs in Karnataka as well.

We are not coming to these states with a ready catalog from a bunch of vendors. Instead, we are heavily leveraging our global understanding of what product engineering will look like in the future. As you know, Tata Technologies works with clients across the globe


What is the kind of opportunities that CIIITs will offer to students? Help us understand the bigger picture here. 
As I mentioned, the state of Jammu and Kashmir and a series of North Eastern states are kind of cut off from the country's industrial map. There are not many industrial concerns in those states, as you will find in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. In turn, the students in those states don't get enough opportunities while studying in colleges to do internships. A student in Manipur doesn't have the privilege a student in Bangalore or Chennai has. CIIIT is on a mission to transform this environment. For instance, we have set up a CIIIT in Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, which offers students enormous opportunities for hands-on learning about everything from product design and development lifecycle to advanced machining, and the Internet of Things. From the entire EV life cycle to advanced manufacturing, industrial robotics, advanced plumbing, virtual reality-based painting and welding training, additive manufacturing, and advanced automotive. Students can learn about the latest technologies, do research work right, and come up with new Intellectual Properties. So we sincerely feel that CIIIT in Imphal will be able to help students from remote places who are really inclined toward technology.

What can you tell us about the CoEs in Bihar?
The upcoming CoEs series in Bihar is very similar to what we are doing in Karnataka. However, the industrial ecosystem in Bihar is different from what we have in Karnataka. Hence, in Bihar, we focus on food processing, electronics, and textile, among other industries that are high-priority sectors in the state. Also, there will be a lot of industry-oriented courses in advanced manufacturing, advanced milling, industrial robotics, and EVs. We have already devised more than 20 different courses that are highly relevant in the state. 

Tata Technologies recently entered into an agreement with the government of Assam as well. What was the driving factor behind this, and what should Assamese expect?
One of the fast-growing states in the North East, Assam's industrial landscape is majorly wrapped around coal, tea gardens, oil & natural limestone, cement, and food processing. So, through initiatives similar to the ones in states like Manipur, we would like to help the state through ITIs and Polytech. The aim is to uplift and enhance the entire industrial ecosystem in the state with the help of a workforce skilled in advanced technologies which can increase productivity through automation and robotics. 

Also, during our survey in the state, we observed a massive proportion of machinery imports in the oil and natural gas industry. Many things are imported, including some of the common things that come under maintenance. Even small Ring Gaskets are imported from outside. We are also focusing on common parts vital in maintenance and, in turn, trying to indigenize the whole production using our technology centers that we're building around 77 different Institutes across Assam state.

What kind of effort goes into devising and offering these courses? Does your global partner ecosystem participate in these initiatives?
We are not coming to these states with a ready catalog from a bunch of vendors. Instead, we are heavily leveraging our global understanding of what product engineering will look like in the future. As you know, Tata Technologies works with clients across the globe. Hence, we have a fairly good understanding of the technology upgrades the entire manufacturing industry is going through. Some of that knowledge translates into our online training offering, which is offered to many of our clients as well as engineering graduates who aspire to upskill. And some of those learnings come from our international partners as well. They come along with us to prepare this knowledge offering.

Furthermore, the state governments have specific pain points that they want to address. They want to attract investments in infrastructure and industries. In that sense, what we offer is quite differentiated. We provide tailor-made training courses aligned to meet specific requirements of today's industrial landscape and make people employable.