Till a few months ago, the 22-acre Industrial Training Institute campus on the outskirts of Patiala did not even have a boundary wall.
The building was dilapidated and the workshops inadequately maintained. Set up in 1956 to churn out skilled blue-collar workers for industry, it had become a defunct institution on which local businessmen had totally given up.
Today, it sports a different look. The scale and level of activities cannot but fail to impress visitors: the workshops have been renovated, the campus boasts of brand new auditoriums, it has a website and alumni records are properly maintained.
The management committee now has representatives from local industrial units, which has made the curriculum more relevant to the current needs of industry.
The partnership with the Small Scale Industry Association of Patiala has worked wonders for ITI-Patiala. "The process of upgradation was being discussed for around 10 years but actual work has only materialised in the last one-and-a-half years," said Nasir Ali, instructor, ITI-Patiala.
A Directorate General of Employment and Training initiative to upgrade nearly 100 ITIs through public-private partnership is changing the face of ITIs in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and a few other states. The partnerships have been facilitated by the Confederation of Indian Industry. Several CII members have "adopted" these ITIs.
All told, India has over 5,000 it is - mostly run by the state governments - which train 750,000 young men and women for blue-collar jobs. Until last year, all of these ITIs were languishing for want of funds and the lack of management expertise. This had resulted in poor quality of workforce being produced. With the economy growing at a fast clip, the shortage of good quality industrial workers was beginning to strangle industrial growth.
But the partnership with industry could change that. It not only eases the supply of skilled workers, it also counts as affirmative action as most ITI students come from socially and economically weaker sections of the society.
The initiative is projected to cover most ITIs in a span of three to five years.
Business Standard visited two such ITIs at Ludhiana and Patiala. These institutes now have renovated workshops with latest machines and equipment, given partly by industry and the rest funded by the state government.
Under the 'centre of excellence' scheme sponsored by the World Bank, these ITIs are also being developed as specialised centres. For instance, ITI-Patiala in the past one year has emerged as a centre focusing on refrigeration and air-conditioning, while the one in Ludhiana now specialises in production and manufacturing.
A proper placement cell - with tie-ups from local industry - is now in place for most of these ITIs. Guest faculty for training students now comes from industry. This has helped tackle the problem of lack of trainers to a great extent.
"We have tie-ups with local industry who come for placement to our institute. Last year, companies like Maruti, Hero Honda and Trident Group had come for recruitment. We had almost 100 per cent placements last year," says Baljinder Singh, principal, ITI- Ludhiana.
In the past one year, focus has shifted from merely training the students in work skills to developing their overall personality. These ITIs now have proper extra curricular activities, sports facilities and engagements like NCC."We have also started English courses to enhance soft skills in them," added V K Bansal, principal, ITI-Patiala. This ITI, along with the one in Ludhiana, now has EDUSAT installed for online learning purposes.