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Skilled workforce


Swiss companies to invest in Indian apprenticeships


Swiss multinationals based in India have announced plans to create a centre to provide Swiss-style vocational education to young Indians. The apprentices are expected to help Swiss companies address the shortage of skilled workers in India.

The proposed Centre of Excellence for Manufacturing was presented at the Swiss Vocational Education Training (VET) day held on June 5 in New Delhi as a part of the Year of Swiss Innovation in India. Swiss companies such as Burckhardt Compression, Syngenta, Sulzer and Rieter are part of the training venture.

The centre is expected to be operational by 2017 and will be based in Koregaon Bhima near the Indian city of Pune, where over 20 Swiss companies have manufacturing units. The centre will be run as a non-profit organisation and financial contributions from Swiss companies will qualify as corporate social responsibility (CSR) which is also mandatory for Indian subsidiaries of foreign companies under the new CSR laws introduced in 2013.

Apprentices will have to undergo a four-year training programme in disciplines such as polymechanics, mechatronics, welding and design. Each course will have an intake of 24 students every year and will admit students who have passed the tenth grade and have certain level of aptitude in mathematics. Apprentices will spend four days a week working for a Swiss company from the third year onwards and will be paid a stipend.

Besides manufacturing, there are also plans to develop a Swiss Centre of Excellence for Agriculture in the same centre to train rural youth to become agriculture entrepreneurs and technicians. This initiative will be supported by the Syngenta Foundation and will focus on precision agriculture.

Apprenticeship concept

The idea of developing VET in India was initiated by the Swiss VET Initiative India (SVETII) in 2008 through the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce and  partners such as the Swiss Engineering, Electrical and Metalworking Industry Association (Swissmem), the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET) and four Swiss companies in India.

The purpose was to help Swiss companies in India procure skilled workers as well as help Switzerland share its successful vocation education model internationally.

India has the world’s largest youth population with 356 million people between the ages of 10 to 24. One in three graduates between the ages of 15 to 24 are unemployed, indicating that the country is not making the most of this demographic dividend. 

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