Endress+Hauser is deploying a vocational education model to locations around the world. A pilot project in Aurangabad in India is to provide young people with better qualifications and new career opportunities.
India once had an education system referred to as Gurukul. A student would live with a master craftsman for several years to learn the trade. During the colonial period, the Gurukul principle was replaced by a theory-driven school and university system that still influences the country to this day.
“We’re actually more of a practical nature here in India,” says Sriram Narayanan, Managing Director of the Endress+Hauser production facility for level and pressure measurement technology in Aurangabad. That explains his enthusiasm for the success of Endress+Hauser’s latest education initiative, which aims to export the Swiss and German dual model of vocational training to production locations around the world.
The model, in which schools and companies work hand in hand, was first rolled out in India. In Aurangabad in November 2018, eight apprentices began a one-year program under the guidance of five vocational trainers to become electronics technicians. The young men aged 16 to 18 train and work at the level and pressure, temperature and flow measurement technology plants in India.
In a modern training workshop, the apprentices acquire the basics of electrics and electronics as well as mechanics. In addition, they gain insights into the sales center. “This promotes a customer-oriented approach to the job,” says Kailash Desai, Managing Director of the Endress+Hauser sales center in India.
Investment in the future
The driving force behind the project is Urs Endress. “By exporting the dual vocational training model, we’re also continuing one of the company’s traditions,” explains the Endress+Hauser shareholder, who led the French sales center for many years. Endress+Hauser has offered a trinational training program in Germany, Switzerland and France for more than 30 years. The program gives the apprentices an opportunity to acquire experience in the neighboring countries.
The transfer of the dual training to other countries is also designed to ensure quality and promote the exchange between production locations all over the world. In addition, the trainees become familiar with the company from the ground up. “We want to invest in young people and offer them good prospects for their future,” says Urs Endress.
“We want to invest in young people and offer them good prospects for their future.”Urs Endress
The training concept is adapted to the respective local environment. In India, for instance, the program is structured around a two-year vocational training course at a technical school, of which there are many in the country. The instructors come from within the company’s own ranks. “This helps us increase the acceptance of the project,” says Narendra Kulkarni, Managing Director of the temperature measurement engineering production facility.
Five company veterans completed a course at the German Chamber of Commerce office in Pune or at the center of competence for level and pressure measurement technology in Maulburg, Germany. Sudhir Patil, an engineer and one of the instructors, observed that “in these environments the apprentices and the instructors interact with one another on equal footing. That’s something we want to replicate here.”
Knowledge for the real world
The goal is to mold the apprentices into independent employees who enjoy developing their skills and can apply their knowledge to real environments. “India’s current technical school system only satisfies the needs of modern industry to a limited extent, because it relies too much on theoretical knowledge,” explains Project Manager Jens Kröger, Head of Personnel Development at Endress+Hauser in Maulburg. “Vocational students learn to copy circuit diagrams for instance, but not the underlying principle. Working independently is not encouraged.” For this reason, they are often assigned routine responsibilities after graduating.
In Aurangabad, however, the apprentices analyze and develop electronic circuits on their own, then discuss their findings with the instructors. “With this approach, they learn to solve problems, how to assume responsibility and how to scrutinize processes within their own company,” explains Jens Kröger. The effects of such an approach were evident not long after the course was started.
“Our apprentices wanted more English classes to better understand the training contents and to be able to tap into additional knowledge on the internet,” explains Milind Shrikhande, an electrical engineer and one of the instructors. His protégés are highly motivated. “I’m learning a trade from the ground up,” says Akash Kale enthusiastically. “Here we work on machines in teams of two instead of in groups like at our technical school,” adds Vijay Padol.
On the right path
Once the apprentices complete the program, their career prospects will be particularly good. “An apprenticeship offers young people from rural areas of the country a real chance to progress,” says Jens Kröger. The managing directors at the Endress+Hauser plants in Aurangabad are hoping to reap long-term benefits from the project as well.
“Even though we’re a relatively small company here in India with around 500 employees, we are able to make a significant contribution to the development of this region,” says Kulathu Kumar, Managing Director of the flow measurement engineering plant. “With this project we will become a trailblazer in vocational education.” And his colleague Sriram Narayanan adds: “The Indian economy is growing at a rapid pace. We not only need more people in the future, we need better trained ones.”