April, 2021: UltraTech Cement’s Rajashree Cement Works' industrial training institute has helped provide new career opportunities to local youth. Bhimashankar Kolkur, 35, is quite the poster boy for youngsters in Sangavi village, located in Sedam block of North Karnataka's Gulbarga district. The first in his village to enroll for the two-year Electrician course at the Kagina Private Industrial Training Institute (KPITI) in 2004, his example inspired others to seek livelihoods beyond farming. Now employed as an electrical technician at UltraTech’s Rajashree Cement Works (RCW), he earns a steady income, a distant dream for most of his counterparts a decade back.
For communities residing around RCW, the institute has been a boon in a region with limited income options. “Every year, at least three to four youngsters from my village join KPITI," says Kolkur, whose guidance is often sought by aspirants while applying for a course of their choice. “They hope that this will lead to something better in their lives."
It's not hard to see why. A majority of those living in Gulbarga hail from the local nomadic community. According to a baseline survey conducted in the year 1992, literacy levels in Gulbarga was much lower than the desirable level at a mere 33% and a school dropout rate of over 40%. Avenues for higher studies barely existed except at district headquarters and much farther.
Over the years, the setting up of six cement factories in Sedam and three in bordering Chitapur block has served as primary sources of employment. However, the lack of adequate technical skilling held back economic development and opportunities for growth for local people.
KPITI helped change all this, for good. Since its launch in 1996, the institute, managed by the Kagina Jan Seva Tust (KJST) – established by RCW – has emerged as a trusted name in technical skilling and employability in the 21 'adopted' villages around the Unit.
According to Ms. Chandamma Ambalgi, the CSR Manager at RCW, the institute has emerged as the most favored private ITI in Gulbarga. She says that the institute is both an enabler for direct employment at local industrial units and a stepping-stone for higher technical education and self-employment. An emphasis on quality education, practical training and internships at RCW, and a relentless focus on its core mission of improving economic conditions in the local community have been key factors behind its popularity, and the respect it commands today.
Skilling for life
During the initial days, it was particularly challenging to convince families to send their youngsters to the institute. The principal of KPITI and members of RCW CSR team went door to door to create awareness in the local villages about the ITI. It took a while to allay their fears and convince them that this was in their best interests.
As the first private ITI in the region, KPITI started out with two-year courses each focused on the Electrician and Fitter trades. Subsequently, a two-year course for Electronic Mechanic and a one-year Welder course were also introduced. Today, KPITI has seven instructors, known as Junior Training Officers (JTO), who come with a B.E./Diploma or ITI qualification (with ATS – Apprenticeship Training Certificate and Craft Instructor Training Scheme, both issued by National Council of Vocational Training, under– Director General of Employment and Training, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship) in technical education and a minimum of three years of hands-on work experience.
Admission into KPITI requires minimum 45% marks in Std X, and candidates need to take an entrance examination where the qualifying cut off is 85%. The fee structure at the institute has been framed in a manner so as to ensure minimal financial impact on the families of enrolled students. The fees also covers their expenses for uniforms, shoes, and subsidized snacks & meals. Fees at KPITI is significantly lower than what is charged at other private ITIs in Gulbarga, informs Indiresh Kulkarni, principal, KPITI.
Certification for the courses is Government approved. Upon completion, trainees undergo apprenticeship training in their relevant trades at RCW with a monthly stipend of Rs 7,000, post which they can earn a minimum average wage of Rs 15,000-18,000 a month in permanent employment. This helps them to recover their course expenses in a very short time.
With over one thousand two hundred fifty-six students passing out till 2020, the institute has helped power the economic engine in and around RCW's adopted areas in Sedam. Around 40% of KPITI trained youth are absorbed at RCW every year (including for apprenticeship, contract skilled laborers and permanent workmen) and rest find employment in other industrial units in Gulbarga or in other parts of the country after pursuing higher studies, and some choose self-employment.
BENEFICIARY CASE STUDIES
Naveen Kumar Badiger, 31, Engineer at Panipat Cement Works
Hailing from Modhol village, Naveen Kumar Badiger's family could not afford to pay for his higher studies. KPITI was the best option for him to learn basic technical skills and find a way to alleviate his family's financial condition.
Badiger rates his two-year course in Electrician with on-site training among the best in the region, especially when compared with the experiences of his friends who got trained at other private institutes in Gulbarga. “I got the feeling that I studied in a better ITI – teaching facilities and equipment were very good and well-maintained," he says.
Post-KPITI, he worked in a couple of jobs before deciding to pursue his dream of higher studies. After a three-year Diploma in electrical and electronics engineering from a government polytechnic institute, Badiger was able to secure a job as Assistant Engineer at RCW through a campus interview in 2010. Currently, he is working as a Senior Engineer at UltraTech unit in Panipat, Haryana. “For those from economically backward families such as myself, KPITI has been a blessing," he says.
Amiroddin, 27, Welder, Self-employed
Growing up, schooling and studies weren't exactly Amiroddin's strong point. Yet he made up for that through sheer diligence and hard work. A resident of Udgi village, located around 6 km from RCW, his father was employed for 18 years in RCW's packing department. Encouraged by KPITI alumni success stories, Amiroddin decided to sign up for the one-year welder course at KPITI after completing his pre-university studies. “I was always interested in technical work, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to acquire some formal skills," he says.
"We got to learn a lot of practical things through our training," says Amiroddin, who later worked for three years at RCW at a starting monthly salary of Rs 9,000. By the time he moved jobs three years later, he was making Rs 15,000 a month.
Six months ago, he took yet another important decision that would change his fortunes. He teamed up with a former colleague to start his own business of metal fabrication, making windows, shutters, grills etc. Today, Amiroddin says he makes more than twice his last monthly salary. "I never had much interest in studies after class X. KPITI changed the course of my life, and now I am confident I can do anything," he says.