NTTF has grown over the years into a multi-disciplinary institution with 12 centres in the four southern States.

It was 1958 and the place was Nettur, a small hillock close to Thalassery. Alfred Frikschnecht, a young engineer working with the Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS), came to the sleepy town with a mission to provide, free of cost, skill-based technical training to under-privileged youngsters, as a purposeful alternative to conventional technical education. A firm believer in the concept of self-help, he was convinced that the best way to fight poverty was by nurturing the talent of youngsters and making them fit for gainful employment. This concept of self-help has formed the cornerstone of the Nettur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF) and has made the institute a pioneer in the area of technical training in the country.

The idea of a centre for providing vocational training took root at Nettur in 1959 with the support of the Church of South India (CSI) and HEKS. The centre continued till 1954 when the NTTF was formally established and took it over. HEKS continued its support to the NTTF till 1973 and has since grown over the years into a multi-disciplinary institution with twelve centres in the four southern States and 10 more in other parts of the country. The NTTF is celebrating its golden jubilee this month. The core training programmes of the NTTF comprise certificate and diploma courses in tool and die making, mechatronics, technical skills, electronics, Information Technology, computer engineering and manufacturing technology.Besides these, post-diploma course in tool design and post-graduate course in tool engineering are also on offer. Through its non-formal training programmes, the NTTF offers training to young school dropouts and the rural differently abled in the trades of milling, turning, grinding, computer applications as well as electonics assembly.

“NTTF goes beyond teaching a skill or preparing students for a profession. It also teaches self-confidence, self-reliance and self-respect,” says N. Reguraj, Managing Director of the NTTF.

The proof of this is in the large number of NTTF trained personnel setting up their own industries and managing them successfully, not only in India but abroad as well, he says. Over the years, the NTTF has built up a reservoir of trained manpower with managerial competence which enables them to take up programmes in institution building, he adds.

The NTTF has tie-up with organisations such as Matrix Training Centre, Sholingar and Mysore Paper Mills for setting up training programmes in applicable skill areas, with the Association for the Physically Handicapped, Bangalore, Worth Trust and Round Table, Katpa, the Karnataka Rural, Poor and Handicapped Women's Development Society, Bangalore for creating employment opportunities for the rural poor and disabled people and with the Ramakrishna Mission for providing skills to rural and destitute youngsters.

Moreover, the NTTF has a tie-up with over 50 companies in the IT, electronics and manufacturing sectors to train their employees in keeping pace with new techniques and developments. To impart this practical training, the NTTF operates full-fleldged tool rooms, injection moulding units, electronic assembly facilities. Some of the big names the NTTF has partnered with are TATA Steel, Maruti Udyog, Nokia, Saint Gobain, Keltron, OEN India as also the Government of Sikkim.

The NTTF, according to Mr. Reguraj, enjoys complete academic autonomy. Relevance to the realities of the shopfloor is the inherent feature of all the NTTF courses and its students are picked up by the industry as soon as they pass out, he says and quotes its founder: “We take 10 per cent material and add 90 per cent value to it." The Government of India and various State governments have extended their support. The single training centre with a small batch of trainees half a century ago has now grown into a major institution.