Some of the German industrial majors including Siemens, BMW and Mercedes Benz have ambitious plans of investment in Tamil Nadu in the next few years, Consul General of Federal Republic of Germany Hans B. Sauerteig said here on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the inauguration of an extension building at Auroville Institute of Applied Technology.

“Germany has taken the lead in becoming the number one trade partner with India in the European Union. Small-scale industries have an indispensable role in the industrial development of India. The industries produce a range of 7,500 products which are 40 per cent of the total production and 35 per cent of the total exports of India,” he said.

Mr. Sauerteig noted that the small-scale industrial sector also addressed the problem of unemployment by providing direct employment. He went on to stress the importance of vocational education.

Principal of the institute Lavkamad Chandra said that apart from the new building, the institute was also starting a new stream of technical skill training programmes. The institute has got the nod to start two new courses in Civil Draftsmanship and Electronics and Communication. The institute would be offering short-term courses for the benefit of persons living below the poverty line, he said.

“Our aim is to impart skills to the rural youth so that they can be self-employed or gain employment in the local market. Skill training is instrumental in the development of rural areas,” Mr. Chandra said.

The project has been taken up with 75 per cent funds from the Ministry of Economic Cooperation, Germany. Cognizant Foundation has donated a computer laboratory and scholarship for 22 students, Mr. Chandra said.

India required more vocational training, he said, adding that industries could promote students of the vocational stream. “India is producing too many engineers but there are very less qualified persons for vocational work,” he said.

N.R. Krishnan and S. Ramamurthy from Cognizant Foundation and Member of Auroville Governing Board Aster Patel spoke.