‘A combination of the available workforce in India and Germany's famed dual training system can prove a successful mix.'

As Germany and India focus on enhancing their strategic bilateral partnership, one field of increasing importance is the training of skilled personnel. A combination of the available workforce in India and Germany's famed dual training system can prove a successful mix.

The Indo-German commitment to work together in this field was reiterated during the recent visit to India by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and German Economics and Technology Minister Rainer Brüderle. During talks with Indian counterparts, vocational training emerged as a key area in our bilateral collaboration.

Young population an advantage

One of India's biggest advantages is its growing and creative young population. According to India's annual report on unemployment, the average Indian will be only 29 years old in 2020; compared to 37 in China and the US; 45 in West Europe and 48 in Japan. And for a country so young, it would be a boon to create a well-trained workforce.

To this end, Germany can prove to be an experienced partner — by bringing to India our system of dual vocational training. In simple terms, this means a combination of ‘in-the-school' and ‘on-the-job' training. Under the German dual system, vocational schools impart theoretical knowledge to a student for two days a week, and students spend the other three days on the job, in industry.

What is essential is that the knowledge gained in school is fully utilised at work, in real production processes. This way, students have access to equipment, machines and state-of-the-art technology at all times. This process is also cost-effective as the government only pays for the vocational school and not for the high-tech machinery.

Apart from the cost benefits, our German dual system also helps shape the mindset of employees. It fosters pride in doing something manual and being able to support oneself. In a globalised world, you need this kind of proud workforce to stay competitive.

As India aims to ensure it has 500 million skilled people by 2022, the first tiny steps towards an Indo-German partnership have been taken. In 2008, the German and Indian Governments set up a bilateral working group on Vocational Education & Training (VET). Led by the Indian Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Indian side includes members of the two major industrial associations — the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The German side is led by the German Ministry of Education and Research. Members include representatives of the chambers of crafts and industries, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) and iMOVE, the provider of ‘Training – Made in Germany'. With such resources coming together, we are certain that Indo-German collaboration has a great future.

Modernising ITIs

India is also looking at modernising its state vocational schools — the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). As a part of the National Skills Development Policy, the Indian Government is seeking to get German industry more involved under the VET. While this is a good starting point, there are various other aspects where Germany's expertise can prove helpful.

Germany has a very successful dual training model. This success is due to the quality of our instructors. And this is the kind of German expertise we would like to share with India. In fact, during Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma's visit to Germany in October this year, our countries agreed to enhance cooperation by providing a platform for the ‘Train-the-Trainers' programmes. Another point on the agenda was support in establishing sector skills council in food processing and retail trades, the media industry, as well as the tourism and health care industries.

An important area of focus that has come to the fore in recent times is the Business-to-Business (B2B) collaboration. This means we want to work together to provide a platform for contacts and collaboration between Indian companies seeking partners in skills development and German training organisations seeking partners in India.

Germany is also keen to share its experience to help develop a National Qualification Framework (NQF) in India. Also, we are an active participant in the Global Skills Summit, organised every year in New Delhi.

India has a fast growing economy and there are huge opportunities for cooperation between India and Germany, especially in this field. The German dual system of training has an excellent reputation worldwide and it would be our pleasure to use our expertise to help India create a well-trained workforce.

(Thomas Matussek is the German Ambassador to India.)

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