• Human resources

"A story of success"

When Shivaji Bajad first stood in front of one of the trucks that would soon become part of his everyday life, he was full of disbelief. “It looked far too small to lift two or three tonnes,” recalls the 24-year-old from Nandangaon, a village some 500 kilometres from the industrial town of Pune in western India.

Yet the yellow truck, which Shivaji saw at Voltas, KION’s brand company in India, at the start of his training as a mechanic, raised its load without any difficulty whatsoever. “I was fascinated by how this machine managed to do it,” he says smiling. For Shivaji, this encounter with a forklift truck also represented the start of a new chapter in his life. At home in his village, Shivaji, the son of a farmer, had completed two years of basic technical training. For many young men in India with a similar social background, it would have ended there. But it was not enough for Shivaji. “I heard about a Learn and Earn Scheme in Pune and I applied for it.” Successfully.

The programme, which is funded by industry in India and run by the Yashaswi Institute of Technology, is very similar to the German system of dual vocational training that closely links theory and practice. In addition to their income, the trainees receive free classes every day after work as well as being given grants for food, work clothes and health insurance, plus 15 days of paid holiday.

KION India started its collaboration with the Yashaswi Institute of Technology back in 2012. “We were one of the first company to start the programme,” says Joshi Shailesh, Head of HR at KION India. “A lot of companies have since followed suit.” And it’s obvious why. “Training in India tends to be very theoretical, whereas this programme offers an equal split between theory and practical training. The trainees benefit from that because they learn a lot about the trucks,” says Joshi. According to figures from the institute, around 18,000 trainees are taking part in the programme in the state of Maharashtra, where the initiative was launched, in around 200 companies from all over the world.

Sunil Gupta, CEO of KION India, is a great advocate of the Learn and Earn Scheme. In the factory at Pune, it is easy to spot the numerous trainees from their dark red overalls, as they carefully assemble the yellow Voltas trucks on the production lines. After work, they haven’t got far to go for their theoretical instruction. The classroom is one floor above the production hall at the KION India plant in Pune. “The trainees who we are investing in today will give something back to us in the future. They confirm my belief that productivity and quality are not down to chance.” And as Joshi Shailesh knows, “Anyone who completes the training at Voltas has excellent career prospects – not just here but anywhere in the country.”

"My parents were very happy"

Shivaji Bajad knew that too when he received his offer from Voltas. “Voltas is a household name and my parents were very happy that I had a real opportunity.” And prospects too. After the three years of training, the young man with an endearing smile admits that he had been “a little worried about what would happen next.” But KION India had a vacancy for a mechanic at one of its dealers, which was conveniently also based in Pune. “It was great being able to put what I had learned into practice at a dealership.” With his first salary payment, the newly appointed employee fulfilled a dream of his: he bought a second-hand motorbike, which he now drives to work every morning through the Indian traffic congestion.

Shivaji proudly wears his immaculately ironed Trinity dealership shirt. He’s not as keen on working out front with the customers, he says. That usually involves carrying out quick repairs. He prefers to be working more closely on mechanical systems and engines in the workshop, disassembling them and putting them back together, getting to the bottom of things – and learning as he goes. Four graduates from the programme already work at Trinity and another five are required. For the dealership, the ex-trainees from the Voltas factory are a godsend: they know the trucks inside out and can use their expertise to resolve customer problems quickly.

Shivaji sends two thirds of his income home

The programme has certainly paid off financially for Shivaji Bajad. He earns 15,000 rupees per month, equivalent to around €200, which is double the earnings of his less qualified friends in the village. He sends two thirds of his income home. This is so that his family can renovate his parents’ house, which is also home to his brother’s family. So far Shivaji has only managed to get home once every six months at best, and then only for three or four days at a time.

The renovations should be completed in 2016. But it may well be that Shivaji has even less time, for the young man has big plans. In 2017 he wants to embark on a degree in engineering. “By then I will be able to finance the next stage of my education myself,” he says proudly. For Sunil Gupta, CEO of KION India, it is quite clearly a story of success.

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