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Breaking Gender Barriers in India’s Automotive Industry

13 November, 2019

Men and their passion for automobiles are inseparable. They can talk about gears and clutches for hours at an end. But when girl mechanics, trained at the Little Flower Engineering Institute (LFEI) in Kalamassery-Kerala, stormed the debate and shattered this male bastion, they were instant celebrities in their own right.

From repairing heavy trucks to luxurious new-age cars, these women trainees are altering the perception that they cannot undertake heavy-duty or complex tasks. Through a one-year course – jointly run by TATA motors and its dealers, students are given theoretical inputs in select industrial training institutes for three months. Then, they are placed with dealers to get hands-on training through an on-the-job training with TATA Motors dealers and TATA Authorized Service Stations (TASS) for nine months, during which, they are given a monthly stipend as well.

Girls from LFEI not just made them equivalent to their male counterparts, they dominated over them in the National Auto Skill Fests by TATA motors. They fuelled the journey of LFEI to become overall champions for two consecutive years (Kolkata, 2018 & Goa, 2019). Inspired by the success of the program, more girls are now coming forward to take admission to this course. These girls are a part of the Learn, Earn, and Progress (LEAP) program which imparts automatic skills (service technician) to school dropout youth. Once they complete the training, they are assessed by ASDC (Automotive Skill Development Council) and over 80% of them have found employment with an average salary of 8000/-. Remarkably, at least 4% of the youth have gone on to become entrepreneurs, generating additional jobs for over 50 people from their communities (leading to an increase in the average local annual income to around Rs. 1 lakh).

The institution arranged a best-in-class training facility for the candidates. A good number of vehicles, the latest diagnostic tools, highly competent trainers and even a service station for the public to have their vehicle serviced. Director cum Principal Fr. Joby Aseethuparambil, leading the way for this institution to an automotive training hub in association with TATA Motors and various other automotive organizations.

The course has now gained immense popularity with the number of admissions shooting up to 1500 in four years. Today, many prefer it over courses offered by Government ITI. A short duration course of 3 months each has added and close to 3000 youth (of which, 40% belong to SC/ST category) are trained in partnership with Pratham and TATA Strive. There is also a 6-month mechatronics course offered for diploma/engineering graduates by TATA exclusively in LFEI. This course is helping the aspirants to get in-depth knowledge of automotive mechatronics and associated systems. With very few seats and immersive learning, the course is now attracting more people to venture into the area of automobiles. These programs generate employment in the TATA Ecosystem and are a classic case of strategic business connect.

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