Residing in the village Timakiya in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh is 24-year old Poonam Singh. The young lady does not cover her head with a veil as she heads out to work in a Maruti Suzuki dealership, doing a job only men are typically supposed to do. She has many firsts to her credit. Not only is she the first (claimed) female in the country to complete her automobile mechanic course followed by an apprenticeship from the government-run Industrial Training Institute (ITI), going on to win a President’s Award for the same, but also the first female in the family to have a ‘company’ job.
Earning INR 12,000 a month as salary plus incentives based on performance is considered to be a bright prospect in a region where structured jobs are hard to come by, more so for girls. As a supervisor, her job includes assessing every car that enters, ensuring it is serviced properly and handling client queries on delivery. She is said to be passionate about her job and wants to learn more about vehicles and machinery. Poonam acknowledges that she was fortunate to be part of the second Maruti Suzuki supported batch which benefitted from upgraded infrastructure and value added inputs aligning students like her, more strongly to industry needs.
Trained on cars and systems, with practical experience, factory visits, interaction with engineers/managers and a strengthened curriculum, ITI is becoming a go-to place for many boys and girls from lesser privileged homes wanting a job in the auto industry.
Poonam, Supervisor at Mann Service Center, Meerut, said, “I never thought I would make a career in a male dominated profession. Not only did I do well in the ITI course but got a good job and promotion at Maruti Suzuki automobile service workshop. Now, I am planning to do an advanced course. I have always done things girls typically do not do. Machines interest me and my experience at the ITI has further fuelled my interest in cars and auto parts.”
Mr. Pankaj Narula, Service Head, Maruti Suzuki India Limited said, “Our experience shows, more and more students are now opting for Motor Mechanic, Auto Body Repair, and Auto Body Paint courses. Especially, the 52 ITIs where we have set up Automobile Skill Enhancement Centres, the number of female students for the automobile trade has gone up to 200 in 2017 which was around just 60 in 2014. This is an interesting trend and shows the success of such interventions.”
He added, “The automobile industry is growing at a faster pace. There are more number of cars on roads thus creating a major employment opportunity in quality service and repair of vehicles. We have partnered with around 105 ITIs to enhance the skills of the students enrolled for automobile trade. By providing them hands on experience we have seen an increase in placements of students. This way we are able to contribute to the national efforts for skill development and employability.”