Bosch Response to India Development & Growth through Employability Enhancement

By auther pic. Faiza Ruksar Arif

January 13, 2020

Bosch Response to India Development & Growth through Employability Enhancement

Students with Job Offer letters & Certificates at BRIDGE Valediction

"Educationists should build the capacities, spirit of inquiry, creative, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model." These words belong to the former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam and still ring true in 2020 where the prosperity of our nation lies in the hands of the young generation. Their potential and contribution to our shared future warrants urgent attention given that the livelihood sector is in crisis. Characterized by a shortage of skilled manpower in the services industry, and coupled with a high migration of unemployed youth into the unorganized sector as well as a lack of qualified vocational trainers, there exists an ever-increasing discrepancy between a company’s skill requirements and the capabilities of the workforce.


In a country where 65% of the population is below 35 years, unemployment, especially among youth, can limit the nation's ability to reap the much-hyped demographic dividend. Recognizing this challenge, a wide range of stakeholders, including the government, companies, civil society organizations, and for-profit enterprises are working either independently or in cohesion to enhance youth employability. One of the most significant contributors to towards this cause is Bosch Pvt Ltd.’s ground-breaking BRIDGE program.


 Identifying and enrolling deserving candidates into the program


Bosch is a leading supplier of technology and services in the areas of Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. Over the past 60 years, Bosch in India has created a space for itself in the society not just as a technology and innovation pioneer, but also as a company that 'cares'. The concepts of sustainability, responsibility and social welfare have been intrinsically woven into the corporate ethos of the organization since the company's inception. True to the vision of its founder, Robert Bosch, the Group has constantly been engaged in activities that create a sustainable impact. The defining character of Bosch Social Engagement is sustainability. The entire Bosch Social Engagement program is designed to create clear storylines as per the needs of society and to create long-lasting impact and change the lives of the people for the better. Bosch's corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are designed to create an impact in Vocational Training, Health, Hygiene and Education, and Neighbourhood Projects.


Bosch's vocational program called BRIDGE (Bosch's Response to India's Development & Growth through Employability Enhancement) is a PAN India program that started in 2013, which focuses on fulfilling the growing need for skilled manpower across sectors in India while also securing a stable future for the unemployed youth. Research has indicated that over 25 lac students fail to clear their 12th  exams and are left out of the education system, with no mechanism to track their fate. While young girls become victims of early marriages, a large portion of the unemployed youth migrate towards the unorganized sector and remain largely unskilled and underpaid. Thus, Bosch's three-month BRIDGE program has been exclusively designed for this section of society (18 to 25-year-old), who fall in the  'Not in Education, Employment and Training' (NEET) category. The purpose of working with this target group is to inculcate industry-specific knowledge with special emphasis on life skills, soft skills, and hands-on experience to enable 100% job placement for each BRIDGE candidate. The core features of the program include a free learning kit, demand-driven modules with industry-specific content, well-equipped classrooms, Bosch-trained trainers, internship / On-the-Job Training, focus on life skills and placement assistance. One batch of the course accepts 25 beneficiaries and four batches are conducted per year. Bosch has allotted 246.45 million INR towards the project where 10,000 INR is spent per beneficiary.


The core elements of the BRIDGE program include mobilization and enrolment of students, distribution, and utilization of the BRIDGE learner resource kit and placement assistance at the end of the program. Student mobilization is the first step at BRIDGE where BRIDGE Center members actively engage with local community stakeholders throughout the year to ensure that enough students are mobilized. Furthermore, the data published by state and central governments on students who were unable to pass 12th class and school dropouts are used to identify the ideal candidates for the BRIDGE course. Post-mobilisation, the selected youth are invited to the local BRIDGE Center for one-to-one counseling sessions with the BRIDGE team. These sessions enable students to acquire information and clarify queries about the program. After a preliminary interview, documents of the participants are also checked to ensure authenticity. After the application forms have been filled, the students are admitted as BRIDGE students.


A BRIDGE Learner Kit has been carefully curated and is distributed to each beneficiary on the first day of the training program. The toolkit is a master resource that contains a bag, uniform, books and writing materials required by the students across the duration of the course. The curriculum has been curated as per industry demands and contains modules on life skills, communication skills, customer and community service, self-presentation and personality development, industry-specific skills, spoken English, computer skills, value education as well as on the job training and internship opportunities. The ultimate aim of BRIDGE is to ensure that every student can secure entry-level jobs in the services sector. As a prelude to placement, the trainers are also responsible for providing each student with an 'OJT opportunity'  which is an internship in the job sector or company that they wish to get employed in. 


To maximize the access of the BRIDGE to the target youth, Bosch has undertaken three distinct initiatives. The first is a partnership between Bosch and MEPSC (Skills Council) for the 'Train the Trainer' assessment for the program where over 500 trainers have been trained to create a pool of skilled and motivated trainers that will successfully impart employability skills across locations. Secondly, Bosch has consolidated Private-Public partnerships with three states- Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, thereby upgrading 88 government ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) where BRIDGE is held. Lastly, Bosch also supports industry-academia collaborations and has tie-ups with a multitude of deemed universities, pre-universities (PU) colleges, higher secondary schools, and private training institutes. Bosch has tied up with universities that offer MSW courses to conduct the BRIDGE program on their campuses so that their MSW students can also benefit from it. BRIDGE continues to expand its footprint across the country through these initiatives and envisions one BRIDGE center in each district. Bosch has provided capital and support for the infrastructure, computers and projectors, tables and chairs, internet facilities, creation of the BRIDGE learner kit, hiring trainers, mobilization support and collateral, training the trainers and certifications.  Mobilization challenges are being overcome through a partnership with NSDC centers. Through this tie-up, Bosch can support the centers with Placement Assistance which is a valuable addition to the program.


Bosch has also laid the groundwork for strong monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for BRIDGE. A needs assessment of both the industry as well as learners was carried out and data was collected and collated from various stakeholders such as Bosch management, HR personnel, vocational instructors, NGOs, community leaders, think tanks and government officials on education and training. They have also established a meticulous process for recruiting credible training partners. A weekly training plan is given to the trainers, which includes activities centered on role play, situation-based activities, etc. A weekly feedback session is also conducted with the trainers to further improve the process. There exists a detailed database of every student registered for the BRIDGE camp to regulate intake. To ensure a smooth transition of the program at every step, a BRIDGE coordinator is tasked with the responsibility of quality control. There is also a weekly review meeting conducted at the head office for this purpose. A timely review of content is also undertaken and adding required material is part of monitoring. Like all other areas, placement is also directly monitored from the head office.


BRIDGE has seen phenomenal growth across a period of six years – expanding from one center in 2013 to 272 centers in 2019. During the course of the program, BRIDGE has successfully trained and placed 26000 lesser-educated youths. The first batch was conducted in Bangalore, Karnataka. Upon receiving a positive market response,  new areas were identified and training centers were set up in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Indore, Jaipur, Nashik, and Lucknow.


BRIDGE has been well received and continues to be a promising endeavor in the field of employability enhancement. Learnings from the field have shown that there exists ample government educational infrastructure, but a void in curriculum and knowledgeable trainers. Bosch seeks to leverage this space for scalability through strategic partnerships with like-minded and committed organizations. In the next 5 years, BRIDGE envisions to have 600+ centers, training and placing over 100,000 school dropouts. BRIDGE has proven to be a well-oiled machine, with a ripple effect of change. The beneficiaries report feeling cared for, an increase in confidence and skills and have reportedly been employed within three months post BRIDGE. Furthermore, the program has also encouraged beneficiaries to continue higher studies post BRIDGE through correspondence courses. The trainers have also reported skill development where they can build a career within the skill training space and acquire an understanding of the latest training methods. The coordinators and community mobilizers were also positively impacted and were able to manage communities effectively by honing their coordinating and data reporting abilities. Employers also gain access to a large pool of untapped and upskilled labor. Thus, Bosch's BRIDGE has proven to be integral, as its name suggests, in reducing the gap in the labor market and thereby enhancing employability.


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Faiza Ruksar Arif is a content specialist and researcher based in Bangalore who has worked extensively on curating curriculum and educational programs for adolescents in Telangana. With a Master’s degree in Gender Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Faiza is on a mission to improve social realities by equipping women and other marginalized sections, with improved access to health, education and livelihood opportunities. She also dabbles in artwork and is passionate about issues pertaining to mental health and minority politics.


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