As a company, we follow a different strategy in addressing the sustainability of the skilling industry and completely believe in the demand-side model. The entire industry is based on the supply-side model, which finds people, trains them and then finds employers to hire them and course fees are largely funded by the government. And because of this model and the big increase in government funding, the number of courses and training companies entering the skilling industry are mushrooming, but there are no jobs guaranteed. This system has dissuaded people from joining these programs and thus, increasing the challenge in sourcing people. The model we follow focuses on three essential conditions - there should be minimum time gap between the training and the job; employer and job role should be identified in advance and as much as possible given a guaranteed job before the training begins; and training should be customized to the role. With this model, our success is measured in terms of whether or not the trained person is able to get and retain a job and not whether he/she is merely trained.
In this model, the employer has to make a commitment in advance and even pay part of the money because the course is customized for him. So, the employer paying money, committing time, guaranteeing jobs, advising on course curriculum, and also certifying the quality, were all unheard of a few years ago. So, last year we were working on establishing this model (we call it JOJOE Or Jointly Owned Job Oriented Training) by running the first pilot, understanding the job role, consulting with the client to develop a customized course, get the curriculum and the content approved by the company, and then starting the pre- assessment process, getting the training done under the supervision, etc. We worked with four clients including a leading bank, a fertilizer and agri business, a vaccine manufacturer and a cotton seed manufacturing company. All these four are national leaders in their own businesses.
These pilots were run in batch sizes of 25 to 33 people and 95 percent of them were finally placed in the roles they were trained for. All the four companies confirmed that not only is the JOJOE model working, but they also agreed to expand the scope of the job to much larger numbers and are also now looking for additional roles to be trained in this model. Now we are talking to many more clients.
The present challenges can be overcome if we involve the employee from the beginning. In this JOJOE model, the employer is driving the process. So, there is total buy-in from the employer as they engage in creating the curriculum as well as part pay for the course.
Another product, which we launched in Pune is called Aspire and Stepin. These models address the needs of the Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME,) which employ 90 percent of the workforce, but each one of these MSMEs cannot individually hire in large numbers. So, we have now launched the STEPIN, a solution for MSME segment wherein they can take two or three freshers at a time, but these freshers undego industry and role orientation training before they step into the job. Stepin is a short-term program, which is innovatively packaged, where selected candidates have to mandatorily go through training on graduate competencies before joining. This year, we are aiming to skill several thousands of people with this model.
Going forward, there are two big challenges facing the country. First is the economic growth which drives fresher hiring in a very big way. We are not creating employment, but are only filling vacancies. The growth has dropped; people are saying that the actual growth is going to be about 3%-5%. And secondly, the supply side expectations pose a challenge as the only roles in demand will be in sales and marketing. And most of the candidates are not prepared to do that job. Hence, there will be a lot of cost in convincing and finding the right person who wants to do the job. So, profitability will be a challenge.