As mobile phone manufacturing grows in India, demand is increasing for a labour force well-versed in manufacturing technology.

In February, the Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit the headlines with the announcement that Rs₹1.14 lakh crore were invested in electronic manufacturing with about 15 new mobile phone manufacturing factories in the pipeline.

Consider this as an incentive towards increased interest in technical education: India’s mobile phone production reached over 10 crore units at the end of last year and is predicted to cross 50 crore units over the next couple of years. The value of mobile phones coming off Indian assembly lines was ₹54,000 crore in the 2015-16 fiscal year, a whopping growth of 186% over the previous year. Intex Technologies has an established monthly capacity of 45 lakh units, Samsung 4 lakh, Flextronics 13 lakh and Lava, Micromax and Videocon 10 lakh each to name just a few.

To address the resulting demand for a qualified workforce at least one mobile phone manufacturer, Intex, is planning to attract 3-year apprentices right out of high school. The apprenticeship programme, with design help from the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), starts August 22 taking in 200 high school students. The company aims to increase the intake to 600 next year.

Most of the local manufacturing consists of board assembly with imported components and, from Intex’s point of view, a well-trained workforce will help push the manufacturing up the value chain.

Earlier this year, the TISS rolled out its B.voc In Electronic Manufacturing Services – Mobile Phones three-year degree course (click here to check next available batch/inquire) partly in response to needs expressed by Lava executives last year. More recently, the TISS Dean told India Today that the vocational courses offered by the institute—there are several including those in telecoms, electronics and IT—allow students to get hired in first-level executive or supervisor roles.