Good Businesses 2016

Welded To A Cause

Skillveri is training unskilled welders to become job ready and making welding a safe, yet rewarding profession


It was a newspaper article on how Delhi’s T3 airport was entirely built by Chinese workers that caught Skillveri’s founder, C Sabarinath’s attention. “I realised there is a huge skill gap waiting to be filled. In a country with such high unemployment rates, why should we bring in workers from China? It got me thinking about how we can solve this problem,” he says. Sabarinath was working with Vortex Engineering, where he headed marketing at that time. Vortex Engineering is best known for its low-cost ATMs. L Kannan, the founder of Vortex Engineering and Sabarinath were already discussing some ideas around vocational training. “I felt the time was right for me to quit my job and do something in this area. We were already talking about a simulator project. Kannan advised me to do some market research and develop a prototype and that’s what I did,” says Sabarinath. He quit his job by March 2012 and the day after he quit his job, he visited a shopfloor in Hosur to understand how welding was done and what kind of training the welders got. There were a couple of areas that he was exploring to offer training and that included welding, spray painting and drilling. “I found that it was in welding, that the smallest intervention could result in a large impact,” he reasons. He found out that most welders receive no formal training. They joined in as helpers and learnt by watching other welders. While the helper’s salary was around Rs.5,000 per month, with proper training this could easily be doubled to more than Rs.10,000-12,000 per month, leading to a significant improvement in their standard of living. Some courses offered training for 3 months to a year for welders, but they weren’t really helping them earn better salaries since they couldn’t deliver the required skill set. India has around 10 lakh welders, of which only 10% have received some kind of formal training. With another 22 lakh welders needed in the next six years, fixing the skill gap was a problem that Skillveri wanted to solve by bringing in technology. The ‘veri’ in Skillveri derives its origin from Latin where veri means right or authentic. This seems appropriate in Skillveri’s case since it is focused on imparting the right skills to welders.