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Empowering women in India

Sandvik in Patancheru (India) has launched a one-year training program to support young women who wish to pursue a career in manufacturing. Nineteen-year-old Mounika Ramavath says she learned something new every day.

India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) forecasts 6.8 percent growth for India this year and by 2030, India is expected to become the third-largest economy in the world, behind only the USA and China.

To sustain growth and increase gender equality, more women are needed in the workforce. According to the latest World Bank figures, fewer than one in five Indian women work – at least officially. Much work in India, particularly agricultural or domestic work, often doesn't get counted.

This forward-thinking program signifies our commitment to fostering female talent in the industry.

Like in other countries, the machining and manufacturing sector has been largely male- dominated. In an effort to contribute to the empowerment of women, Sandvik’s Rock Tools division has launched an initiative named STEP (Sandvik Training and Empowerment Program) at its production unit in Patancheru near Hyderabad, Telangana state.

“This forward-thinking program signifies our commitment to fostering female talent in the industry,” says Abhijit Hadap, Head of Production Units India at Sandvik Rock Tools in Patancheru.

Learning experience

The STEP candidates were chosen from a group of engineering diploma students through a rigorous selection process, which also took into consideration their family's financial needs. The first cohort of 10 women embarked on their journey in July 2022, and completed the program in July 2023.

The program provided the female trainees with a learning experience that divided their time between intensive theoretical training and hands-on practice in various technical topics. In addition to technical skills, the trainees were also taught crucial soft skills, including organizational values, Sandvik Code of Conduct, safety behaviors, and discipline.

Each day brought new learning on the shop floor.

Mounika Ramavath, 19, applied to the program to acquire organizational skills and says she enjoyed the experience: “Each day brought new learning on the shop floor. Based on the training and experiences I might receive the opportunity to continue as an employee. The program also opened up new opportunities for me in the labor market.”

The certificate award ceremony was held at the manufacturing site in Patancheru. “Equipped with a broad range of skills, these graduates are now prepared to seek opportunities in manufacturing and related sectors,” says Ravi Arora, responsible for CSR within Sales Area India, business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

A shift that matters

The program doesn't stop at providing training. The top 70 percent of high-achieving graduates were inducted as apprentices, allowing them to further their development within the company.

“As the program prepares to welcome its second group of students, it's a testament to our commitment to foster change and empower women in the industry,” says Nagaveni Bajpai, General Manager HR. “We are playing our part in making the shift.”

And the shift matters – not just to individuals, but to the country as a whole: according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), doubling the percentage of women in the workforce could boost India's growth rate from 7.5 to 9 percent.

More voices from STEP

Haripriya Reddy, 19, enjoyed working on machines and believes Sandvik has opened up a career path for her: “I’m building my skills to meet these expectations.”

Saritha Kangeti, 19, says Sandvik is strong on EHS (Environment, Health & Safety): “Sandvik is focusing on improvements through which we may achieve Industry 4.0 and world class status.”

Sindhu Laeshetty, 19, joined the program to acquire machining skills: “We were able to experience what we learned at school in a practical way.”

While working on the various machines wasn’t always easy, all of the trainees were able to cope with the challenges. They also appreciated how Sandvik treats everyone equally, without bias.