In an effort to introduce a systematic institutionalised training system in an area largely dominated by the unorganised sector, LG Electronics has set up a network of ‘AC Academies’ to enhance the technical and operational skills of mechanics. At present, it has four ‘academies’ at its offices at Noida, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune. After covering the metros it will extend its operations to sub-metros and semi-urban areas.
Initially the ‘academies’ will cater to enhancing the technical and operational skills of their dealer and distributor communities to provide more proactive customer support and services. In order to expand their points-of-service network up to the smallest pockets, the company plans to extend the initiative to the unorganised sector to cover garage operators and local AC mechanics too.
Says LG Electronics head Room Airconditioner Division Salil Kapoor, ‘‘This year we plan to cover yet another milestone in our efforts to address the needs of the community that we work for across the entire spectrum. We have always pursued the idea of developing a continued relationship of trust with people. Setting up AC academies is one such initiative to propogate the idea of partnership.’’
Traditionally there is no formal system of educating mechanics in the industry with a majority learning on the job and helpers graduating to mechanics without learning the intricacies of handling and servicing the machines. Hence, such a move would not only help in bringing them into the mainstream organised business, but will benefit LG as well, since, if the local AC mechanic is an LG certified mechanic the prospective customer would also be reassured of getting good service.
To expand the points-of-service network up to the smallest pockets, the company plans to extend the initiative to the unorganised sector to cover garage operators and local AC mechanics too
The company would be spending around Rs 3 crore on the initiative this year, says Mr Kapoor. In the first phase, which began a few months back, LG will be setting up these training ‘academies’ at the major metros.
Says Mr Kapoor,‘‘While our long-term plan is to extend this initiative to the small assemblers and mechanics at wayside shops to professionalise their functioning, how we will reach out to them has not been worked out as yet.’’ One plan may be to tie up with the ITIs to improve upon the academic courseware, develop basic laboratory infrastructure, train the trainers and offer to give joint certification to successful candidates. The other course may be to tap particular cities area wise, which would involve a huge effort.
So far 1,800 mechanics have been trained. The course usually runs for a week to 10 days and the ‘faculty’ consists of people from R&D and production who provide practical and theoretical training.
LG is the first organised player in the airconditioning business to embark on such an educational initiative. The future scope of the LG AC academy is to provide professional courses for candidates and aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to develop aircon-ditioning as a career ahead.