The all pervasive construction industry
The construction industry is the second largest employer in India. Construction industry of India is an important indicator of the development as it creates investment opportunities across various related sectors. Hence if GDP with sustainable growth is the goal then adequate skills in industry are the condition precedent. This is possible only with the means of a dynamic tool like Continuing Professional Development (CPD) imparted to the resource pool of skill & knowledge workers entering the industry.
Construction activity creates physical assets in a number of sectors of the economy. Construction sector includes infrastructure and has two segments:
- i) Buildings, fall into one of the following categories: residential, commercial, institutional and industrial; and
- ii) Infrastructure such as road, rail, dams, canals, airports, power systems, telecommunication systems, urban infrastructure including water supply, sewerage, and drainage and rural infrastructure.
However, buildings are a part of each infra structure sub sector, being predominant in some and low profile in others. Table 1 shows infrastructure category & sub sectors that fall under that category. As the focus is on skill sets the obvious inference should be that if the skills are met for infra they by default should be in conformity to building requirements.
Such gigantic ‘Assets’ once created also need to be maintained. Many upstream economic activities depend upon the construction sector. It is roughly estimated that 40-45 per cent of steel; 85 per cent of paint; 65-70 per cent of glass and significant portions of the output from automotive, mining and excavation equipment industries are used in the construction industry.
Running each industry type needs several skills including trades, technical and managerial. And these skills have to be continuously upgraded to the demands posed by developing technologies. This in turn means that a minimal skill/domain knowledge is required at entry level and same has to be honed with time progression.
The construction industry employs around 40 mn people, of which 80% are involved in infrastructure construction and maintenance, i.e. 32 mn. Further, an Aon Hewitt research and analysis shows only 3-5% of the 32 Mn have received any formal training or certification in the necessary trades. (Figure1) . The industry operates on a norm of 1:4 skilled to unskilled ratio. Thus the number of trained and certified workforce required is 6.4 mn. However, with only 3-5% of 32 mn formally trained or certified, a gap of 5.12 mn trained personnel exists in the current workforce (Figure 2). ITI / ITC Seat Distribution split is in Figure 3 showing dismal annual output.
Thus institutions delivering task force to industry should be delivering quality output which then from a base level can be taken to higher newer levels of skill sets with minimal cost and time expenditure. As will be seen here-on construction and infra structure covers a whole lot of industry and field types thus needing base knowledge upon which specialized knowledge can be built by engaging in particular field for a trade.
– The institutions output of tradesmen and engineers should be of acceptable quality that fits industry needs. The question is whether such is the case?
– The second vital question is the adequacy of quantitative output of tradesmen & engineers to meet present and future needs? And the adequacy of skill upgradation set ups to meet the demand.
Construction accounts for nearly 60-80 percent of the of project cost of roads and housing and a significant portion in case of other infrastructure sectors. Construction materials such as cement and steel, bricks and tiles, sands and aggregates, fixtures and fittings, paints and chemicals, petrol and other petro-products, timber, minerals, aluminium, glass and plastics account for nearly two-third of the construction costs. The forward and backward multiplier impact of the construction industry is significant.
Can ‘demographic dividend’ turn into ‘demographic disaster’?
By 2025, it is estimated that 70 per cent of Indians will be of working age. This ‘demographic dividend’ could give India an edge over the developed countries where a larger segment of the population would by then be past retirement. However, this demographic dividend can easily turn into a demographic disaster if a majority of the working age population remains unemployable due to a lack of skills. Even today, one hears of a shortage of skilled workers across industries, which does not augur well for sustaining India’s economic growth. The construction industry lacks sufficient plumbers and construction machine operators, resulting in a slowing of construction activity and increasing the overall cost of projects, posing a major challenge to India’s infrastructure development plans.
The construction industry is continually looking for skilled resources, skilled talent across all levels starting from masons, plumbers, electricians etc. to architects, site managers, etc. Shortage of skilled labour hinders the progress of work there by delay in meeting deadlines i.e. timely output. There is a vast difference between the business need and the skill set possessed by the workers in the industry today. Most of the gaps in the skill sets are in areas of core knowledge and skill required to undertake relevant job role as a part of construction project.
The biggest challenge faced by industry today is that most talent available for key construction activities like masonry, carpentry, brick work etc. is unskilled or has crude skills with limited job relevant knowledge.
The Human Resource Crunch
Construction industry faces acute shortage of skilled workers especially in mechanised trades. Even in the case of engineers, there is reduction of share of new trainees in Construction Engineering Streams (Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering).
This is due to reduced intake by colleges following the lack of placement opportunities for civil engineers. The trend is due to the fact that the quality of output delivered by most colleges is below par and not fit to industry requirements. This has to be reversed by stepping up curricula to be in tune with requirement and also by closing down ‘fly by night’ institutions that trade degrees for monetary considerations. Don’t mass-churn graduates who are not needed by the industry and are not equipped with the basic technical know how of their trade and as a result are becoming a part of India’s vast unemployment pool.
Construction Industry needs infusion of at least 6 million persons per year. The total training capacity is woefully inadequate. Against a requirement of over 3.5 million trained tested and certified workers, the capacity available is about 0.5 million per annum. The ITIs, both in private and public sector are not able to offer many trades relevant to construction Industry.
Implementation of national Human Resource Development (HRD) initiatives in the non-formal sector, including the workers’ level to the upper levels of engineering and managerial categories is essential. As a broad based indicator the manpower demand on infrastructure is shocking (See Figure 4).
Therefore it is a foregone conclusion that major bottlenecks exist in different phases of implementing infrastructure projects in India. The growth of skilled and semi-skilled manpower in India has not kept pace with the growth in infrastructure projects. Survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation show glaring gaps between workers entering the market every year and the paltry few who receive training. India’s vocational training curriculum is largely outdated and not based on clear standards.
Further, the current certification process is based largely on theoretical testing, and does not ensure employability.
This is clear when ‘Stakeholders’ reveal several common challenges in the each phase of infrastructure projects:
– Quality of planning and engineering design is poor: Project plans are of poor quality and lack attention to detail, which creates problems such as scope changes and variations during project execution, thereby creating disputes and delays. Also, nodal agencies often do not adopt a value engineering mind set to project design, thereby increasing the project costs.
– Inappropriate Contracts usage Construction phase beset with over-runs and disputes: Ineffective resolution of disputes, shortages in the availability of skilled manpower and weak performance management in nodal agencies result in time and cost over-runs.
– Availability of skilled and semi-skilled manpower is insufficient: While the infrastructure spend has been growing fast, the pool of skilled and semi-skilled manpower (e.g., welders, fitters) has not kept pace with it. This shortage is causing project execution delays. Structural issues with India’s vocational training approach, coupled with abysmal training capacity, pose a threat to the successful execution of infrastructure plans.
– Provider skills are weak across the value chain: While there are examples of companies that have matured from small, unorganised contractors to large, well-organised construction companies, notable skill gaps remain. These include:
- Weak risk management skills: The skills and tools Indian providers have to assess and manage risks are weak compared with their counterparts in developed countries. McKinsey’s assessment of leading construction companies in India reveals a low prevalence of global norms of risk assessment. This increases project costs and results in project failures when providers take up projects beyond their capabilities.
- Below-par design and engineering skills: Providers under-utilise the value engineering opportunity in EP&C and PPP projects due to the lack of a value engineering mind set as well as poor capabilities. Most providers do not have an adequate organisational set-up to capitalise on this opportunity.
- Lack of best-in-class procurement practices: While most Indian providers attempt to optimise procurement, their practices are not best-in-class. Global majors commonly follow practices such as demand consolidation, new vendor development, preferred relationships through frame contracts, and joint cost reduction. Prevalence of these procurement practices in India remains relatively limited. As a result, estimates suggest that potential savings opportunities of 5 – 20 per cent of the addressable costs are forgone.
- Low prevalence of lean construction principles: Lean construction is a nascent phenomenon globally. Discussions with leading industry players suggest that most Indian providers have not adopted lean principles.
As a result, opportunities to reduce time and costs by 20 – 30 per cent are forgone.
To reduce these skill gaps proper schemes in collaboration with industry needs to be worked out, so that, the construction industry which is the largest employer of worker force is able to provide good wages for skilled workers with high productivity and together the team gets on with the task of delivering sustainable infrastructure for the future generations.
CPD Key to Professional & GDP Growth
CPD (Continuing Professional Development) is ‘learning that adds to and enhances a person’s existing occupational, technical and professional competence in a process of lifelong learning. The CPD element alignment should be central to regulatory compliance and set standards that can withstand the toughest of scrutiny thus guaranteeing market credibility from the outset’.
To be competitive in current times and henceforth the Indian construction industry will have to be in tune with the profound change that setting in due to continuous disruption taking place in all industries across the board including those based on IT dependent processes on technology influenced by international developments. Hence it becomes imperative that as an industry, construction needs to meet the arising fresh demands of stricter building regulations, best of class efficient and competitive procurement processes, the use of innovative and diverse technologies in the design and construction processes, and increasingly demanding building contracts. Skills therefore across the the boards have to be upgraded or more pertinently ‘up-skilled’. While improved/new construction equipment handling may become essential for skilled workforce, newer software in design/ planning/ procurement/ operation/ maintenance will stare at executives, engineers and management cadres. What it means is:
Only those businesses that proactively, recognize, respond and effectively adapt to this change will continue to survive and depending upon comparative performance advantage among competition flourish in the market.
Continuing Professional Development is already fast becoming critical to businesses as a potent ‘survival mantra’ that has to be employed to effectively identify the improved pathways required to negate the risk that changes bring to business environment.
Thus the idea of implementing across organization the ‘right fit for purpose’ quality CPD that addresses each area of identified risk serves as enabler that protects all stakeholders that make the organization including brand image and the consumer. It is therefore imperative that all those involved in the construction process are suitably trained in up-to-date regulatory, technological and business management processes, with CPD taking up the critical role to reach this coveted goal in a focused manner.
Few Points to remember are (See Figure CPD- How it works):
- CPD must be carefully planned to facilitate and encourage appropriate training of all personnel within organization based on real requirement.
- CPD will be focused on management and supervisory staff whose input is essential to achieving compliance with legislation and regulations, but will include Craft Workers and General Operatives whose workmanship is central to realising quality performance in practice.
- CPD design should be manageable within cost and time commitments while building the capacity of an organization to deliver a professional service.
- CPD therefore should be treated as a dynamic tool which keeps evolving by honing skills based on organizations’ need to continuously be competitive in market.
- Existing CPD opportunities exist to address current challenges, while new CPD must be developed to meet emerging needs.
CPD comprises a combination of structured (Figure 5) and unstructured (Figure 6) or informal learning with learning hours reflecting the size and nature of the registered entity.
Structured CPD includes attending formal courses approved as structured CPD, company training and development, structured and verified tool box talks, attending and speaking at verified conferences and CPD events, including online learning covering topics related to skill sets of the cadre.
Unstructured/Informal CPD includes learning from colleagues on the job, reading, reflecting on one’s own work, and activities undertaken outside work, which automatically serve as a default feed back into one’s work.
The nature of CPD will vary to reflect the particular role and level in a company, from Manager to Supervisor to Skilled Worker of each trade to the unskilled one. The CPD plan (see Figure 7) for each will dedicatedly focus on the individuals’ specific needs to be fully compatible with the current enhanced needs of his job role demands. This way the organization at all levels from base to apex of the pyramid gets continually equipped to be ready take on competition bull by the horn.
CPD How It Works
Appropriately aligned structured CPD to hone skills and technical competence is relayed by Government, Private, Industry houses and also by Universities, Institutes of Technology and other recognised professional bodies as PPP or otherwise. (See Figure 8).
The diligent Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC)
Being an industry association formed with the initiative of the Planning Commission CIDC is a prime mover actively involved in imparting training and skill upgradation of the workers in the industry.
Construction Industry Professional Training Council (CIPTC) is a body promoted by CIDC and leading players representing the Construction Industry. CIPTC has undertaken to offer diploma programs, Advanced Diploma in Civil Engineering and Post-Diploma courses in distance learning mode and/or traditional mode in the fields of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Trenchless Technology.
CIDC Under an MoU since 2002, together with Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has been offering joint certification Diploma Programs in Civil and Electrical / Mechanical Engineering to Indian Army personnel at the Army Centres in Roorkee, Pune and Bangalore.
CIDC has an MoU with Assam University, Silchar (AUS) for continuing and extension education program(s) for construction professionals and workers.
CIDC promotes technical education in Construction Industry jointly with State Board of Technical Education, Govt. of Haryana (SBTE).
CIDC with Periyar Maniammai University (PMU), Thanjavur offers all modes of Diploma programs.
CIDC has a MoU with Rajiv Gandhi Proudyogik Vishwavidyala covering Professional & Vocational technical programs in Central India.
CIPTC is the operational & supervision arm that conducts these programs with IGNOU, SBTEH, AU, RGPV and PMU
The broad objectives of these programs are :
– To offer need based and tailor made academic programs for the specific need of supervisory level manpower engaged in Construction & those desirous to serve the Construction Industry.
– To upgrade and modernize the technical know-how of those engaged in the construction related activities apart from the fresh candidates desirous of taking careers in Construction Industry.
– To provide better industry-education linkage by matching learners’ educational needs, while collaborating with professional bodies like CIDC and other technical institutions.
CIDC has taken steps in association with a few states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Haryana for training and certification of construction workers.
These states have made available the physical infrastructure of the ITIs situated in their States, where training in self-financing mode is being conducted by CIDC and skill certification is given by CIDC. This scheme needs to be extended to other states after auditing the scheme and removing any deficiencies.
Ministry of Labour and DG (ET), NCVT (National Council of Vocational Training), have taken measures to launch skill certification initiatives through CIDC and also under MES/SDI schemes. Resources from the SDI (Skill Development Initiative) Scheme can be used for training the workers in construction industry.
Some firms in the construction industry such as L&T have undertaken their captive training programmes. More firms should be enter with such efforts being upscaled and accelerated.
Construction Skill Development Fund (CSDF)
Though investment should pour in from all stakeholders for skill upgradation the government already has one source of funds for doing this which can come from The Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996 which aims to garner resources, through a cess but does not lay down specific norms for expenditure of the sums, thus collected.
A dedicated fund for human resource development in the construction industry set up for taking into account this important mission forward in form of a ‘Construction Skill Development Fund (CSDF)’
Skill Development Initiative Schemes:
A skilled worker is any worker who has some special skill, knowledge, or (usually acquired) ability in their work. A skilled worker may have attended a college, university or technical school. Or, a skilled worker may have learned their skills on the job. The unskilled worker is a worker without any formal training like supervisor, carpenter, mason, electrician, plumber, mazdoor, etc. both need skill development.
The vocational training system under Ministry of Labour and Employment is one of the most comprehensive systems in the country. This scheme has two facets,
– To provide vocational training to people through different MES (Modular Employable Skills) courses to hone their skills
– To register institutions as VTP (Vocational Training Provider) for giving Training
Salient Features of MES Scheme
The time period for training is not counted by the number of days; instead the system is based on the number of hours to ensure flexibility in training. The courses are for short duration (90 hours – 180 hours) so that the trainee is able to reap the advantages of the training at the earliest. For daily 2 hours training one can be trained in just 20 days.
The duration of the module is less, thus, enables a person to carry out his regular work/ profession concurrent to the training. The training schedule is so flexible that a person can attend the class part time, full time or on weekends. The place of the training could be on site or offsite.
The major issue needing attention is continuous skill upgradation and reducing attrition rates of engineers from the Construction Industry.
The urgent need is to have curriculum for construction developed and synchronized with existing & new trends. This should cover all trades and engineers construction management proficiency.
As per a CIDC survey, nearly 85 per cent of engineering graduates are unemployable on graduation. This position can be improved by internship after or during graduation.
A pilot project undertaken by CIDC with an Engineering University saw employability going up significantly. A continuing programme for industry orientation and experience for teachers is essential for improving employability further.
Workshops are needed at every state capital in collaboration with engineering institutions to evolve a mechanism to improve the engineering curricula and also introduce apprenticeship.
A structured interface is required between the industry bodies and the Ministry of HRD, UGC and AICTE on these issues.
L&T’s CPD Needs a Special Mention
L&T Construction is playing a key role in creating skilled labor through its Construction Skills Training Institutes (CSTIs) that are spread across the country.
L&T began to promote Construction Vocational Training (CVT) in India by establishing a Construction Skills Training Institute (CSTI) in late 1995 at Chennai. For more than a decade, CSTI has been developing skilled workforce through structured training.
At present, basic training is imparted in seven trades-Formwork Carpentry, Masonry (brickwork), Bar Bending and Steel Fixing, Plumbing & Sanitary, General – Assistant, Construction Electrician, Welding, Prestressing and Transmission Line and Tower Erection.
Its structured training enables both new entrants and less experienced workers in the industry, progressively improve their knowledge and competencies in the respective trades. Construction skill standards are formulated for different trades after carefully analyzing the knowledge and the skill expected for each level of competency. In addition, different trade tests have been specified to assess the knowledge and skill level attained.
The Construction Skills Training Institute (CSTI) has separate conducive campuses at Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi and Cuttack for Practical and Class Room Training.
It’s key objectives are:
– To train the construction workforce to meet the challenges and demand for world class construction skills in terms of safety, quality of workmanship and time.
– To identify the training needs of the construction workforce and set standards to monitor their occupational competencies and technical skills deployed in the industry.
– To disseminate knowledge and appropriate skill practices through recognized systems of training, testing and certification to validate competency levels
– To facilitate training by setting up modular training schools with well-defined infrastructure and curriculum.
– To serve the social objective of the organization by channelizing the potential and strength of rural youth in India, for producing a trained construction workforce capable of delivering world class standards.
To meet the ever increasing demand for developing skilled workforce CSTI initiated joint ventures with vocational training institutes across the country to train rural youth.
CSTD signs MoUs
– With Odisha Government December 2012 for the setting up of a main construction skills training Institute (CSTI) at Cuttack – Odisha, 4 sub centers for sourcing of candidates and adopt 5 ITIs as knowledge partners for imparting Construction skills training.
– For expanding the sourcing area and training capacity. L&T’s CSTD signed a MoU with ELDECO Real Estate Developers in its process of expanding the sourcing area and training capacity. In this model, the eligible candidates will be sourced by ELDECO and there after the first month of training will be imparted at Lucknow following which the trainees will be sent to CSTI-Pilakhuwa for two months training.
Tie-up with MoRD
L&T entered into a MOUin March 2009 with the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Govt. of India in support of implementation of “Demand Driven Skill Development Programme” of livelihood through training. This strategic tie-up with MoRD is a part of L&T’s Skill Development initiatives by means of training the rural youth in Construction Skills, to enable their livelihood and it is covered under Swaranjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojna (SGSY) Scheme of Govt. of India.
CSTC Chhindwara has been set up at Chhindwara in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
L&T-CSTD signed a MoU with JSS Mahavidyapeetha, Mysore on 7th July 2008 to provide Construction Skills Training to the unemployed youth of Mysore and Chamarajanagar.
Tie-up with Gujarat Governement Signed MoU with the Directorate of Employment & Training (Labour & Employment Department), Govt. of Gujarat for setting-up construction related trades in Govt. ITIs under MES.
CSTI Signs MoU with Jindal Steel and Power Limited – The CSTI of L&T Construction signed a MoU with Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) on April 3, 2012, to promote construction skills training centres in Angul and Barbil in Odisha, Godda in Bihar, Patratu in Jharkand and Punjipathra in Chattisgarh.
L&T entered into a MoU with Henry Boot Training Ltd and the Construction Industry Training Board of UK for the development of modular training.
‘Training the Trainers’ involves experienced L&T personnel from construction job sites in respective trades being drafted and professionally trained to deliver instructions, assisted by experienced workers to demonstrate field practices. Such trained persons are eventually posted to effectively impart trade training.
Career Progression Plan
The Training Programme design using a modular approach allows for continuous assessment of achievement and recognition at each stage of training. Trade Competency Tests at all levels are conducted at periodical intervals to determine the knowledge and skill standards attained. Technicians who successfully complete the training to the standards required under the continuous assessment programme are awarded the respective trade certification.
CSTI – Kanchipuram has been accredited by the Indian Institute of Welding – India, as an approved training centre to conduct National Welders Training and Certification Scheme (NCWTCS)
And in this manner L&T in 20 years has to its credit,
– Over 50,000 trained technicians from Construction skills training Institutes (CSTIs)
– Over 1,25,000 workmen through MoUs & tie-ups
– Over 1,50,000 workmen of subcontractors
– Over 2,00,000 workmen trained through e-learning modules
Skill Development Initiatives by Other Ministries/Departments
Apart from the initiatives of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and DGET, about 17 Ministries of the Government of India are also engaged in skill development activities. These include the following ministries/department:
– Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Rural Development
– Ministry of Human Resource Development (for Higher and Technical Education) including the setting up and upgradation of polytechnics
– Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation
– Ministry of MSME
– Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
International Models in Skill Development
It is all about Productivity, Productivity & Productivity!! And it matters not, which country you decide to go. Vocational education has evolved along different paths in different countries. Germany and Switzerland are the top most. Korea has done well. Some of the major frameworks that are available internationally for driving policy in skill development are cited here as examples.
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) is a quality assured national framework of qualifications in the school, vocational education and training (VET), and higher education sectors in Australia. The AQF comprises:
– National guidelines for each of the current national qualifications issued in the senior secondary school, vocational education and training and higher education sectors
– Policies and guidelines for articulation, credit transfer and recognition of prior learning register of authorities empowered by governments to accredit qualifications
– Register of institutions authorised to issue qualifications,Protocols for issuing qualifications, and
– A governance structure for monitoring the implementation of the AQF and for advising Ministers, including recommendations for change.
AQF’s key features are Recognition of prior learning, Seamless pathways (for enabling easy movement into and out of vocational training), and importantly Credit transfer.
VET is the hallmark of Germany’s educational system in. Two-thirds of young people undergo vocational training in the dual system. This training would ideally last two to three and a half years, depending on one’s occupation. It is a ‘dual system’ as training is carried out both at the workplace and in a vocational school. The aim of training is to provide a broad-based basic to advanced vocational training to impart the skills and knowledge for practicing a skilled occupation within a structured course of training. Those completing the training are entitled to undertake skilled work in one of about 355 recognised occupations requiring formal training. The only requisite is student having completed full-time schooling before commencing vocational training. The key success factor for the German system is the added focus on apprenticeship.
The National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) were created in response for the felt need for qualifications to be made flexible but rigorous and nationally recognised. NVQs are also part of ‘Modern Apprenticeships’ which are funded through work-based learning. The funding varies between occupational sectors and by age group. The national framework covers general secondary and tertiary education, VET, work-based learning and prior learning. Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) describes the process of giving formal recognition to learning that derives from personal experiences often gained in employment or voluntary work situations.
At the industry level, Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) have been licensed and social partners are also engaged. SSCs are tasked with drawing up occupational standards for their sector that will feed in-to the national reform of qualifications. The Government expects each SSC to draw up a Sector Skills Agreement, in which employers and unions identify skills and productivity needs in their sector and the necessary actions to meet those needs.
The National Skills Recognition System (NSRS) is Singapore’s national frame-work for establishing work performance standards, identifying job competencies and certifying skills acquisition. It is implemented by the Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board with the support of the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. This has helped the industry train skills-standards consultants and assessors, as well as to develop On Job Training (OJT) blueprints for the skills-standards established.
To assess the workers, assessment centres were set up. Workers are certified either at centralised assessment centres, workplace or a combination of both. Supporting the NSRS implementation framework are promotional activities and financial incentives for the industries. NSRS is promoted at four levels, i.e., national, industry, company and workforce, in collaboration with employer groups, industry associations, economic agencies and unions.
India – The Way to proceed
As skill development in a large scale takes off, implementing agencies (government, institutes both government and private, vocational training providers, and other such implementers-shown in Figure 8) would be faced with challenges that come up at every segment of the ‘skill development value chain’ (Figure 9). In other words, these are challenges that each skill development centre or groups of such centres are likely to face. A large part of the current vocational training infrastructure, the Government ITIs and Private ITCs, falls under the Ministry of Labour and Employment’s Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGET). Engineering education, polytechnics, etc., fall under the category of Technical Education. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is the regulatory body for Technical Education in India.
The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is a one of its kind, Public Private Partnership in India. It aims to promote skill development by catalysing creation of large, quality, for-profit vocational institutions. The platform for industry ready talent followed by India is as in figure 8.
NSDC provides viability gap funding to build scalable, for-profit vocational training initiatives. Its mandate is also to enable support systems such as quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships. Its objective is to contribute significantly (about 30%) to the overall target of skilling/upskilling 500 million people in India by 2022, mainly by fostering private sector initiatives in skill development programmes and providing viability gap funding.
Considering the magnitude of the challenge in terms of skilling about 15 million persons every year and ensuring that the workforce of 500 million is adequately skilled by 2022, it is required that the way forward comprises of adequate initiatives to achieve these humungous targets in the right ‘scale’ and ‘speed’. Some of the possible solutions to address the issues outlined are as follows:
Targeting skill development at all levels of the ‘skill pyramid’: It is required to not only skill and educate the workforce at the higher skill levels (which is key to ensuring industry competitiveness through research and IP, etc.), but also to adequately skill the workforce at the lower levels (i.e., where much of the workforce is concentrated).
Accordingly it is required that skill development initiatives be targeted at all levels of the ‘skill pyramid’.
Implementing Vocational Education in schools: Vocational Education in schools should be enhanced. This will present a channel for students to acquire skills, both life skills and industry-specific skills during schooling. The vocational education system should be enhanced from the current availability under the National Institute of Open Schooling.
Creating a large talent pool through Modular Employable Skills: The Modular Employable Skills (MES) framework provides a means for multiple-entry and multiple-exit skill development. It brings with it a flexibility to offer short-term, demand-led courses with partnerships. Increased adoption and will help achieve the required scale in skill development.
Ensuring Quality in Delivery: Quality will have to be driven (as well as be determined) by the following dimensions at the level of each/individual institute/centre (See Figure 11):
- Strong Governance and Administration
- Adequate and appropriate faculty
- Current curriculum
- Relevant infrastructure
- A defined process for evaluation of student learning from in-gate to out-gate, employment, and employability
- Rewarding partnerships.
Employing technology to achieve scale: Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-led interventions will help achieve scaleability, standardisation, and maximisation of impact. ICT can have a role to play in the following areas:
– Need Assessment and Sourcing (through media, internet, community based mobilisation, employer views)
– Curriculum Design and Development (standardised curriculum which can be easily replicated and offered at multiple locations to aid scale up)
– Education and Training Delivery (through recorded/interactive teaching input)
– Assessment and Certification (through e-testing, computer based tests, supporting current theory and practical tests)
– Placement linkages (employer and student views on demand, centralised placement systems).
Formulation of institutional mechanisms for content formation, delivery, and assessment:
The need for institutional mechanisms will arise the moment demand for training grows. This is because a cascading impact will set in, on the demand for content, standardised processes for training delivery, uniform assessment practises. Then will follow the demand for trainers and assessors which will be a critical bottleneck as other pieces of the ecosystem fall in place. Next there would be a need for standards and quality processes (quality systems formulation, quality assessment, quality certification/ training process certification) as the demand for training grows rapidly. Therefore mechanisms specifying of quality standards and practices should be in place to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Expediting the formulation of Sector Skill Councils
Since quality has to be ensured reliance on standards, with active industry involvement and its led initiatives, will be required to expeditiously form Sector Skills Councils. The National Skill Development Policy has proposed the following roles for the Sector Skills Councils:
– Identification of skill development needs
– Development of a sector skill development plan and maintain skill
– Determining skills/competency standards and qualifications.
– Participation in affiliation, accreditation, examination and certification.
– Plan and execute Training of Trainers.
– Promotion of academies of excellence.
Setting up of a National Human Resource Market Information System (A National Skill Exchange)
As indicated in the beginning itself profound ‘disruption’ will progressively become the norm with IT being the driver. The requirement for an ICT-enabled market information system will go a long way to help both employers and employees provide details on specific demand, as well as where the access to the skilled workforce exists. This should not only be limited to the vocationally skilled work-force but also be made available to the higher skill levels as well.
These are the key factors for transforming the skill development landscape in India as well as in improving and aiding the implementation of quality in skills training.
Having seen that CPD is the most credible tool to be put in place to reach GDP as well as professional growth let us take stock of the manpower requirement and skill gaps infra sector wise and within each sector skill wise.
This exercise is being pursued by utilizing the ‘skill pyramid’ explained here in above. One important point to be recapitulated here is that while estimating the manpower numbers for various sectors, it be remembered that with the advent of new technology and improved methods of construction, the number and ratios of executive, skilled, semi skilled, and unskilled workers, will change across years to come. The numbers for each of the infrastructure sector in the form of skill pyramids highlights the gap to be made up (See Figures 12 to 16).
As already said the demand side, 87.02 mn of blue collared workforce would be needed by the construction related activities of the infrastructure sector, for FY 2022. This includes workforce for infrastructure maintenance of existing as well as new infrastructure, till FY 2022. The infrastructure sectors considered, would require 37.6 mn skilled workforce (including Skilled & semi-Skilled*), for construction and maintenance in 2022 and unskilled workforce demand would be 49.42 mn in 2022. The manpower- white collared and blue collared workforce required comes to 16 mn for operations. Adding to construction and maintenance, the operations of infrastructure sector will give the sum total work force.
Masons, Carpenters, Electricians, Bar Binders and Machine Operators are the top five job trades that the industry needs by FY 2022. Hence, it is important that NSDC drives skill development initiatives specifically for these trades.
The good news is that vocational education is making its way on to the radar of the whole gamut influential bodies that wield the power to generate change. Its right time to not let this golden opportunity go by. Therefore, through the implementation of initiatives cited the Indian infrastructure industry would be able to be to generate effective remunerable employment while getting the right adequate pool of quality labour. It could be the dawn of new era where GDP growth as well as quality resource pool will be in nation’s hands!!