Dearth of unskilled manpower has been an age-old saga for India. CW focuses on the ongoing initiatives towards skilling, existing shortcomings and offers recommendations to make India skill-efficient.
The facts have it! The total cess collected from the construction sector under the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Act, has now built up to a corpus of Rs 25,000 crore, with some sources indicating that the amount could be as high as Rs 37,000 crore.
Even if 1 per cent of this lower estimate of Rs 25,000 crore is spent towards skilling of the construction workforce - considering a minimum of Rs 20,000 spend per labourer - as much as 1.25 lakh labourers can be skilled.
As Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman, Construction Skill Development Council (CSDC) and Chairman & Managing Director, HCC, confirms, ´The ministry has instructed to spend 20 per cent of the BOCW funds on skilling the construction workforce and their eligible children.´ This could mean skilling of 25 lakh labourers (considering the Rs 25,000 crore cess).
And, while Gulabchand recommends that 50 per cent of these funds be transferred for skilling, the fact remains that these BOCW funds are largely lying unutilised. (Read Ajit Gulabchand´s interview on page 60)
Cess: Step towards skilling
In India, the construction sector is the second largest after agriculture, and engages 45 million workers directly or indirectly; estimates have it that 6 million workers get added every year to this industry. Further, as per National Skill Development Council´s (NSDC) incremental human resource requirement study for the construction sector, around 83 per cent of the workforce is unskilled, 10 per cent is skilled and the rest comprises engineers, technicians, foremen and clerical staff. Since the contractors have already paid the BOCW cess and the fact that the construction sector is growing through a slump, ´no further monetary contribution can be expected from the contractors in the current stage towards skilling,´ says Gulabchand.
Jitendra Thakker, Chairman, CREDAI Skill Development Committee, says, ´The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has written to all state governments stating that the cess amount needs to be spent on skill development. However, it´s been one year, and there has been no implementation.´
It´s not that the powers that be are not aware of the situation. At a recent conference in Odisha, Union Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya revealed that states are not utilising funds even after collecting huge amount towards cess from the construction sector; construction workers remain neglected and exploited. He cited the instance of Odisha saying that the state government has Rs 940 crore deposits from the construction sector cess, but the state has so far spent only Rs 120 crore. He also added (echoing a sentiment from Gulabchand), that in some states, funds are utilised otherwise, and not for construction workers, who have primary rights over the cess amount.
This amount can be utilised under four heads - health, education, skill development and social security (including pension); but this is not happening. ´The state governments need to be made aware that utilising the cess will improve productivity; it will create jobs and improve the quality of life for many construction workers, and offer several gains to the industry,´ says Gulabchand. Obviously, the corpus from the cess could have made a substantial difference to the quality of life for these labourers, who often toil under impossible conditions, but just collecting the money is not enough. There has to be some action, quite literally, on the ground.
The government is in the know of the problem. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Union Minister of State Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge), Government of India, comments, ´The cess amount collected by builders and developers for construction workers is huge. The Act also states that the fund is to be utilised for the welfare and skilling of construction sector workers. We are in talks with concerned authorities in this regard.´
Thakker says that Maharashtra has taken an initiative and is going ahead with the training. Also, the Chhattisgarh Government has started the formation of the skill ministry; and he adds, ´We are pursuing the same in Gujarat as well.´
In Gujarat, the cess amount is not used for skilling, but the state is bringing out a lot of support schemes for labour and they are helping local developers for skill training in the state.
The skilling domain in the past was being managed through around 10 ministries of the Government of India, but it remained a low priority on their agenda. The formation of NSDC was the first concrete decision of the earlier UPA Government, where it was decided that the skilling domain should be taken up by the private enterprise.
To this Jaiprakaash P Shroff, Director, Shroff Group and Convenor, CREDAI Skill Initiative Committee, says, ´With all the support from the government now, with the formation of the independent ministry for skill development and entrepreneurship under the leadership of Rajiv Pratap Rudy and a budget of about more than Rs 20,000 crore, the target of making India a skill capital could well be achieved.´ Thakker adds, ´Fortunately, for the first time since Independence, a skill industry has been formed in this country. Although Rajiv Pratap Rudy has been working well towards it, conversion shall take time.´
Thakker goes on to point out that India´s organised workforce was only 2.5 per cent of the overall total when the vision of making India the world´s skill capital was charted. In the last one year, this has jumped to 4.7 per cent. ´So, I expect a major difference in skilling in the next five years,´ he says.
While the construction sector would have to play a pivotal role in achieving this target, one must recall how during the Gulf boom, Indian workers played a significant role in construction activity, particularly in Dubai. Gulabchand says, ´We have started with the establishment of Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), and the notification of all the trainings being conducted in the country to be aligned with the National Skill Qualification Framework (NAQF).´
However, the Prime Minister´s vision of making India the skill capital of the world is only possible once the efforts are synergised. For this, the skill movement has to be a collaborative and inclusive one. Additionally, the country´s demographic dividend needs to be leveraged and skilled manpower should be provided to all countries.
Jayant Krishna, Executive Director and COO, National Skill Development Corporation, adds, ´Increasing mechanisation of production processes will require workers to adapt to a highly mechanised and computerised manufacturing environment. The mismatch between industry requirements and the education provided has to be addressed and workers need to be multi-skilled.´
However, lack of formal certification means a labourer is considered unskilled, even if he is carrying out a highly skilled activity.
Gulabchand recalls the labourers who are not certified, but still do a marvelous job with par excellence finishing while high-end buildings are being constructed. ´So, this is not skilled?´ he questions, adding, ´We need to understand the difference between a formal certification and lack of formal certification versus real lack of skill on-site and existing skills. And then, when we want higher productivity, further training will help.´
To this, Shroff adds, ´Skilling and certification has to really pick up momentum. The construction SSC should create more assessing bodies and develop the Qualification Packs (QP) for so many other skills such as waterproofing, doors, windows, hand-railing, etc.´
However, Dr PR Swarup, Director General, Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC), highlights some loopholes. ´The first problem is the splitting up of the functions,´ he says, adding, ´´For example, plumbing, which is an integral part of construction, has a separate council.´
He highlights the main issues relating to this as:
The construction sector has over 65 different trades as far as skill sets at worker and supervisor level are concerned. These represent infrastructure plus housing. Housing is only 17-18 per cent of the Indian construction portfolio. But, the certification body constituted has members whose main focus is housing trades.
Delivery of ´standards´ over seven years leaves much to be desired. Very few of the trades, relating mainly to housing sector, have been taken up. Comprehensive ´standards´ even for these few trades, have yet to be finalised.
Ability of the body to address the vast certification system is extremely limited. Swarup opines, ´As such, the concept needs to be totally overhauled and alternative, equally competent professional organisations need to be roped in to address the vast challenges of this vast field of construction.´
Taking on challenges
Of course, skilling India is a challenge in itself!
Gulabchand highlights the two major issues faced by the industry. First, many of the jobs are low-level entry functions, so most people don´t get trained. Second, the nature of the job means that many of those employed are migrant labourers. On his part, Thakker points out to the challenge in reaching out to labourers. He says, ´Labourers are developers as well as contractors, and they have sub-contractors who have labourers, so reaching out to them and convincing them for training is a big challenge.´
Suggesting the most important aspect here as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Gulabchand says,´There might be a labourer who does not have a certificate but is working on site for 15-20 years, and he surely knows his job well.´ Another important task here is to create mobile training units to recognise those who know the job as well as train new people. But this has to be done at the worksite.
Industry steps in
Some corporate have been active towards developing skills within the construction sector for various trades.
Larsen & Toubro, for instance, has been a pioneer and leader in envisioning and establishing Construction Skills Training Institutes (CSTI) in India.
SN Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director & President, L&T, says, ´Well before the construction industry began to struggle for the want of adequate skilled and semi-skilled labour, we realised our vision to develop well-trained, efficient and safety-conscious workmen at entry levels to meet our ever-growing internal requirements. Added to this, the advent of advanced technologies made it imperative to create a new set of workmen, which is what our CSTIs are delivering.´ (Read more on L&T´s CSTI on page 64) Also, JCB has 15 Operator Training Centres across the country that offers a one-month course on operating and maintaining its machines. The course is 30 per cent classroom-based and 70 per cent focused on practical training. (More on JCB´s initiatives on page 56)
What´s more, CREDAI has started training in 18 states, for which it has roped in different training partners such as LabourNet in Delhi, and it has its own unit û Kushal in Pune. Thakker says, ´Our target till March 2017 is to train at least 1 lakh people, of which we have already trained around 40,000 people.´ With the training designed on the basis of industry standards set by CSDC, the association does not depend on the government to take the skill activity ahead. Thakker adds, ´Until and unless the state governments set a mechanism, we will not depend on them.´
Speaking more on the initiatives offered by Kushal, Shroff says, ´Kushal is Pune CREDAI Metro´s pilot project to train 20,000 workers in three years with financial support from NSDC. We have already completed the target and have now gained and certified more than 27,000 workers in six trades - bar bending, shuttering, brickwork, tiling, plumbing and painting. The target has been set to train 100,000 workers in 10 years.´
Moreover, the private sector through the PPP mode has established the SSC as an industry-led body, which gives strategic direction and inputs to the CSDC for the development of national standards, which meet the requirements and demands of the industry. Through SSC, construction industry companies have agreed to train and certify 20 per cent of their workforce, which will include contractors and sub-contractors as well.
National Skills Development Council
To promote skill development works in the construction sector, NSDC has created CSDC, which aims to develop, establish, standardise and sustain industry competency frameworks, skill levels, occupational standards, build, create and deliver capacity, investment and skilling outcomes, which shall meet or exceed customer expectations through ethical, transparent and effective management of the Construction and Infrastructure Industry Skill Development Fund.
´Ninety three QP along with 534 National Occupational Standards (NOS) have been identified and recognised in the construction sector as per industry standards, till date,´ says Krishna. He further informs, ´Under the fee-based model of NSDC, as on August 31, 2016, we have trained 312,095 (Cumulative number since 2010) individuals in building, construction and real estate services. In FY2015-16, we have trained 133,324 candidates, and in this fiscal, till date, we have trained 27,956 candidates.´ In terms of job creation, he adds, ´We have already achieved a target of creating 1.04 crore jobs since Skill India was launched and our mission is to skill 40.2 crore youth in India by 2022.´
Under NSDC, overall 8,844,315 candidates have been trained cumulatively till date since inception. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) alone, NSDC has conducted 410 Kaushal Vikas Shivirs across 300 constituencies in the country and the scheme has seen 1,977,638 candidates enrol in these courses. Additionally, the council has been able to raise some great partnerships under the PPP model through its engagement with companies and entities such as the Indo-US Aviation Corporation Program, CIFCL, Computer Age Management Services, Ambuja Cement, and has had some significant CSR contributions towards skill development.
´We are closely working with the corporate sector to attract private sector investment in the skill development space,´ Krishna adds. ´In this regard, large corporate such as Mahindra, Kalyani Group, Future Group, etc, and PSUs such as ONGC, Coal India and NTPC have already partnered with NSDC to set up skill development capacity across the country. Also, we have partnered with more than 15 ministries so far, and our collaboration is seeing some great contributions from each, in terms of infrastructure for skill development, training youth as per the identified curriculum and then hiring them, and monetary contribution to promote skill development in certain regions and segments.´
Construction Industry Development Council
Some of CIDC´s notable initiatives for the construction industry include offering skill development at all levels and setting up of on-site and off-site training centres. The council has trained, tested and certified over 400,000 personnel so far. Under the National Skill Development Policy, it is mandated to impart skills to 200 lakh citizens by 2022, and the council is taking all measures to meet the targets.
CIDC has set up the Construction Industry Vocational Training Council (CIVTC) as a nodal agency for Human Resource Development at the secondary level in the construction industry as a whole, including the construction work personnel, and construction supervisors and sub-engineers. What´s more, it works at various levels with the Centre and state governments, national and state universities, and major construction companies.
´The council approaches construction companies for ´On the job trainees´ (OJTs) for deputing at any of their worksites for an apprenticeship period of minimum 45 days and maximum 60 days,´ says Swarup. ´Construction companies, while giving practical training, utilise their services by sponsoring the boarding and lodging support to the trainees. At the end of the OJ training, companies have the option to absorb any or all the OJTs at their project sites at a reasonable salary.´ Simplex Infrastructure, BG Shirke, Billimoria, Shapoorji Pallonji & Co, Punj Lloyd, Pidilite Industries, Sobha Developers, and others, have joined hands with CIDC in this endeavour.
National Academy of Construction (NAC)
With its centres in all the districts of Telangana, NAC is a unique institution that runs a whole range of training programmes from the grass root level for construction workers in skill formation or skill upgradation in various trades of the construction industry, and trains middle to senior level engineers in various aspects of construction technologies, materials, etc. The academy designs customised training programmes and has provided consultancy to states such as Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, with consultancy for Haryana currently in process.
The academy has empanelled with NSDC to provide training in the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) job roles through SSCs.
As K Bikshapathi, Director General, National Academy of Construction (NAC), Hyderabad, informs, ´NAC has 400 construction companies, builders and contractors on board for placement of construction workers and introduces new technologies and methodologies into the curriculum as per the requirement of the industry.´ The academy also introduces new trades for training based on industry demand. When the chief minister of Telangana, who is also the Chairman of NAC, learnt that the state lacked skill workers for dry walls and false ceilings, the academy started a training course for the trade, and till date, has trained youth in four batches.´
Having acquired numero uno status as Vocational Training Provider (VTP) by training 3.6 lakh people in different construction related activities, NAC is considered to have trained the maximum number of construction technicians. Further, with the aim to train unemployed youth and place them in the construction industry, NAC has entered into MoUs with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), Skill India scheme by the government, EGMM, MEPMA, DRDA, ITDA, etc, of state governments.
In India, sourcing funds is no cake walk, be it for a big-ticket construction project or towards developing the skill-sets to execute the same.
As Shroff says, the approximate expenses for training include certification of the trainees by SSC, which comes to about Rs 12,000 to Rs 13,000, depending on the trade. Of this, approximately Rs 5,000 is contributed by the developer in terms of wage loss, wastage of material on site, expenses of setting up a training centre and other miscellaneous expenses. Also, Kushal has been able to raise about Rs 2 crore from sponsorship, etc.
In terms of funding, NSDC provided a grant during the inception of SSC itself. Krishna says, ´The construction SSC has been able to work with construction leaders like HCC, Shapoorji & Palonji, L&T, CREDAI, and many others.´
These industries have helped the corporation in development and validations of industry-required job roles and also encouraged training of their workers. Also, at the time of the inception of CSDC in September 2013, NSDC had given a grant of Rs 5 crore, of which, Rs 3.2 crore has been received so far.
As CSDC confirms, the council is participating in various schemes under the Centre and states; however, no specific grant has been received so far.
Nothing comes for free, and so is in the case with skilling as well. One way certainly is making available the construction cess collected by the state government under the BOCW Act.
´Over 5 years, 33 million workers are expected to join the sector.´
RAJIV PRATAP RUDY, Union Minister of State Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge), Government of India, shares a quick update on the ministry´s plans and initiatives to develop skills for the construction sector with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
What will it take for India to achieve its vision of being the ´skill capital´? How can the construction sector contribute to this?
The country can become the skill capital of the world once the efforts of skilling are synergised. We have started with the establishment of Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) and the notification of all training being conducted in the country to be aligned with the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF).
The efforts today are staggered and, hence, the results too. We have to leverage the country´s demographic dividend and provide a skilled workforce to countries. As far as the construction sector is concerned, there is a huge demand for a skilled workforce. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has proposed establishing standalone skill development centres for the industry, including construction players. These industry-linked centres would revolutionise the skill development delivery mechanism.
A major concern for infrastructure players is skilled labour.
What would it take to address the shortfall?
An estimated 6 million jobs are created in India every year in the construction sector; hence, over the next five years, 33 million workers are expected to join the sector. About 75-90 per cent of these additional employment avenues will require some vocational training. At the present moment, we need the correctly estimated skill gaps.
We need to have the skill requirements and the workforce demanded by national schemes like Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat, Housing for All, Sagarmala, Bharatmala, AMRUT, HRIDAY, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, interlinking of rivers, and many more. This will help map the right skills and will meet the right jobs. The industry also needs to come forward in the overall exercise. Let us know our demand - we will train the individuals in those job roles under our initiatives, and let the industry absorb them. If we are able to stitch this loop, we would successfully be able to address the shortfall.
Construction has high backward linkages in employment. What are your current initiatives for skilling labourers?
Being the second largest after agriculture, the construction sector engages 45 million workers directly and indirectly. Six million workers get added every year. The same is projected to increase to 59.40 million in 2017 and 76.55 million in 2022.The sector development plan has two distinct aspects: The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme for experienced workers (45 million workforce), and skilling new entrants. To be specific, under our framework, there are opportunities in both short-term and long-term skill development initiatives. Whether it is the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana or the ITI ecosystem, construction is a major focus for the government. And, I have always been saying that if we want to ´Make in India´, we need ´Makers in India´.
Germany, for instance, is contributing Rs.22.6 crore to skill development in India. How do you see international participation coming in?
We have been interacting with various countries in this regard, including UK, Australia, China, Switzerland, Germany, France, Canada, etc. Sharing best practices is something that would develop the ecosystem globally. Apart from the technological advancements and best practices of the industry, international participation is sought not just in terms of learning and understanding of vocational training and education systems of these developed nations, but for the development of transnational standards. These help in the successful migration of a skilled worker from one country to another. These are internationally accepted standards that give workers identification and recognition of their skills.
How is the government collaborating with the private sector to encourage skill development programmes? Is there an additional role that the private sector can play?
Under the PPP mode, the government has established 40 SSCs, which are industry-led bodies. Corporate Skill Centres are another mode of bringing the industry and private players into the fold of skill training of workers.
The RPL programme is formulated to address the needs of experienced professionals who already have the skills. Without having to leave the site, construction workers can be trained and assessed under this programme. We have also come out with various models of corporate partnership. The government is ready to partner!
How is the ministry addressing emerging trends technology and mechanisation on the education and experience fronts?
The qualification packs (QPs) by SSCs are developed after a thorough functional analysis of the job roles of the industry. Each qualification is developed by a team of experts and industry representatives and is vetted by over 30 industry players, NSDC and NSDA. The thorough process of development of outcome-based national standards addresses the needs of the sector and its upcoming demands. These QPs get revised every two years to incorporate technological or mechanisation-based changes.
How are states responding to the Centre´s initiatives and partnering with the ministry to promote skill development?
Skills have existed in the ecosystem for decades and various states have independently made significant progress as far as skill development is concerned. I have had the opportunity to engage with majority of the states and discuss potential avenues of cooperation. I will soon also be interacting with various state governments with a formal agenda of partnership under the World Bank project and through various other initiatives of the Central Government. There is a highly encouraging response from the states, and I am sure that together, we will be able to transform the skills landscape in the country.
As we understand, there is a complete revamp on the cards for the National Skill Development Corporation...
Yes, there is a change in leadership, in the approach, and everything is aligned to the goals of Skill India.
The focus will remain on ensuring more PPPs on the skills agenda.
Setting up of sector-based skill certification bodies in the country can help generate trainees certified for specific skills. Is the ministry considering setting up such bodies or developing partnerships?
As announced by the Honourable Finance Minister in the Budget speech, the ministry will soon be establishing the National Board for Skill Certification. At present, complete responsibility for certifications lies with the SSCs; however, to formalise the entire effort and rationalise it under a single certification body, the board has been envisaged. We are simultaneously partnering with other countries such as UK, Australia, Singapore, etc, to ensure recognition of our certification internationally.
Equipped with the Right Skills
India has the potential to emerge as the human resource capital of the world. The challenge lies in the fact that only 4.5 per cent of its total workforce is skilled. That said, in the construction equipment sector, technology is galloping by leaps and bounds with machines becoming increasingly sophisticated. Hence, there is a need to understand the product well and utilise all the technologies incorporated into the product by the manufacturer.
The operator should be able to harness its advantage in terms of productivity. ´It is important for machine operators to be fully skilled and know the efficient and safe way of operating a machine,´ says Jasmeet Singh, Head-Corporate Communications and External Relations, JCB India.
Today, all large-scale infrastructure projects are technology intensive. This drives the need for skilled manpower to handle equipment. Singh cites the example of road technology, where, if the equipment is operated incorrectly, it ultimately affects the quality of the asset being built and results in a huge loss of time and project value. JCB has 15 Operator Training Centres across India that offer a one-month course on operating and maintaining its machines. The course is 30 per cent classroom-based and 70 per cent focused on practical training. The company also plays a major role as part of the Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC). Many of these centres are now linked with the IESC. ´So, we are absolutely geared up for the government´s ambitious skill initiatives and contributing in our own way,´ affirms Singh, confirming that, to date, the company has trained about 25,000 candidates across these 15 centres.
JCB also has an in-house welding training school at Jaipur where a 16 week detailed training programme is organised for fresh diploma graduates. Comprehensive skills developed through these programmes have helped young employees progress in their careers, especially lady engineers who are making their careers in the traditionally male-dominated areas of welding and assembly.
For our dealers who employ over 4,500 service engineers, there are regular training programmes to ensure that they are abreast with latest technological innovations in our products. JCB has a full-fledged parts and training centre at Pune. We also have dealer-engineer assessments. We had over 1,000 training days in 2015 for 350 different courses.
Indeed, India´s largest construction equipment manufacturing company is committed to skilling the sector - it has played a transformative role to about 22,000 people, from the in-house team to dealers and supply chain vendors.
´Almost Rs.37,000 crore accumulated cess is lying unutilised, which could be used for skilling workers.´
- Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman, Construction Skill Development Council
The Construction Skill Development Council (CSDC) has been constituted under the mandate of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), a PPP organisation to promote skill development in the country. The role of CSDC involves developing Qualification Packs (QP), curriculum and assessment guidelines; building capacity (training providers, trainers, assessors); skill and assess (ensuring quality training and conducting fair assessments); and certifying as per National Occupational Standards (NOS) aligned to National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) levels.
Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman, Construction Skill Development Council, and Chairman & Managing Director, HCC, shares more on the council´s targets, training trades, wages and more, in conversation with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
NOS: The role of the council involves setting NOS for different skills and assigning required grades. The council has, so far, developed 100 QPs. The difference between regular education and skills training is that ´skill training is outcome-based´. NOS, if set today, would need to be enhanced five to 10 years down the line. Experts need to work the standards out and seek the industry´s approval for them. Further, if needed, these standards need to be diluted for new or inexperienced workers for them to prequalify and acquire at least grade one. So, the whole objective for a labourer is to acquire knowledge that enables setting up small specialised businesses or climb up the ladder in the existing business beyond just physical skill work.
Need for trainers: One of CSDC´s key objectives is to provide assessors and create a class of trainers of the trainers. Only if trainers are available will people set up training schools or mobile units that can be used at construction sites for training for prior learning assessments under RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning). So, the objective was that the skills council would become self-sufficient; the trainer will be paid by the trainee for assessing. But in the construction sector, there is no willingness to pay to acquire skills. Today, getting a grant from the industry is tough because the economy is not doing that great. It is improving but still not in the phase where contractors and construction people feel generous. Second is the fear of migration-I teach him and the next day he is gone. Third, some years back, the government passed a law to collect labour cess for construction workers. Almost Rs 37,000 crore cess has been accumulated with different states. This is a huge amount that can be utilised for skills training of the construction worker.
Training for different trades: Unfortunately, when NSDC initiated the council, it divided the construction sector into various trade councils such as plumbing, equipment, etc. This is not an ideal approach; it has to be a guild or an industry that sets the standard. For instance, in construction, a bulldozer would be used for waste, earthmoving and layering. And, operational standards for each activity are different. Similarly, consider paints - their application in automobile, buildings or an aircraft would all be different. So now, NSDC is rethinking and looking at rationalising, which is clubbing it back again. One option is to certify construction-related trades; these could become sub-groups within CSDC. The government must play a role to the extent of funding wherever required and allow the industry to develop its standards. If labourers employed in construction get RPL, it will be shocking to see how many trained people exist in the construction industry.
On wages: When it comes to super fancy machine operations, people pay more. This apart, in India, we used to have a huge difference between skilled and unskilled workers. So, there was an incentive: If you acquired skills, you would get 16 times your current wage.
But in the present day, there are no attractive incentives for labourers.
CSDC´s target: We initiated the council with enthusiasm but the base of doing things is low in India - whether it is creating operating standards and processes by which you can excite training centres to come and train people. RPL is important because you do not have to train anybody, but assess workers and certify them.
An uncertified labourer could be a well-trained one, but without a certificate. And, once existing skills are recognised, the next level is to train them for new skill levels. So, CSDC may have big dreams, but we first need the foundation of sufficient training capability û from individual trainers to institutes and mobile set-ups.
People will invest in training only if the labourer pays them, and this money has to come from either a government grant or the cess collected from the industry. CSDC does not conduct training and does not have training centres. Although there might be a stage where the council will look at the possibility of a model training centre, its job is to set standards for trainers and operating standards for workers at different grades and assessors.
CW collates a list of suggestions that could help India overcome its dearth of skilled labour:
Government support is just not available to training providers despite all state governments collecting construction workers´ welfare cess, which remains grossly unutilised. We need a central plan to support this important initiative.
We need a regulation to insist on certification for employment.
Contract conditions being followed need to be standardised and contractual clauses equitable.
We need a singular nodal agency empowered by the government to administer construction activities in the country.
While the Central Government is doing well, state governments need to start taking initiatives.
We must propagate the new norms of QP/NOS and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) norms.
The Central and state ministries need to come together to aggregate demand that shall be created through initiatives such as Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat, Housing for All, Sagarmala, Bharatmala, AMRUT, HRIDAY, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, interlinking of rivers, and many more. This will help map the right skills to meet the right jobs.
To make the 100 smart cities a reality, we will have to skill construction labourers higher. At present, Sector Skill Councils focus on low-end skills, from levels 1 to 4.
For RPL, we need to have a scheme, which involves active participation of the contractors for making the workforce available for skilling and the worker himself for whom the wage loss should be covered.
For the construction sector, where the trainee cannot afford the charges of certification and lose his daily wages in the process, the money should be made available by the government.
Construction workers should receive a good pay package with all benefits to improve their status and promote dignity of labour.
If the status of the construction worker is enhanced, modern techniques are implemented and the syllabus is updated in a timely manner, the question of shortfall of skilled labour will not arise.
The onus on imparting skill training and engaging trained or certified workforce lies with the industry and must be enforced û such norms exist overseas.
We must set up community colleges for supervisory skills with good infrastructure.
Bodies like BAI, CREDAI, Plumber´s Association, Electrical Association, etc, must collaborate; for instance, The Master Builder Association of South Australia plays a great role in this regard.
SKILL ACT: Building a Workforce
Ajit, a school dropout, lived with his father (a farmer), aged mother and school-going sister in the interiors of Maharashtra. His life revolved around the four streets of his village in the company of his notorious friends. However, he was also worried about his aged parents. He then learnt about L&T´s training institute and its three-month training and employment opportunity for young boys. He also saw how this changed the life of his neighbour and friend Baskar. Ajit opted for the training û today, he is a respected individual in his village. Three months of training at L&T Construction Skills Training Institute (CSTI) and placement in one of Mumbai´s residential job sites with a decent monthly income has enabled him to support his family. He is now confident of providing them a secure future and ensuring progressive growth for himself.
An ounce of practice is worth more than tonnes of preaching û that´s L&T´s credo that has helped secure the future of many young people like Ajit across the country. Indeed, while the government´s Skill India campaign has been in focus for the last couple of years, training has been L&T´s focus for the last two decades! As SN Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director & President, Larsen & Toubro, says, ´We were able to look into the future as it were as it became increasingly evident that trades were not being passed along from one generation to another as was the case earlier: A mason´s son was no more very keen to become a mason, while a carpenter´s son was harbouring visions of a better occupation!´
To learn more about how lives are being transformed, CW recently visited L&T´s CSTI at Panvel, Maharashtra. Spread over 8 acre, there is a 2.75 acre practice yard and a building with eight classrooms featuring e-learning and laser tools, a display hall, a conference room, an instructor´s room, an admin room, the principal´s office and a hostel building of G + three floors and a dining hall that can accommodate 275 people. The infrastructure is created to facilitate for 72 trainees û about 24 per trade. The institute is affiliated with NSDC as a training partner with third-party assessment also available.
The institute focuses on skill creation as well as upgrades for five trades: Carpentry, bar bending, masonry, tiling and pipe welding. Tejrao Patil, Principal, L&T-CSTI, Panvel, shares, ´The main objective of the CSTI is to ensure safety, quality and productivity,´ adding that the trainees are provided uniform, safety shoes, helmets, tools, etc.
All courses are designed as short-term vocational ones from one to three months. ´The training also involves e-learning prior to practical performance, where the trainees watch videos and understand the dos and don´ts,´ Patil elaborates. Once the training is complete, there is immediate deployment at sites. While the same tests, curriculum and systems are followed across all L&T centres, the Central Department in Chennai monitors and coordinates everything including an annual audit, and at the same time ensuring adherence to the norms of Sector Skill standards.
There is career progression as well. The initial three-month training programme is followed by two years of experience, post which the candidate goes to level two which is semi-skilled. He becomes a skilled workman after four years of experience. Level two involves certification and a supervisory level. Everything is free - the training, accommodation, food, and safety shoes; one-way fare is reimbursed for travel from native place to the institute up to a maximum of Rs 500.
There are some set criteria for training: The candidate must be a fifth-standard pass; between 18 and 35 years of age; weighing a minimum of 45 kg and having a minimum height of 155 cm. For electrical, welding and plumbing, the prerequisite is ITI pass. Over 7,800 candidates have been trained at CSTI, Panvel. Seventy per cent of the trainees come from Maharashtra, while the remaining 30 per cent from various parts of India. Trainers come with an experience of eight to 10 years at L&T sites and undergo a training programme. Initial wages after the completion of training are around Rs 9,000 to Rs 10,000; for skilled level wages are around Rs 20,000, while for the semi-skilled they are around Rs 15,000-16,000. The salary is decided on the basis of productivity and quality.
L&T established CSTI with separate campuses in Kanchipuram (Chennai), Panvel (Mumbai), Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi and Cuttack for practical and classroom training. ´As the largest CSR activity and core to our business, L&T Construction trains rural unemployed youth in various trades for a period of 90 days for 600 hours, with focus on 80 practical and 20 classroom classes, and suitable placement after training at L&T sites,´ says VS Ramana, General Manager-CSR & Construction Skill Training, L&T. ´The objective has been to impart world-class construction knowledge and skills, train workforce so as to improve the availability of skilled workmen in related trades; incorporating safety, quality and productivity; training unemployed rural youth with construction employable skills; and improving construction supervision by training frontline supervisors and fresh diploma and degree holders. To meet international standards, L&T collaborated with Henry Boot Training and the Construction Industry Training Board of the UK at the inception stage to develop modular training. After 22 years of experience, we will now be taking this to a higher level. Soon, L&T will be entering into an MoU with SEMTA / EAL for global accreditation of its training centres and global certification of skilled workers in various trades which will make an Indian construction worker globally employable!´
At present, basic training is imparted in the trades of formwork carpentry; bar bending and steel fixing; masonry (brickwork and block work); plumbing and sanitary; electrical; scaffolding; general assistants; welding (pipe and structural welding); tiling; concrete laboratory and field testing; pre-stressing; transmission line tower erection; railway electrification; solar electricians and solar non-technical; and site-enabling service technicians (plant and machinery). The training methodology comprises preparation of skill standards; training curriculum; training; training the trainers; and trade testing.
A comprehensive approach to skilling the future!
CSTI´s achievements over the past 20 years