Unskilled labour is often cited as the major cause of accidents on site. But it may soon be a thing of the past with the formation of a new Construction Skills Development Council, observes SHUBHANGI BIDWE.
The Indian construction industry, aided by the promised $1 trillion investment in infrastructure, is likely to grow at the rate of over 16 per cent per annum by the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan. However, the existing institutional framework for skill formation in the industry is inadequate. Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) impart training in 43 engineering and 24 non-engineering sectors. This training is oriented to the manufacturing and service sectors with the courses limited to one to two year's duration and admissions restricted to high school pass-outs. Very few construction workers have high school level education to qualify for admission or resources to maintain them over the long training period.
Need for training
"Although India as an economy has evolved from the 19th to 21st century, the infrastructure and the construction segment, despite being the largest employer in the country, is still unorganised," says KK Mohanty, Managing Director, Gammon Infrastructure Projects.
"Over the years, the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) was formed to address the issues of skill development," reveals S Natarajan, General Manager & Head-Construction Skills Training, Larsen and Toubro. "But it did not address the skill development requirements completely and skill gaps increased in the past five years," asserts Mohanty. "Productivity in this sector is slowly diminishing owing to low labour quality. Corruption, minimum labour charges and other statutory liabilities such as PF, ESI, etc, are major hindrances in the industry's growth. This necessitates the development of a skilled workforce in the industry."
Formation of the council
All these factors led to the formation of the Construction Skills Development Council (CSDC) recently. It will encompass entrants from the Construction Federation of India, CREDAI, BAI, and the National Highway Builders' Association, besides leading industry representatives, and government applicants. Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Construction Company, who heads the 20-member skill council, is led to say, "The construction sector needs to build capacity and it is important to train and up skill manpower. CSDC will bring together all the stakeholders in the construction industry to achieve the common goal of creating a skilled workforce for the sector."
CSDC will work jointly with large private companies and institutions to devise industry-based curriculum, set training standards, offer good quality vocational training, and provide industry-endorsed certification. It will help create a skill development plan, while setting up sector specific competency standards for the 100 trades identified for the sector. The Council plans to certify around 1.14 crore trainees and train 1.98 lakh trainers over a 10 year period. National Skill Development Council and private players will provide funds to the sector skill council in its initial stages. Functioning as an autonomous body, CSDC will have a CEO and other staff. "Currently in the formative stage, the CSDC will boost industry growth through the participation of industry heads," avers Natarajan.
We welcome the move.
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