Bridging the Skills Gap
RAILWAYS & METRO RAIL

Bridging the Skills Gap

A metro can only be as efficient as the people in charge. CW identifies training opportunities. 

Skill gaps are experienced at various stages of a metro-rail project.

At the project planning stage, there is a lack of skills to conduct geotechnical investigations and feasibility studies, and design rail bridges, says Suresh Muchipalli, Head of Human Resources, Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation. “Signalling design skills are also in short supply.” Coming to construction, large-scale project development and delivery experience is missing, he points out. Further, he adds that track design, geometric, alignment and maintenance skills are absent.

Day-to-day signal maintenance and rail transport safety (with standards) are areas where a paucity of skills is most felt.

A metro can only be as efficient as the people in charge. CW identifies training opportunities. Skill gaps are experienced at various stages of a metro-rail project.At the project planning stage, there is a lack of skills to conduct geotechnical investigations and feasibility studies, and design rail bridges, says Suresh Muchipalli, Head of Human Resources, Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation. “Signalling design skills are also in short supply.” Coming to construction, large-scale project development and delivery experience is missing, he points out. Further, he adds that track design, geometric, alignment and maintenance skills are absent.Day-to-day signal maintenance and rail transport safety (with standards) are areas where a paucity of skills is most felt. Also, skills to cut operating and maintenance costs are noticeably missing. To develop these, Muchipalli proposes that the Government establishes a centralised institute with teaching amenities. He also advocates private-sector participation as a stakeholder instead of a business partner of the metro-rail industry. “It would greatly help if schools and colleges develop a course curriculum to meet the industry requirements as opposed to how courses are traditionally designed.” Metro heads on skillsMost manufacturing of hardware related to communications-based train control (CBTC) signalling systems happens outside India; so, the software associated with these systems is developed, verified, validated and lab-tested offshore. The gaps will be filled gradually with the passage of time and transfer of technologies, says Dr Brijesh Dixit, Managing Director, Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation. Looking at the current progress of the CBTC system in India, Dr Dixit expects that vendors will start to develop, verify, validate and laboratory-test software in India in a few years. After sufficient people are trained in the implementation, operation and maintenance aspects of these technologies, he believes the development and manufacturing aspects of the technology will be similarly mastered.“Many new recruits join metro-rail corporations after sitting for written examinations soon after completing their engineering courses. With no prior work experience, they lack professional and business communication skills,” observes Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation. “At the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation, professional and business communication and soft skills training is mandatory for new recruits, delivered through the Centre of Excellence for Training. “New recruits go through rigorous training, including practical system and on-the-job training. Experts deliver fire-fighting and first-aid skills. Frontline staff is sensitised about the needs of passengers with disabilities.” The deployment of advanced technologies by employers helps people become technically sound and develop the experience to cope with technical glitches, he adds. For instance, the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation has used double-T girders in the station area of metros to save construction time and cause minimal traffic disruption. Industry perspectiveThe effective usage of platforms is another skill gap, according to Girish Dharachar, Director – Sales for Honeywell Building Technologies. “A user-friendly, connected approach helps reduce human errors and work more efficiently by getting analytical outputs on time, thereby reducing manual efforts and saving time.”The challenge is not only seen in the availability of skilled workers but also in attracting desirable employees and retaining them, and in training more workers, he adds. “What can help is the use of products and solutions designed to be easier to install, commission and maintain, such as Honeywell’s solutions. We can help technicians quickly identify faults/failures and resolve them. Additionally, our solutions enable centralised control, enabling the central operations team to plan and deploy the right resources at the right time and resolve multiple issues centrally.”- CHARU BAHRIPPPs for skillingIn 2020, Alstom became the first company to collaborate with the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation to provide a training centre in SriCity under the state’s SKILL AP initiative, shares Alain Spohr, Managing Director, Alstom India. “Over 220 young diploma holders were trained with industry-relevant skills that prepare them for engineering workplaces; over 150 have been absorbed by Alstom.” Alstom has also curated the Young Engineering Graduate Programme for budding engineering aspirants, through which over 150 fresh engineering graduates (more than half being women engineers) are hired from across the country every year. Their skills are honed with the aim of preparing them to contribute to the transformation of India into a global engineering hub. 

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