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Cover Story - The Industry View
V.M. Kaul: The problem is that most of the work going on is being executed through contractors. We don’t manufacture our own towers but outsource them. While we do a lot of induction and training, we find that there is a big skill gap with our contractors. But these contractors are not keeping pace and do not have many skilled labour to effectively manage operations. So the gap is prevalent from that front. Quality of work depends upon the skills of the person who is actually working on the ground. The sub-contractors are sometimes very small entities and have a common set-up for training and they give work to a certain gang of workers. Hense the initiatives we have undertaken. Firstly, we are impressing upon our contractors to recruit and train more people through a common training program so that there are more skilled people on the ground. This is beneficial to the contractors as well as to their sub-contractors. Some of the big contractors have also set-up their own training centres. But their training can take limited number of people. One area of getting extra skilled labour is through the ITIs. But most of them are ramshackle and outdated.
There is a National Power Training Institute operating under the Ministry of Power which is doing a lot of work in the training and development of skills in the power sector. But their numbers are very small as they are generating 150-200 people.
S.Y. Siddiqui: One issue is of sheer quantity of supply and the second issue is the quality of supply. When we look at roughly 1850 ITIs in India, I think their capability to produce technically trained manpower is very low. There are only a few ITIs out of these 1,850 across the country whose people would be getting any sort of technical assignment. That’s one problem. The second problem is that, for many years, if you see, any such input in creating the infrastructure to improve the supply has not happened at all.
The pressure pertaining to high demand of skilled labour is both within the country as well as outside the country. Many companies who have gone in for overseas acquisitions are exporting skilled labour from India to these overseas destinations. This scenario is specifically true for the infrastructure and realty sectors where skilled labour from India is sent overseas to work on development projects and then brought back once the project is over. And this happens not only for private companies but public sector companies as well. Due to these reasons, the pressure on the talent supply in skilled manpower is rising. Supply sources, per se, haven’t done much to meet this pressure.
Rajiv Makin: The two main concerns regarding skilled labour in the hospitality industry are firstly, the availability of skilled labour and secondly, the quality of skilled labour. In the last two decades, a number of educational as well as vocational institutions have opened up; there are hundreds of colleges now operating especially in the hospitality sector. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that every city in the country now has at least one institute imparting training in hospitality. So quantity is not the major problem but quality. In the 1960s, there were only four hospitality colleges churning out just 200 students. Today, there may be 2 lakh students. But the availability of right kind of skilled manpower is still a major concern.
PPP, Corporate Responsibility and Solutions
S.Y. Siddiqui: One effort to minimize this pressure is for the government to set up 1500 more ITIs, which will be developed on a PPP model and will be very different from the ones that are already existing and will be based on the principle of ‘centre of excellence’. These ITIs should be equipped to deliver high capabilities, high quality and high quantity as well. And through this PPP model, the government is also looking at putting up the current ITIs for adoption. So, for example, Maruti has adopted four such ITIs – two have been directly adopted by us in Gurgaon and Rohtak from the Haryana Government and two by our joint venture partners.
V.M. Kaul: Power Grid has adopted four ITIs and we manage these institutes professionally. We made improvement to the course curriculum, the faculty, infrastructure, tools and equipment. There is another initiative that we are undertaking as a part of our corporate social responsibility. We are also ready to sponsor candidates and give them some form of stipend. We also get skilled people from training institutes and the training centres of our contractors and provide them enhanced skills training at Power Grid. And these trained people are employable not only at Power Grid but in the overall power sector. Through this initiative, we have a target of training 1,000 people from our leading contractors to make sure that we have a pool of another 5,000-6,000 skilled people.
Rajiv Makin: The Ministry of Tourism has taken initiatives and is training all those who form a part of the hospitality ecosystem. Training is being imparted in terms of behavioural capabilities, English language learning, et al. And the up-coming Commonwealth Games are adding to the pace with which new labour is being added to the existing workforce and the quality of training that is being imparted. But the efforts, of course, will be for the long term.
Corporates have already started their own training institutes or have tied up with existing institutes where they not only provide hospitality capabilities but also recruit labour from there. Be it us, or ITC or Taj, everybody is conducting their own training. Other than that, we also conduct skill development programs where we enhance the skills of people which they already possess like for example, a dhaba-owner must be a very good cook, but is he trained enough to become the chef of a restaurant? So we work towards building such capabilities.
Director Personnel, POWERGRID
Director (Commercial & Marketing), ITDC
Managing Executive Officer - Admin, (HR, Finance & IT) - Maruti Suzuki
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