Agenda for action

Agenda for action

As the
team was sifting through some of the available statistics on the skill shortage in the cement industry, we were reminded of the famous lines from 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' penned by ST Coleridge:

Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

The irony is inescapable. In a country with a population of a billion plus, the collective or systemic failure to bridge the knowledge gap is rather alarming. As per the statistics given by the working group on the cement industry for the 12th Five-Year-Plan (2012-2017), the industry requires a total of 43,000 skilled, technical workers for about 108 million tonnes of greenfield expansion; manpower of 17,000 for about 42 million tonnes of brownfield expansion and 6,000 for a 3,000 MW captive power plant operation; this means a total of about 66,000 additional technical people, including 23,000 engineers and supervisors, are required to attain targeted capacity additions. And the targeted additional capacity requirement for the next 15 years, up to 2027, is estimated to be approximately 1,035 million tonnes!

What is more ironic is that the country has just one institute, the NCBM that provides advanced training of the sort urgently required.

The industry is facing a skill shortage on two fronts - the number of people required and the quality of manpower available. So what is the action plan?

We need to:

  • Create at least another dozen more of NCBMs.
  • To start degree/post graduate degree level programmes at universities/ other institutional level dedicated to cement manufacturing technology.
  • To strengthen the interface between the industry/academy/plant and machinery and auxiliary equipment OEMs.
  • To incentivise the training programmes for cement manufacturers.
  • To incentivise R&D programmes as the R&D spend in India, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is around 0.8 per cent, one of the lowest when compared to most developed countries, which spend between 1.23 to 3 per cent of their GDP on research and development.
  • To strengthen the facilities and curriculum at the 8,400 and more existing ITIs.

We need to seriously look at the pull from other fields too, especially from Information Technology (IT). What is the point of complaining that the IT sector offers a fast-tracked career while the cement sector offers experience based growth? Can we act upon above and stem the tide?

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