The industry should be incentivised to sponsor skill-based training programmes

The industry should be incentivised to sponsor skill-based training programmes

C B Tiwari, Chief People Officer, UltraTech Cement

The private sector can play an effective role in helping institutions build a curriculum that make the students employable and build skills in them that can be utilised on the job without much training. The industry and educational institutions can partner to build such programmes wherein working managers can impart education to the students and improve their employability, says CB Tiwari, Chief People Officer, UltraTech Cement Limited. Excerpts from the interview.

What is the extent of the skill shortage faced by the industry?
In the days to come, the industry will face a tremendous skill shortage as there are no employable graduates who can get on the job quickly. This is compelling industries to have intensive training programmes so that they become employable in the cement industry. Skill shortage is impacting the operations of the plants.

What has led to this situation?
The industry has failed to attract graduates from high-end colleges. The challenge first is of attracting skill and then retaining them. Cement is perceived as an unglamorous industry and students from high-end colleges do not aspire to make a career within the cement industry.

Skilled workers are moving to overseas countries, the Gulf countries in most cases. How can we stop the skill drain?
It is very difficult to match the aspirations of employees who want to go to overseas countries to earn tax- free dollars. However, we can look at improving the jobs of highly skilled people in India by providing them with accelerated growth and higher responsibility in India itself.

How are we dealing with the skill shortage now? Are we importing skilled workers from abroad?
At present, each industry is developing a skill-building programme specific to their needs. Industry is taking initiatives like technical mentoring, on- the- job training, etc, to bridge the gap between requirement and the supply.

There is no possibility of importing skilled workers from overseas. However, looking at the manner cement demand is likely to grow along with the GDP; we may have to invite people from overseas to execute largescale projects in the days to come.

China, with a scale of population and education system similar to India, has better labour productivity (indicating higher skills) than ours. What can we learn from China?
The role the unions play in productivity of the workmen is notable. It is only if our unions and management work on improving labour productivity jointly, that we can match the standards of China. To an extent, low productivity in India could also be attributed to the labour laws.

What can be done to address the skill shortage problem effectively?
One is that, we need to increase the partnership between industry and educational institutes. Secondly, we need to build a curriculum to make students more employable and thirdly, the industry should be incentivised to sponsor skill-based training programmes.

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