It has been projected that by 2012 an additional 12 million jobs could be created, of which 5 million will be in the core technological areas of production activities in the textiles and apparel industry and the remaining 7 million in supporting and auxiliary services. With such projections, it would be suicidal for the industry to ignore skill development, more so as there has been an acute shortage of workers in the last one year.
In fact, one of the most proactive initiatives that the Government took in 2010 that will have long-term positive impact on the industry was to declare the Integrated Skill Development Scheme for the Textile & Apparel Sector. Through the scheme, the Ministry of Textiles aims to provide necessary skills to 26.75 lakhs persons in the next 5 years (2010-11 to 2014-15) of the XI and XII Five-year-Plans period for employment in the textile sector. In the meanwhile, the National Skill Development Policy’s sectoral target is to train 100 lakhs persons by 2022 in the textile sector.
The biggest buzz word in the industry today is ‘Skill Development’ with both the industry and the Government talking in the same language on the importance of creating fresh manpower, training and retraining workers, as also focusing on continuing education to update professionals. No doubt, the future growth of the industry depends on skilled workers at all levels and 2010 saw a firm commitment to tackle the issue head-on.
The initiative implemented on 2nd October 2010, covers basic training, skill upgradation, advanced training in emerging technologies, training of trainers, retraining and managerial skill, all based on industry requirements. Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) have been identified as the nodal agency for implementation of the scheme and Apparel Training & Design Centre (ATDC) has been nominated as a Nodal Agency under component-I which envisages skill development by augmenting and strengthening the capacity of institutions and schemes under Ministry of Textiles. Through this component, the target would be to train an estimated additional 11.25 lakh persons in various skill sets covering all segments under the ambit of the Ministry of Textiles over a period of 5 years.
To live up to the task, the ATDC has launched the SMART (Skills for Manufacturing Apparels through Research and Training) initiative with a total outlay of Rs. 2,300 crores and an ambitious target of training about 2.56 lakh workforce in the next 2 years.
Hari Kapoor, MD, Allied Industries has been entrusted with the responsibility of Convenor, Core Committee, SMART Project and ATDC BOG. The SMART Training Program targets rural and semi-rural unskilled population, school dropouts, below poverty line youths and unprivileged and disadvantaged women. The SMART courses are specially being designed to bridge the gap between industry requirements and skills of the future workforce.
Under the Integrated Skill Development Scheme, the Government will meet 75% of the total cost of the project, and balance 25% would be met from Fee/Industry Contribution. However, in courses/programmes under Component – I, wherever it is not feasible to organize the beneficiary contribution, the Empowered Committee is authorized to approve a higher level of Government assistance. Indeed this will be a major thrust to manpower development.
Skill development is not only about creating manpower it is also about retaining and engaging of employees, which is touted as the next big thing in manufacturing and all the stakeholders are making concerted effort to train and re-train their workers. In this initiative there are two types of interventions.: firstly, improving factory performance (with wide variety of deliverables from quality/productivity to lean) through engagement of professional consultants; and secondly, training of shopfloor workers (primarily sewing operators) through Government-initiated development programs.
Even before the thrust by the Government, many companies have started training manpower from rural areas. Some of the major skill development projects are being undertaken by the IL&FS in the garment industry. As of 31st March 2010, 45,015 persons (rural BPL youth) have been trained by IL&FS over a period of 2½ years. The goal is to train 1,25,000 persons over the next three years. Some of the exporters working with IL&FS are Shahi Exports, Bombay Rayon Fashion Ltd., Texport Garments, Scotts Garments, Arvind Mills (Karnataka), Orient Craft and Pink City Apparels (Rajasthan), Intimate Fashions, Bannari Amman Apparel Mas Linea Fashions India, SP Apparels (Tamil Nadu) and Lakhani India and Super House (Kanpur).
In-house skill development activities are also on the rise as exporters invest in training and retraining of workers with or without the support/guidance of consultants. Going forward it will only get bigger as even smaller exporters take the training route. Consultancy firms like Technopak and Wazir Advisors are undertaking skill development programmes aimed mostly at the middle level professionals, AEPC sponsored Institute of Apparel Management (IAM) too is running continuing education programmes, while Buying Office Triburg has instituted Triburg Center for Learning with its flagship program – ‘The Smart Merchant Program’, a unique cutting-edge education initiative for young apparel export professionals. The curriculum is led by leading professionals and current practitioners who ensure that the course is totally relevant to today’s needs of the apparel export industry.