The construction industry is in the grip of a talent crunch. With growing scale and increased number of projects, the requisite skill-sets are in short supply. But it is encouraging that some industry players are taking active steps to manage this shortfall.
The reasons for the shortfall are many. The primary reason being the mismatch between the requirements of the industry and the learning in engineering and business schools.
Construction and infrastructure sectors have seen much technological and process advancements. But only about 1-2 engineers out of every 10 seeking work are employable, according to human resource managers in construction companies. This is because the relevant knowledge base is missing in many cases, and when that is available, the site exposure is found lacking.
That, essentially is the crux of the problem. Engineering students are required to spend a certain number of weeks at the site to gain work experience. But more often than not they manage to get an experience certificate without even visiting the site. Such problems can be fixed if an effort is made.
The NSDC will finance the initiative and the new organisation, with a base capital of Rs 100 crore floated by CREDAI, Pune, will target the apprentice site workers whose skills can be upgraded by expert trainers. The NSDC and the project owner will share the productivity and materials costs incurred during the training, which could result in a large skills bank.
If successful over the year, CREDAI chapters in Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata too may embrace the model immediately. The Builders Association of India (BAI), which had piloted a move towards workers’ skill upgrade way back in the 1990s, in Andhra Pradesh, too will partner with NSDC without financial obligation in the Pune pilot project.
Unlike the NSDC experiment that focuses only on the bottom of the construction workers pyramid, the CIDC initiative intends to tackle the problem of skill shortage across the spectrum.
Its country-wide national proficiency evaluation test targets young engineering graduates, diploma holders as well as supervisors and construction workers. It also covers those with a post graduate degree in management and architecture.
This allows potential employers to map candidate skills to their requirements and recruit the right candidates. The CIDC also offers training at various levels for industry entrants and working professionals to acquire required skills to grow into a supervisor, project officer or project manager.
The experiment was introduced first at the Veltech University in Chennai where 70 students were imparted an intensive 11-day training on every aspect of the construction site, including scheduling, monitoring and quantities assessment. The interaction with site workers made them better employable on the site.
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