In this guest article, Munish Kumar, CEO & Director at Shapoorji Pallonji Consulting Services DMCC, Dubai presents his insights on skill development in the construction industry. He addresses some key issues emerging from the nature of this unorganized sector and offers practical advice for successful skilling across the construction skills pyramid. These include the need for closer involvement of the industry, the need for accelerating RPL and the training of supervisors in behavioural and change management skills.
Indian Government has stressed the importance of vocational education and is providing support by funding many skill based training centres/colleges. The youth are becoming aware of skill based training and placement in many industry sectors. Yet, there is a dearth of skilled people and corporates are not able to find the right match for their needs and requirements. Particularly in the construction sector, that is highly unorganized, there is huge disconnect betweeen the industry and the availability of skilled workforce. I will try to explain the above disconnect here. We have two interested parties here:
- The worker/youth – who wants to get a job and get paid to take care of his/her livelihood
- The corporates – who want to hire a worker who can be productive and will give them returns on the investment.
So, when we give the youth the training/certificate but don’t really enable them to be able to be productive when they join the workforce, we are not solving a problem. In addition, when a trained person is given a job in an organisation and is paid the same as an untrained person, we are not solving a problem.
This needs a much deeper involvement with the industry and a lot of time and investment from all interested parties. To make it effective, we must:
- Understand the need of the corporates and define the skills required to achieve the desired productivity
- Create assessments and training frameworks which are focussed on this need
- Identify willing workers and put them through a rigorous assessment to understand where they stand
- Divide skill development into offsite/ at training centre and on site/ at work. It’s important that a person/worker is launched carefully into the work environment. The journey has to be gradual and sufficient support systems need to be provided.
- Measure the impact of skilled workforce on productivity and check if the desired objectives were met
- Based on the above point, link the wages to the skill levels and make it a practice. This will help in standardizing the pay according to skill levels in the industry and attract the people.
Another aspect of training is the critical role played by Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in accelerating the pace of skill development with due respect for skills learnt on one’s own. Again, this is very relevant to construction industry since many workers learn construction skills in an informal way.
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