India’s handicrafts and carpets sector is one of the vast and versatile sectors of the country. Apart from being a part of our glorious legacy, the sector also has a huge potential for employment generation and entrepreneurship. There is no dearth of talent in this sector; it just needs to be harnessed with the right skills and knowledge. And Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council (HCSSC) is promoting skill development in the sector to encourage youth and to provide them with the right platform to showcase their talent which will make them employable.
To get an insight into the handicraft and carpet industry and to know more about the skill development initiatives, the employment opportunities in the sector, we interacted with Mr. Arshad Mir, Chairman, Handicrafts and Carpet Sector Skill Council (HCSSC).
Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel.
Q. What is the role of skilling and education in preserving the rich tradition, reviving dying or vanishing crafts?
A: Handicrafts and carpets are an integral part of our country’s rich heritage and it has been the main source of economy in Jammu and Kashmir since the pre-Independence era. Some of the major crafts in Jammu and Kashmir are kashmiri silk, woollen carpets, pashmina shawls, basohli paintings from Jammu.
The major reason behind the vanishing crafts is the existing skill gap among artisans and weavers. To identify various dying crafts, we also conduct in-house skill gap studies by visiting the clusters and meeting industry stakeholders. In order to preserve and revive the rich tradition, HCSSC has developed new Qualification Packs (QPs) in consultation with industries to ensure that the skill development training and upskilling can happen in accordance with their needs.
Q. How do we address the challenge of skilling the youth in this sector and showing a path toward self-employment and creating jobs for artisans?
A: HCSSC has developed 129 QPs which are aligned with prominent crafts of different clusters. These QPs have components of entrepreneurship, employability and digital literacy. To attract the youth and to create awareness, we organize various physical and virtual workshops. This sector is export-oriented and has the opportunity to be self-reliant.
We are also in the process of developing new QPs on the crafts as per the demands of the industry and all the job roles under these are going to be industry-aligned. Hence, HCSSC also proposes to encourage the industry partners of the handicraft and carpet sector to organize skill development training programs in their premises. This initiative can facilitate immediate placement to the trained candidates in the industry.
Q. How is HCSSC creating awareness about various markets among the artisans and supporting them to access these?
A: India is clearly leading in the international handmade carpet market in terms of value and quality with the commanding share in global exports for its subtle elegance, eco-friendliness and vibrant colour craftsmanship with a human touch. India is exporting 90% of its total carpet production to more than 70 countries in the world. As the Indian handmade carpet industry is highly labour intensive, it provides employability to four lakh workers especially women artisans and weaker sections in rural areas and also provides extra and alternate occupations to them.
On the other hand, the small-scale cottage sector helps to solve the social and economic problems of the artisans by providing employment to seven million artisans which include women and people from weaker sections of the society.
The artisan and weavers are invited twice a year to participate in international and national fairs organised by the export promotion council for handicrafts and carpet export promotion council. In addition to their high potential for employment, the sector is economically important for value addition, exports and foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Q. Though this sector is largely unorganized, how do we drive the importance of upskilling the existing artisans, helping them with the latest technologies through training of trainers and master craftsperson?
A: To empower the existing artisans and weavers in the clusters, we impart innovative design techniques for upskilling the artisans. This enables artisans and weavers to compete in the international market and meet the national and international demand in terms of design and technology.
HCSSC also focuses on improving access to technology, providing skill upgradation including backward and forward linkages. It provides support to handicrafts and carpet industry, artisans and entrepreneurs for concept creation, product and process design, innovation and technological consultation.
Considering the handicrafts and carpet industry in India as unorganized and informal in nature, the only way to improve employment is through support and by promoting its export industries and empowering artisan clusters simultaneously. By promoting and expanding its cultural crafts, the demand for Indian handicrafts and carpets will increase.
HCSSC is also in the process of setting up one Centre of Excellence (CoE) in each state aiming to address the constraints of the sector and bring innovation to the product design. The CoE acts as the facilitation for the artisans by providing information on market demands, promoting entrepreneurship and empowering information regarding the latest schemes and subsidiaries by the government for their development.
Q. How can we empower the handicraft clusters? How do you ensure that technology gets integrated with skilling?
A: Skilling and upskilling programme in handicrafts and carpet sector pertain to practical training. As there are artisans and weavers from rural areas, it has become a challenge to create e-content or digital learning. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the HCSSC has signed an MoU with Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) centre for the development of learning content and digitalization for the job role developed by the council. SSC’s QPs also involve the fusion of different materials like bamboo, bottle makers which involve both bamboo and metal in the same product category. With the enhancement in skill development, industry, government and non-government institutions should enhance the learning and earning capacity for the weavers across all the sectors in India.
Q. How can we attract children at the school level and show them a path towards a degree like B.Voc in handicrafts?
A: As per the NEP 2020, our focus has been on the integration of skill development and vocational education with school education. So, HCSSC has joined hands with CBSE to add handicrafts as vocational education in the middle schools and primary schools’ level to integrate arts and culture with education. This addition will enhance the creative skills of the students and provide them with the much-required knowledge about India’s cultural heritage. As the first step, job roles such as Paper Machine and Paper Jewellery have been adopted by more than 700 schools for school education.
We have also collaborated with Madhya Pradesh State Open School for aligning the job roles in the schools of 53 districts of Madhya Pradesh. Along with the school level, we also have job roles in higher vocational education which are offered in Pandit Sundarlal Sharma Central Institute of Vocational Education (PSSCIVE) under the Ministry of education, Government of India.
Also read: How HCSSC is nurturing talent in the Handicrafts and Carpet sector https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/how-hcssc-is-nurturing-talent-in-the-handicrafts-and-carpet-sector/
Our skill development initiatives to integrate skills and vocational education with school education will increase the students’ creativity and will help them get familiar with our rich Indian heritage. These initiatives will eventually drive them towards employability and entrepreneurship.