Skill development in the Mining Industry: A Skill Talk with Mr. Ravindra Singh, COO, Skill Council for Mining Sector (SCMS)


“The mining sector is critical to India’s economic and social well-being. As on today, mining and quarrying sector has a contribution of around 2.39 % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. The latest figure on Index of Industrial Production (IIP) shows 2.9 % growth of mining sector.” Source: DGMS website

At the Skill East 2019 Summit, we caught up with Mr. Ravindra Singh, COO, Skill Council for Mining Sector (SCMS) to know more about the skills required by the mining industry and initiatives undertaken by the Sector Skill Council. Let’s read on to know more about the challenges in capacity building and standardizing training.

What are some the key intervention in skilling the workforce in mining sector?

Skill Council for Mining Sector (SCMS) has its role clearly demarcated for building capacity in the mining industry. SCMS is promoted by Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) and supported by the Ministry of Mines. SCMS has been actively contributing to Skill India mission by facilitating a sound ecosystem to train and meet the requirements of skilled workforce in the mining sector.

Skill development in the mining industry has always been structured since Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India) looks after the national training. We’ve partnered with them to upgrade training to Mines Vocational Training Rules (MVTR) 2018 and new vocational training guidelines have been set up. So, vocational education and training is mandatory in mining. It is not just for the mining trades but more importantly, safety training that demands great attention.

The training programs were always structured, for example, it would be 12-day training program for working on the surface for open cast mining,  for underground operations, it would be 48 days training and so on. However, the challenge was that it did not lead to certification. It’s only  now that these courses are getting aligned with NSQF. We are also creating awareness about NSQF among the industry and the curriculum is getting updated as per industry requirements.

The most precious thing to come out of the mine is the miner (this is also the motto of SCMS). Mining is a highly regulated and controlled activity since it involves natural resources that are precious and limited and the mining methods have to follow high safety standards.

Tell us about the core areas in which skill based training is offered and how does it match the industry requirements?

Ravindra Singh COO Mining Sector Skill CouncilToday, training is offered in 49 job roles; other job roles that are high capacity but need limited machines are also getting into focus. There are four sub-sectors in mining. This includes:

  1. Exploration and resource management
  2. Extraction and mining operations
  3. Support services – engineering and electrical and
  4. Beneficiation (the process when the ore is enriched before sending for production and metal extraction)

Mining operations account for employing 89.3% of the workforce and 8.7% workforce in engineering and support services and only 2% is in exploration and beneficiation. Our focus is on these two segments, where the bulk of our training has to be delivered and there are tremendous job opportunities. The mining trades are difficult and they have geographical challenges. Nevertheless, the income potential is high for qualified and skilled people.

How are the sector-specific challenges being addressed through skilling?

Unlike other sectors, where you can set up the industry wherever you want, in mining you have to go to the source, invariably remote locations, so getting people is a challenge, however we do get people interested in mining and train them, a significant proportion of people should be physically fit otherwise you can’t work, though you work with machines,  like they need to stand on the vibrating equipment for 7 to 8 hours, -so fitness is very important.

The existing QP NOS have completed the first cycle of three years, we are in the phase of updating them,  integrating Mines Vocational Training (MVTR) , safety training and align them with latest technologies since the complexity of the tools has increased over the years

Skill development in the mining sector : The road ahead

We are about to start the next phase of skill gap study. Earlier it was under National industry classification 2018, now we are broad basing the study, looking at ancillary and support activities, for one person working in the mine, there would be 10 supporting him, on the periphery.

Mining industry has a considerable presence of unorganized sector, where the size of the mine is very small, there are a large number of mines with 0.5 hectares, mines below the size of 5 hectares will account for 93% and only 7% are large mines. Small mine activities are not very structured, we are trying to understand their needs and help them get organized.

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