The Indian textile industry needs to evolve and take huge steps as far as providing the training to their workforce is concerned, feels Avinash Mayekar.
Why are skills required? It will be better if skills were completely absent as then everyone of us would be at par. There will finally be an equality among all in the world. Seems interesting isn’t it? But a wider look to it – without skills, can our daily task alone be completed, forget about the global operations and innovations. A simple job of moving without pain is not possible. Without skills, there will be no proper shoes; without which there will be no comfort to our feet.
Skill is a much needed, yet a rare quality seen in the working individuals today. It is a set of skills that help sectors to grow and expand its business across boundaries. In the technologically advanced world, the need for such skilled labours has increased manifold. On one hand, the technology advances are touching the sky and replacing the need for human intervention, but on the other side, it is also increasing the need to have skilled workforce or more precisely multi skilled labour. In India, skilled workforce is at a dismal 2 per cent, lower than developing nations as per Economic Survey 2014-15.
I feel, the most labour-intensive sector “textile” is a classic example of how skill plays a vital role behind running of the units. Textile is a design, an art, a chemistry and above all it’s more of innovative skills we need to bring yarns together either to knit or weave variety of fabrics, and come out with fancy colours and different patterns. In textile, there are different types of operations, so each and every operator is required to have certain levels of skill set. The most challenging role is of machine operators demanding high level of skill set. Though there are such high demands on skill levels yet if we see at India’s textile condition at actuals, the main issue is that most of the operators lack the education and training necessary for the job. This scenario exists because most of the workforce is hired as per availability. So naturally the basic skill sets are absent in them. Due to lack of experience, these workers prefer such job only because they need that job on that particular day and it provides them daily wages to fulfill their daily requirement. Such workforce is usually kept as a substitute worker. So basically a worker learns all the necessary skills slowly and silently during his job role on its own.
However, in case of textiles, there are many machines – right from ginning, spinning, weaving, knit processing, woven processing to garmenting. A single process of say spinning or weaving has a number of machinery with different operating parameters and technology thus naturally they demand for different skills for the same process as per machinery installed. Moreover the recent advances of smart devices have upgraded the machinery further providing touchscreen displays indicating the warning and signals on one dashboard making operations simple for an educated and skilled labour, but it can be a rocket science for someone who is used to operate machinery-based on size and colour of the buttons. Such issues arise as these workers are not even having qualification of matriculation, making it difficult for them to read and understand the English language on display unit, this problem is however being addressed by machinery suppliers by making user-friendly machines displaying warnings and signals in terms of colours and symbols than alone text messages.
But the major issue still is that these operators can work efficiently on one type of machine after having worked on it for ages but a change in type or different make of machines again needs ample amount of quality time to be spent to help them cope with new advances. As these workers are acquiring their skills on the job it really becomes difficult to get skilled labours capable of operating on any time of machine pertaining to the particular process left alone skilled labour for textile plant.
If we analyse the education pattern followed in India, especially the courses like ITI, we will see that all such courses focus on providing basic knowledge and skills sets like carpentry, mechanical, electrical, electronic workshop. There is a great gap between the industry needs and training offered in such courses. The training courses completely lack the knowledge on advances that have taken place over the years, the courses are not just version behind the actual advances but are decades behind thereby making such courses loose its effectiveness for the industry. Focusing on textile such courses do not provide the knowledge or skills needed for the new machinery that are currently operational. If we graph the technological advancement and training provided in India we will observe that we are currently on two different globes. Any advances in electrical, mechanical or electronics are immediately mapped into textile machinery for betterment. So day by day our machinery are becoming smarter but the people operating them are remaining dumber.
In textile sector, there is no proper training programme that is being followed to educate and brush the skills of workforce. Usually there is one senior person who trains the workforce, his level of training obviously depends on his experience of operating that machine from previous company on which he trains the workforce. Or the second common process involves bulk training provided by machinery suppliers as a complete package during the installation & erection of the particular machine focusing mainly on maintenance whereas training focusing on production is completely missing.
The global scenario is however slightly different, if we observe the training given especially in developed countries we will notice that there is a methodological process that is being followed. Before installation of any new machinery, few staff members are sent to the plant from where the machinery is being supplied may be Europe or other developed country like Japan wherein they are given training to understand the principal behind the machine, how the technology is evolved, salient features of the machine, procedure for break down and maintenance along with trouble shooting process.
Now with Ethernet the need to visit the actual plant can be avoided as the machine itself is connected to most of the machinery supplier’s workshop and they can guide on its operations through it . but still the training from operation and production point of view mainly for maintaining the quality of product is lacking.
The skill sets for operating the machinery for n level & batches of production is one important part of textile industry which though is developed on job by individuals is still something in which we are surviving despite having a slow pace but the other side of skill sets, skills that help decide the operating parameters that is demanded by customers are completely lacking. The variations in different parameters to meet the production level and quality scale as per different types of customer demands is a more tedious job. There are very few textile mill operators who are aware of what they must do and what must not be done. There is absence of “to do’s” & “not to do’s” list that can guide them properly.
In order to address this issue of providing training to workforce, Suvin Advisors has tied up with Werner International – A USA based organisation, having experience of 78 years and presence in around 75 countries. They provide shop floor training which includes guiding, helping and teaching the process of operation. The principal on which they work is that a person on coming to duty is not allotted a single machine to operate but is given a set of task that he must fulfill in his eight hours of duty. They teach him how to do time motion study, how to take care of maintenance. All this training is given them on shop floor at actual conditions during production period thereby helping them to understand their task easily during actual conditions thereby making them owner for the operation of machine. This further helps in saving on manpower requirement of textile mills as observed in all textile mills where Werner has given training till date.
The Indian textile industry needs to evolve and take huge steps as far as providing the training to their workforce is concerned. The methodology has to be changed, it must focus on providing actual training during production peek time rather than demo sessions on demo machinery. They need to train the people on technology advances and involve technology providers for better understanding. The best option will be to have trainers who are assigned the only job of getting trained on technology advances and then providing this training to the workforce as and when new workforce joins the organisation. As we are aware that every year the manpower is getting replaced around 20 to 25 per cent of them so a trainer will ensure the knowledge flow in organisation even if the entire operation staff changes.
The government has addressed this key issue of lack or gap in training of the workforce and has launched subsidy and initiative like National Skill Development Mission to envisage India as world’s human resource capital. The National Skill Development Mission has a mandate to train 300 million Indians by 2022.
We all know that India is having a huge advantage of manpower and is also being promoted to contain skilled labours. The part of skilled labour though a questionable asset today is however true in broader sense because of the quality and talents that people possess. The Indian labours for years are capable to easily adopt and flourish in any situation when provided the right training. So India is having labour that is capable of learning and adapting to the technologies, provided necessary training is given to them thus converting the labours into skilled labours. Time has come for the Indian textile industry to take services of good trainers who are actually subject matter experts to train their manpower by which they can reduce their operating cost & increase profitability with overall upliftment of their plant.
The article is authored by Avinash Mayekar, MD & CEO, Suvin Advisors Pvt. Ltd.