Construction and skills have been rooted right since the time civilization came into existence. From Caves to Mud Huts, Megalithic Stones to Mega Highways and Skyscrapers – the evolution of construction reflects mankind’s unrelenting and unending quest and ever-growing mastery of raw materials and technology. The abundance of heritage structures in India not only evidences ‘abundance and mastery of skills’ but is unique in many ways. It is unique because of following facts –
- The presence of these heritage structures continues to harvest more inquisitiveness and the quest for new materials, and technology.
- These heritage structures stand strong and durable through hundreds and thousands of centuries as a testimony to the skills, materials, and technology.
- As descendants of the civilization, the writing on the wall distinctly conveys a belief embedded strongly in the DNA of the citizens born in this country – Arise and awaken that the potential lies untapped in every ‘Vishwakarma’, the potential to learn, demonstrate such skills that our forefathers challenge even today to vide these heritage structures.
Construction’s history is complex, huge and expansive and it is impossible to do justice through this small article. Vishwakarma’s, Architects and Engineers as they might be called by different names, have been involved in everything we see, we touch or rely upon. The most significant liability compared to other professions is that the works are out in open where all can see them and if the works do not work then we are dammed. There is no other option but to be ‘First Time Right’.
Complexity and complications are the present-day attributes of the construction industry. While complications can be addressed by knowledge and skills, complexity is more a creation of mankind and is more internal to the organization and industry.
Vital steps if implemented with enhanced participation from all the industry players and supported by the facilitative policies and regulations, will catapult the construction industry to the advanced league are –
- The scale and speed of this skill development activity have to increase exponentially to get the dividends from the demographic advantage position that we are in today. Also, we are aware that effective and efficient skills are subject to exposure and practice and therefore take time to build. Remember that effectiveness and efficiency at the last mile are the effectiveness and efficiency at the project, organization level, and industry at large.
- ‘Collective and Collaborative Workmanship’ is essential to enhance degree of effectiveness and efficiency of ‘Skill’ delivered.
- Visibility and awareness of the opportunities available on skill development to the last mile aptly supported by counseling and career guidance tools are taken up aggressively.
Despite these odds, today India’s Construction Industry
- Was valued at INR 3 Trillion by the end of March 2022
- Planned Investment will surpass INR 100 Trillion by 2025
- 2nd Largest Road Network
- 3rd Largest in Aviation
- 4th Largest in Rail Network
- 19th in Shipping Network………etc.
Foundation of Construction Skill Development Council of India (CSDCI)
Construction Skill Development Council of India (CSDCI) has been constituted under the mandate of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), as one of its own Public Private Partnership Organizations to promote Skill Development across the Sector. As an apex ‘Sector Skill Council’ representing the construction industry and as an ‘Awarding Body’ of ‘National Council for Vocational Education and Training’ (NCVET) it operates under the aegis of the ‘Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship’ (MSDE). Construction Skill Development Council of India is promoted by four big associations of the construction industry i.e., Builders Association of India (BAI), Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India, (CREDAI), National Highway Builders Federation (NHBF) and Construction Federation of India (CFI).
While in simple language our mandate is to bridge to the concerns of the industry, it involves a fleet of activities that will facilitate us to build bridges such as
- Identify, Map and pursue Cluster Analysis and Skill Gap Surveys at large,
- Define, Evolve / Develop, and Deploy Competency Framework i.e., National Occupation Standards, Qualifications compatible with global standards of performance,
- Identify, Develop, and Accredit Training Centers of Excellence besides identifying industry-specific ‘Subject Matter Experts’, developing Master Trainers / Trainers and Master Assessors / Assessors,
- Ensure that required visibility and awareness exist across the industry which will facilitate making the sector more aspirational,
- Ensure robustness of the skill training, assessment, and certification as per guidelines/norms of the regulatory authority i.e. National Council for Education and Training (NCVET) to ensure qualitative delivery of the skills,
- Build ‘Advocacy and Implementation’ of the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme across the sector to ensure students are industry-ready when employed and there exists an exchange of knowledge and practice.
An Opportunity for Construction Workers that Leads to Sustainable Growth
Developing and Qualifying an individual for Skills is perhaps the most sustainable social responsibility delivered. While the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) has been implemented for almost a decade, the introduction of the National Credit Framework has shown us all a glowing light at the end of the tunnel. The National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) coupled with the National Credit Framework is a magic tool in the hands of the 80% of the construction workforce to catapult their life to the next level and therefore eliminate the worries of earnings daily. It presents an opportunity to rise the ladder of operational success.
Assessing and Certifying approximately 12 lakh construction workers in the past decade by the Construction Skill Development Council of India has ensured
- sowing the seeds of the importance of skills and qualifying them
- opened multiple doors of employment and growth
Although not substantial, the efforts over the last decade have ensured enhanced wages for the qualified skills besides giving them options for employment.
Qualifications under the National Skill Qualification Framework are holistic and comprehensive and ensure that all aspects of development are covered for the individual. Besides domain-specific skill development (which also focuses on the use of modern tools to improve quality and productivity) qualifications also focus on Safety, Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Employability Skills (which includes Soft Skills topics such as Communication, Team Work etc.), Entrepreneurship Skills etc. The construction sector has welcomed one and all always and provided them an opportunity to learn and earn. Needless to say, there are umpteen numbers of examples where one can see and believe that construction workers with their sheer hard work and dedication have become good-to-do contractors today.
Further, programs such as Pradhan Mantri Vishwakarma are poised to ensure that more and more construction workers become financially independent. Independent impact studies by multiple organizations have captured an increase in wages of construction workers post-skill training over different skill development schemes/initiatives carried out by the government.
The construction sector still has to do away with the challenges that it faces today. Some of these are as below:
- Excessive use of Sub-Contracting
- Non-utilization of Labour Welfare Cess for Skill Development Activities
The construction sector may not become a fully organized industry but adopting certain traits of the formal industry will propel it next level of performance. Skill development as one of the traits of the formal industry is already adopted. However, we could further this by following steps:
- All the labor supply contractors which currently operate in the non-conventional format, start working as ‘Professional Staffing Agencies’.
- Construction workers working at construction sites are provided with ease of working and living at or near construction sites.
- Ensure that construction workers get their salaries on time if not monthly, maybe twice a month, and vide direct benefit transfer.
- Proportionate to the number of construction workers present in the state, the state welfare board should extend welfare measures irrespective of from which state the worker is originating. For this ensure the portability of labor welfare registration numbers of construction workers exists across all the states.
<to be continued in the next issue>