Education system and infrastructure need immediate attention

Amidst the noise surrounding ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ and other such initiatives rolled out by the current government, one thing is for certain: Indian policy makers have decided to tackle the issue of a weak manufacturing sector on a war footing. From 2010-11 onwards, a decline in GDP growth in the manufacturing sector was witnessed and in order to make the sector globally competitive, the government had announced the National Manufacturing Policy in 2011. The policy looked at enhancing the share of manufacturing sector to India’s GDP from 16 to 25 per cent and to create 100 million jobs by 2022. 

Skill set of Indian engineers
There is a huge gap between the requirement and supply. The industry believes that recently passed engineering graduates are not able to meet the expectations, at the same time engineering institutes also do not have proper infrastructure to train students. Industry expects the institutes to deliver skilled engineers who are well versed in the latest manufacturing trends and technologies. However, the industry also needs to join hands with institutes to train new engineers and engage more with academics.

As per the National Skill Development Corporation’s (NSDC), India will need to add 109.73 million people by 2022 to cater to 24 crucial sectors in the country. Are we ready for ready with such a huge number of skilled manpower to serve the growing manufacturing sector? Again, this is contradictory according to me; manufacturing industries are aiming to reduce man force by using automation. All the companies are looking for high level of automation and digitisation in order to reduce human errors. Many believe, this will take away some of the jobs. However, there will be need for skilful professionals who are able to match the global standards and understand the new technology trends. We need to bridge the gap between institute output and manufacturing need. Also, it’s a huge number to achieve by 2020, but I must say the right approach in right direction has started. It may be slow but at least the work has started.

How do we tackle the situation?
We expect skill, precisely for manufacturing, but the question arises why do we require skill? Especially, when the latest CNC machines are backed by artificial intelligence. Why do we depend on human workforce rather than technology? In 2014, we initiated ZSM (Zero Stock Machining) in sync with Machine Tool – CAM -Toolings. I would say this is the only answer to tackle the situation of finding right and skilled manpower.

About the Indian education system
In India, many institutes are run by people who do not have proper domain knowledge. Hence, how much can they understand the need is the question. As said earlier there is a gap between the need and supply. Institutes need to uphold the synergy with the current need of industries by arranging to tie up with industries – mainly SMEs.

The current curriculum of Indian engineering institutes, except a few, do not have specialisation of some of the basics of manufacturing such as machine tools, die mould, forging and casting among others. These areas form the back bone of manufacturing. We need to have masters’ programmes or higher education related to these areas in order to become a manufacturing powerhouse.

In in my extensive travel to Italy, Singapore and Thailand, I observed that these countries focus on practical training. They have proper balance between theoretical and practical training.  Apart from this, I also believe students in these countries have compulsory internships programme while studying. It provides them the actual knowledge of the industry.

What government can do?
Education system and infrastructure are the two bottlenecks and needs immediate attention from the government. In terms of education, as said earlier, there is an urgent requirement for a revised curriculum that focuses more on practical training and internships. Government can also help institutes to set up labs with all the necessary equipment.

Apart from this, the government can also start specialised institutes focusing on die mould, machine tools, etc

About Author:
Mr. Ravindra Moolya is the General Manager of Speroni India Private Limited. He has 21 years of experience in manufacturing industry with an interest in introducing latest trends in engineering and advanced technologies in the world. He has also been the brainchild behind the unique Engineering event called ʺE-Manufacturing Technologyʺ in 2014 at Pune that brought world manufacturing leaders together.