The Gujarat government has started a project to get informally trained skilled workers in unorganised sectors registered with the Directorate of Employment & Training (DET) and provide them certificates after they appear for theory and practical examination conducted by DET. The government’s move is aimed at making the recognised labour force available to fulfill its growing demand. The project will be launched on public-private partnership (PPP) basis.
As part of the project, the government has zeroed in on plumbers from the state through All India Plumbers’ Association and is in the process to provide certificates to more than 5,500 plumbers according to the level of their skills between Level I to VII. After completing the project with plumbers, the DET is also planning to rope in other skilled workers like like painters, masons, welders, drivers etc.
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A senior official from the Labour & Employment Department, who requested anonymity, said, “There is a dearth of skilled/certified labourers in various sectors. However, the dearth is there because most workers are informally trained and their data is not available with the government since they are part of the unorganised sector. If you go by national average, 93 per cent of labourers of various skills, including plumbing, are not formally trained and hence their data is not available. Similar is the situation in Gujarat. So, we are trying to get those informally trained workers into the mainstream so that they have more opportunities and the industry has skilled labourers. They know the skill, but don’t have the recognition.”
The officer added that since the data of such informally trained labourers was not available with government, they have planned to rope in various workers’ associations. For plumbers, it approached All India Plumbers’ Association which has now been renamed and extended into a larger group of labourers, All India Construction Workers’ Association.
The association has total 47,000 members from Gujarat and some neighbouring states. Out of them, 32,000 are from Gujarat and around 16,000 are plumbers; the rest happen to have other skills. Out of 16,000 plumbers, DET has conducted theory examination of around 5,750.
Their practical examinations will be done within a month. The examinations will be conducted by DET through partnership with a corporate firm that has expertise in plumbing.
“None of these plumbers fail in the examination. They get government certificate as per their performance from Level I to VII. Even if they are illiterate, we facilitate the exam through interpreters as what is to be assessed is their plumbing skill and not literacy. A plumber with Level VII certificate can easily get high-paying job or can even go abroad. So, basically we are trying to get them into mainstream by giving them recognition and larger market,” the government official said. “The industry will get skilled labour in return,” he added.
Suresh Chavda, who heads the association, said, “Most of our members are informally trained and literate or functionally literate. They lack government certification and so, they cannot apply for jobs or bid for a tender. With this unique initiative, these plumbers are getting certificate from the government itself which qualifies them for work anywhere; it gives them an official identity.”
Incidentally, the Gujarat government has started putting a lot of stress on “skilling” and “re-skilling” of labour force in the state in the wake of the recent surge of industrial investment in the state.
In a public function recently, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had said that in 2015-16, Gujarat witnessed investments worth Rs 82,000 crore. The CM had also emphasised on the need to have enough skilled labourers to work in the industries coming through the huge investment. Acting on the same line, the Labour & Employment Department has taken a number of initiatives to ensure availability of skilled labourers for the industry in Gujarat.
And the initiative for plumbers and workers with other skills is part of the same effort.