Re-engineering the Skill Ecosystem
‘Skill development’ has become the buzzword in the gem and jewellery industry. A number of initiatives have been launched alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Skill India and Make in India campaigns to build a s
killed workforce. Whether holding training programmes, giving certificates or building skilling ecosystem, the gem and jewellery industry is not shying away from investing in skill development anymore. Enumerating the steps taken by the government as well as the GJ industry towards building the skill ecosystem, Team Floroscent evaluates the current skill resources against the backdrop of future projections.
The Indian jewellery market is expected to grow almost double by 2022-23 and with that, the gem and jewellery industry is set for another boom. From deeper penetration of the Indian markets to establishing prominence in the global arena, advance technology to innovative designs and growth in GDP to employment generation, the industry is expected to grow on all counts. On evaluating the current scenario against the backdrop of future projections, a skilled workforce has emerged as a decisive factor in achieving the vision 2022-23 and this is where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Skill India and Make In India initiatives factor in.
Supporting PM’s vision for putting India on the trajectory of growth through numerous initiatives, Praveenshankar Pandya, chairman, GJEPC, said that “The Council has always strived to support Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s vision for putting India on the trajectory of growth through numerous initiatives, one such being ‘Skill India’. Our latest effort in this direction is establishing an Indian Institute of Gems and Jewellery (IIGJ) in Varanasi, which is in sync with the government’s Teach India and Skill Upgradation programme. This institute will nurture skill and talent in the gem and jewellery sector and stop erosion of large scale migration of artisans to other sectors. The GJ industry has been growing rapidly over the years due to domestic and international demands and thus, it is on the cusp of shortage of skilled staff. By offering professional management courses, we can bring new talent in the industry as well as groom the existing talent,” he suggested.
Nirmal Kumar Bardiya, managing director, RMC Gems and president, Jewellers’ Association Jaipur, shared that the GJ industry of India is actively working towards realising PM’s vision to make India, the world’s skill capital. “With the help of Gem and Jewellery Skill Council of India (GJSCI) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), we are providing skill training to new karigars and making them industry ready. A big challenge that we face is the aspiration and respect for skills, among the old karigars. Through GJSCI’s RPL programme, we provide karigar 12-18 hours of training followed by an exam. As per the performance, they are graded and certified for their talent. Besides this, the industry needs to intensify funding part of the training cost as an investment for skilling/ up-skilling its own manpower and adopt skill development as a crucial activity under CSR,” he opined.
“We have been working closely with GJSCI to promote skill development in the industry and as a result, a good portion of karigars in Jaipur have shifted from cutting and polishing to colourstone jewellery manufacturing. Now, there are over two lakh karigars in this segment and the pace at which the number is constantly growing, soon Jaipur will become a colourstone jewellery manufacturing hub. We are working towards providing a steady stream of workforce for this segment,” he added.
Time to Skill Up
While K Srinivasan, managing director, Emerald Jewel Industry Ltd and convener – Jewellery Panel Committee, GJEPC, stated that the Indian jewellery designs are already popular in many markets across the world and the industry has the potential to become the global manufacturing hub for gold jewellery, he answered some pertinent questions – how to harness this talent, how to generate employment for thousands of artisans and how to provide a boost to the Indian economy? “A viable gold policy is clearly the need of the hour. Furthermore, the government should formulate clear guidelines and facilitate the setting up of a network of jewellery parks across the country. The GJEPC has already proposed the setting up of a jewellery park in the vicinity of Mumbai, which is one of the main manufacturing centres in the country and the same could be replicated in various others part of India. The GJSCI’s efforts to recognise and grade the traditional skills of karigars and formalise training and certification programmes would be perfectly complemented by the emergence of such jewellery parks across the country. India has the manpower, the skills and the vision. With just a little push, it can be transformed into the leading jeweller to the world,” he shared.
According to Prem Kumar Kothari, chairman, GJSCI, India is one of the largest exporters of gem and jewellery and contributes a major portion to the total foreign reserves and as companies today compete with the best in the world, their requirement for trained and skilled personnels will increase.
“The GJ industry is a labour-intensive one and to have skilled manpower is an asset to the company. Invest in skills and your employees will be your assets. Skilled employees not only offer quality service but also keep check on manufacturing defects which results in cost-effectiveness. We are working towards ensuring that a skilled and certified labour force is created in the industry which has the right work environment and apart from increasing their productivity, ensure their financial and physical wellbeing. For this initiative, we are constantly working with several state governments. While on one hand RPL is the first step for an individual to explore career choices in the industry, our initiative Dakshagraam help the transition of the industry from being unorganised to organised,” he declared.
Pramod Agrawal, director, Derewala Industries Ltd and regional chairman, GJEPC, said “The industry has taken a number of initiatives for upgrading skills of the artisans and attracting fresh talent to further strengthen the rapid modernisation of the gemstone and jewellery trade in Rajasthan. The setting up of IIGJ-J is one of the initiatives. Over the years, the institute has aided in the development of Jaipur’s rich heritage of jewellery manufacturing, the art and craft of particular skills like kundan, minakari, jadau and so many other traditional forms developed by Indian artisans over the centuries.”
“Moreover, the institute’s close association with GJSCI and NSDC has helped in upgrading the quality of training and education in the sector. This work in the field of skill development is not restricted to preserving old crafts and abilities. The industry, in association with the IIGJ-J, is also working on ways and means of developing these skills further by fusing the advance technology with the talent and expertise that had been passed down to succeeding generations over the years. The institute actively participates in National Skill Mission, under which it ran pilot batches for Standard Training Assessment and Reward (STAR) scheme and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna,” he revealed.
Upgrading with Changing Times
Vijay Chordia, president, Sitapura Gems and Jewellery Industry Association (SGJIA), urged the industry to make efforts in spreading awareness about Skill India and other related schemes among karigars. “Times have changed and thus, the industry needs modernisation. We must now align our industry with the need of the international markets. Today, even local consumers have become very conscious. They want best in design and craftsmanship. What was accepted earlier is not accepted now. Even in kundan meena jewellery, which is the most traditional way of making jewellery, a lot of modern techniques are implemented today. Thus, the karigars needs to upgrade their skill-sets. For example, to control the cost of production, the workforce needs to learn how to save the gold loss or what equipment to use to make the work faster. They have to keep upgrading themselves,” he said.
“At present, there is a shortage of labour in the GJ industry. Be it machinery or casting work, there is skill shortage. The karigars need few good places of learning. IIGJ and GJSCI are helping a lot in bridging this skill-gap. They are offering long term courses for new labourers and short term courses for the experienced ones, so that they can upgrade their skill. Not only karigars, the existing staff also need to know about the latest developments. They must be aware of the new trends. Thus, the need to have regular workshops and seminars is more now. The small centres like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, etc., need to have such environment more than bigger centres like Mumbai,” he pointed out.
Focus on Inclusive Growth
A study conducted by NSDC on ‘Human Resources and Skill Requirement in the Gem and Jewellery Industry’, Annual Survey of Industries and IMaCS analysis, revealed that the eastern part of India has very scarce presence in the GJ sector. One of the major reasons is the unavailability of trained and skilled workers in this region which clearly indicates that these states have missed out on the rapid industrialisation in India together with the phenomenal IT boom. The need for these states to revive their traditional skills and culture to grow economically is critical and it should be based on the industries cluster present there. To arrest internal migration, industries should be incentivised to set up establishments in these labour-incentive states and plan skill development accordingly.
A critical Proposition
Acknowledging the industry’s role in generating jobs, Nirmala Sitharaman stated in a statement that: “Unlike other sectors, the GJ sector has direct impact on job creation. This is one sector which has different sub-sectors by which the industry provides maximum jobs to people who come from rural areas and also with non gem and jewellery background through proper training. It is our responsibility to not only identify and support but also ensure that the process is handed over to the next generation.”
Quite clearly, the bright side to the challenge of skill development in the gem and jewellery sector is that while the government recognises India’s favourable demographic dividend, it is also offering ways to provide training and employment to the millions of karigars. However, nothing short of a revolution is required in skilling and up-skilling space, which has assumed critical proposition and might determine the future growth of the industry.