Fifty-eight exceptional Indian girls and boys have recently flown to participate in Worldskills 2022 Special Edition, to compete in 52 skill contests. This time around the competition is being held across 15 countries from September-November 2022. Of these, 13 youngsters are masters in ‘building skills’, the skills that go to make up buildings, exteriors, and interiors. There’s going to be a high tide in building skills.
The building skills are carpentry, cabinetmaking, joinery, bricklaying, concrete construction work, digital construction, electrical installation, landscape gardening, painting and decorating, plastering and drywalling, plumbing and heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning, and wall and floor tiling.
For the past two years, these contestants have undergone rigorous training, and competed at the state, regional and national levels of Indiaskills 2021. The finalist from each trade represents India at Worldskills, the Olympics of Skills.
Whether they win at Worldskills or not is unimportant. They’ve already proven their mettle and are amongst the finest craftsmen in the country, possibly the world. All of them have great careers ahead of them as assistants, supervisors, managers, and trainers.
The finalists, and all those who competed at Indiaskills, will be adding great value to the building and home improvement industry. Their skills and work ethic will transform the way buildings are made, improved, and maintained. First-time-right installation, use of correct tools, adherence to plans and processes, and minimum consumption of materials; these approaches promise to make our buildings sustainable, safe, and healthy. All because the workforce is mastering building skills.
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With 51 million employed by the construction industry, and 84 per cent being casual workers, a few thousand trained may appear to be just a drop in the ocean. But the skill development is steady and sustained. It is being driven by Skill India mission, launched in 2015 and aims to train 400 million Indians for industry-relevant jobs.
The sector skill councils (SSC) that pertain to building and home improvement are the Furniture Fittings Skill Council, Water Management and Plumbing Skill Council, Paints and Coatings Skill Council, Construction Skill Development Council, Power Sector Skill Council, Electronics Sector Skill Council, and Agriculture Skill Council of India.
The SSCs comprise government and respective industry representatives. They are governed by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), which also organises the Indiaskills competitions and Indian participation at Worldskills. NSDC in turn is a part of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
SSCs’ fundamental role is to create National Occupation Standards (NOS). An NOS defines the key function in a job role. It describes functions, standards of performance, and the required knowledge and understanding. Along with NOS comes the Qualification Pack, which is a set of NOS that applies to a certain job role.
NOSs and QPs enable the industry and training sector to speak in terms of standardised job roles, and specify the competency levels (levels 1 – 5) required and being offered.
The building and home improvement industry has contributed to the skilling mission by forming a consensus on NOS, investing in training infrastructure, and encouraging worker participation in skilling, reskilling and upskilling initiatives. Several corporates have sponsored materials, mentoring, and training facilities to ensure that the contestants get a level playing field when they compete at WorldSkills. The benefactors this year include Saint Gobain Gyproc, Iraj Evolution Design Pvt Ltd. (I.EVO), Narsi Group, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Sujan Carnival Furniture, and Berger Paints.
The building skills ecosystem is evolving. And even as 13 building skills craftsmen compete at the Olympics of Skills, these drops in the ocean are adding to a high tide that will soon overwhelm India’s building and home improvement industry.