The skill development initiatives now underway in the rubber industry have brought in tangible benefits, including good increase in productivity in the plantation sector, better safety process for road transport, and a new wave of entrepreneurship.
Rubber Skill Development Council (RSDC), a sector-specific skill council for the rubber sector promoted by All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) and Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA) in collaboration with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), has been focusing on skill/reskill development & training needs of the plantation, tyre and non-tyre sectors of the industry.
RSDC has been allocated a sum of ₹250 crore by the Government for a four-year period with a mandate to reskill about 10 lakh people in the rubber industry under project ‘Saamarth’.
The industry has a huge workforce. Other than tyres, all other categories are unorganised. To understand the skill gap existing in the industry, a study was conducted across 21 states in manufacturing and plantation sectors. Following this exercise, RSDC embarked on a massive reskilling programme, under which close to 1.5 lakh people have been trained across plantation, tyre and non-tyre sectors since 2015.
The skill boost programmes in the rubber plantation sector, which has been attempting to improve the quality and output, have brought in great benefits.
“We have found that when we skilled the people in the plantation sector, rubber productivity went up by 16 per cent, which is a significant increase,” Vinod T Simon, Chairman, RSDC, told BusinessLine .
“We just taught the people in the plantation sector about the techniques and processes to keep the product pure. So, a tree which was giving 100 kg, is now giving 116 kg without any additional cost,” he added.
About 45,000 natural rubber plantation workers have so far been certified in 13 southern and north eastern states.
The reskill programme under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY) recognition of Prior Learning Scheme, has been training tyre fitters and tyre mechanics on highways. As 12-13 per cent of accidents on highways are caused by the wrong fitment of tyres, RSDC worked out a reskill programme under which mobile skill vans with machinery and trainers go to their outlets to train and certify them.
“This certification process will improve tyre services and maintenance and proper fitment of tyres, thereby improving safety on roads. Currently, there about 40 mobile vans for the reskilling of tyre fitters. We will have at least two vans in each state to train roadside mechanics,” said Simon.
A total of 50,000 tyre fitters have been reskilled across 21 states.
Tyre companies like Bridgestone India have signed up with RSDC to train people on tyre fitting and repair jobs. The Bridgestone programme alone will benefit over 3,600 roadside tyre fitters.
RSDC has also incorporated an entrepreneurship training curriculum in its programme under which people are enabled to set up their own units. A roadside tyre fitter can set up his own puncture or wheel alignment shop.
“We have an agency to help those people. For these aspiring entrepreneurs, our agency will prepare the project report, arrange finance and handhold them for three months till they settle down. This entrepreneurship focus has helped some people to establish their own small rubber nurseries near the plantations,” he said.
RSDC has affiliated over 50 training partners conducting training across the country, and it has conducted training and certification for 950 trainers and 475 assessors, who are expected to ensure uniform delivery of skilling.
Also, more than 70 per cent of the certified students have been placed/self-employed.