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Steel welding sector faces acute labour shortage

A number of project contractors have imported welding and cutting operators from China, Russia and East European Countries

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

A worker stacks steel pipes in Ahmedabad
A worker stacks steel pipes in Ahmedabad

Faced with acute shortage of skilled affecting thereby the growth of industry in India, The Indian Institute of (IIW) has urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to incentivise skill development programme to encourage youth towards profession.

Closely linked with consumption, the industry currently employs around 2.2 million people in both skilled and semi-skilled category. But, with an estimated sharp increase in consumption, the demand of skilled in welding industry is set to increase. Since, the welding industry has not been a fascinating sector to attract youths (educated or uneducated), the availability of is gradually become scarce in this sector.

"We have written to the Prime Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Union Minister for Skill Development) about shortfall in availability of skilled welders and gas cutters across the nation. Growth-led increased job openings and replacing the retiring workforce (over 2015-2022) accounts for a shortage of 1.2 million welding professionals including welders, cutters, fitters, equipment operators, and also engineers and inspectors," said R Srinivasan, President, The Indian Institute of Welding (IIW).

In fact, today a number of project contractors have imported welding and cutting operators from China, Russia and East European Countries. India is in a dire need of overhaul of the current practices and must embrace and adopt new technologies to ensure the 12th plan growth targets.

"Domestic twelfth plan targets of adding 90,000 MW power generation capacities and creating new construction assets of Rs 52 lakh crore may all get derailed for India's lack of sufficient skilled workers. The National mission of building 20 kilometres of new highways each day is already falling behind," said Srinivasan.

The 'Make-in-India' campaign has surged the growth prospects of manufacturing sector but hue and cry of perennial skilled labour shortage have become vociferous in the automobile, construction, power and defence sectors. Skilled welding professionals at all levels; pipe and plate welders, supervisors and welding engineers continue to be in short supply.

The Union government's skill development machinery which targets to skill over 500 million Indians by 2022 must work to overcome the severe shortage in employable skills of the Indian workforce.

"The IIW has offered to partner with the Union and state government machinery to up-skill Indian youth and overcome the shortage of competency-certified welding workforce. The institute has trained around 20,000 workers in the last two years who have been absorbed by the welding industry," said Abby Joseph, Past Chairman of IIW.

India's steel demand is estimated to surpass 150 million tonnes by 2022 which would increase proportionate demand of welding workforce.

To create awareness about the significance of the welding sector, IIW is organising a 3-day event between December 9 and 11 in Mumbai. Above 35 international exhibitors will showcase cutting-edge welding technology with advances in welding robotics and process automation.

This event aims to showcase the latest equipments used in global welding technologies. The Indian welding fraternity will sit together with government officials and administrators of the state run industrial training institutes (it is) to update their curriculum, match their syllabus and facilitate training with Industry participation on cutting edge technology welding equipment.

The compensation for welders is very healthy with an annual package starting from Rs 300,000 to as high as Rs 40,00,000. Many industries want to optimise their capital investments and rely on welders who have the ability to rebuild fairly old and worn equipment. Such skills have become a rarity and are in great demand.

First Published: Tue, December 08 2015. 18:34 IST