Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Orissa needs to set right its technical education

The Statesman, Aug 29, 2007
Jitu Mishra

BHUBANESWAR, Aug 28: Orissa which was earlier known for all wrong reasons like starvation deaths, child sale, high unemployment has now become the most favoured destination for global investors attracting the likes of POSCO, Arcelor Mittal, Sterlite, Vedanta, Tata’s etc.
Backed by its abundant mineral resources it has already signed over 60 MoUs in steel, aluminum, power and other sectors ensuing an investment to the tune of Rs 4 lakh crores.
As stated recently by Industry secretary Mr. Ashok Dalwai, various project proposals including those of POSCO and Arcelor Mittal are at different stages of implementation and the government is hopeful that within the next 8-10 years, these plants would be commissioned.
The problem, however, is the non-availability of enough manpower with the specific skills which will be heavily required by these industries which are both technology and labour intensive, observe educationists and industrial circles here.
Despite some initiatives the state by and large seems completely un-prepared for meeting the demand for the manpower that will be required as these projects roll out.
The question is, how the state, which ranks 2nd in the country in terms of unemployment growth rate (as per NSSO report ’07) and home to around 10 lakh unemployed people, would cope up with the situation.
A glimpse at the projected employment opportunities to be created by of some of these mega projects reflects the huge gap.
According to a Social Cost Benefit Analysis of the proposed 12 MTPA integrated Greenfield Steel Project of POSCO-India, prepared by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), the project would create 18,000 direct employment opportunities in iron & steel production sector while simultaneously generating 15,000 employments in iron ore mining sector over a period of 30 years.
The report also says that if all these direct & indirect employment opportunities of the project including the ones that will be generated as linkage effect in the manufacturing, trade, construction, agro-based businesses such as farming, animal husbandry etc., hospitality & services sectors are taken into account the employment effect of the project will be 8.7 lakh person-years over the period of 30 yrs.
Arcelor Mittal which also proposes to set up a steel plant of similar capacity though has assigned MN Dastur & Co. for preparation of the comprehensive study report, the preliminary estimates say that the project would create 20,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Apart from these two companies, there are several others in the fray and some of them have even started initial or trial production.
If we go by the simple ratio of production output and employment generation put up by NCAER; the crude steel sector would generate 0.692 person-years of employment per Rs 1 lakh of output while iron ore sector would create 0.354 person-years for the same output.
More over, realization of all these projects will stimulate other industries in the state, as a Linkage Effect, which will impact job creation in related sectors.
The ancillary and downstream industries and infrastructure development sector also promise a lot many employment opportunities and scope for entrepreneurship for the unemployed in the state.
Opportunities of such huge number of employment are to benefit both the technical as well as the non-technical workforce, in the state, which is presently characterized by abundant manpower but plagued by the problems of unemployment, underemployment and migration of labour.
Human resource development experts feel that the government should develop an action plan with the help of companies and technical institutions to groom the manpower so that maximum number of talents from Orissa get employment by the time the projects start operating.
As said by Infosys BPO Chairman Mr. Mohandas Pai during his recent visit, Orissa should first put efforts to build a pool of skilled professionals in the state if it wishes to capitalize on the employment opportunities.
The government decision to open a branch of Central Tool Room & Training Centre at Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex, in Jajpur District, POSCO-India’s Human Resource Development Training Centre on 7 acres of land and the Tata Steel’s Technical Training Center at Gopalpur are some noticeable efforts in enhancing the employability of the local people.
But, more & more companies need to be encouraged to set up technical institutes such as ITIs & ITCs to prepare manpower as the annual turn out out of such skilled workforce in the state is 21,912 from out of 24 Govt. & 152 private ITIs & ITCs in the state (As per Govt. of Orissa data for the year 2004-05).
But the fact is that many of them, around two-third pass outs even lack of technical skills, practical exposure as well as domain knowledge and fail to meet the industry standards, as pointed out by a leading automobile manufacturer.
The need of the hour is to improve on the standard of the present technical education in the state and strengthening the industry-institution linkage. Maximum advantage needs to be taken from the Biju Pattnauk National Steel Institute (BPNSI), set up by Ministry of Steel at Puri. Sensing the huge requirement of technical manpower and the urgent need of reviving the technical education, initiatives need to be started immediately to set right the technical education scenario in the state.
Lack of effort in this direction could spell doom in the hopes of the unemployed in the state as they would be wanting in required skills.

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