LSSC: Streamlining the Unorganised Leather Sector
Leather, being one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the Indian economy due to abundance of locally available raw materials, India has emerged as the second largest producer of footwear and goods and garments in the global market. Due to its prominent position in the Indian economy, the leather sector has generated enormous scope for employment and entrepreneurship.
In the recent years, the leather industry is witnessing rapid changes due to advancements in leather processing technology, shifts in consumer demands, changes in product mixes and export-related regulatory compliances. This has raised issues pertaining to skilled workmanship in this industry. Most of the workers have been provided with on-the-job training in the production facilities that usually involved observing their experienced peers. The factories are finding their workers incapable of grappling with the recent changes in the industry, thereby posing a major challenge for the Indian leather sector catering to international markets.
Since its inception in the month of February 2012, Leather Sector Skill Council, one of the autonomous bodies under the National Skill Certification Scheme, has been actively involved in improving the quality of the workforce in the Leather and Leather goods industry through upskilling and reskilling.
Mentoring training partners
Working closely with many industry players and training partners, the Leather Sector Skill Council, or LSSC, has taken several initiatives towards development of a skilled labour force. Established with a vision to promote the leather industry, LSSC has laid the platform for leather workers to learn and upgrade their skills. It is a gradual process which will aid India in becoming one of the global leaders in manufacturing and supplying leather products in the near future. Currently, LSSC is targeting to train and develop the skills of nearly two million people by the year 2020.
From utility to fashion
For ages leather has by far been the most desired material for the international fashion labels. The leather industry in India has a strong potential to stand tall in the international market with its home-grown fashion and lifestyle products. Armed with a Make in India label, LSSC has taken bold steps in attracting and shaping the talent in the leather sector. Initially, it strategically launched a few pilot training projects across the country simultaneously. With a carefully crafted content and curriculum, the LSSC was able to cover various product segments. Footwear, Leather Garments and Goods, Finished Leather are some of the products identified by the LSSC in its initial phases. Over time, it plans to intensify its training programs based on the results of its initial projects. It has already shortlisted an additional number of trades, and currently, there are around 50 trades in the list.
Recognising existing talent
LSSC has come a long way in changing the dynamics of the Leather Industry in India. As an effort to acknowledge the traditional informal training regime in the industry as well as bridge existing skill gaps, LSSC has implemented the Recognition of Prior Learning, or RPL, through which it proposes to assess and certify 40 lakhs unskilled workers by 2020. The RPL scheme is already active in more than 10 states and has certified over 27000 workers so far. The program provides its participants with the necessary assessment and certification of their existing skillset. Many of the candidates of the RPL program have claimed the program to be a ‘life transforming experience’ as erstwhile inaccessible doors have now been unlocked for better employment and options for entrepreneurship. By aligning their competencies with industry demands, they are better skilled to cater to the international standards. Through proper assessment of skills, LSSC is able to gauge the skill gap and close this gap through suitable reskilling programs. Employers, too, are reaping benefits as productivity and quality have augmented through these programs.
Through its well-meaning schemes and efforts, LSSC is hoping to transform the leather sector into a more productive industry operating on par with international players.