IESC: A Collaborative Approach to Skilling the Construction Workforce

Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC)
IESC bridges the skills gap in infrastructure construction equipment operation and maintenance with their NSQF-aligned programs, industry collaboration, focus on emerging technologies, and initiatives to create a skilled, certified workforce.

Vijay Kumar - Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC)

Skill shortage in the construction industry can have deep implications in the execution of critical Infrastructure projects. It can lead to delays in project completion and also impact the quality of execution of projects. Delays in project completion can result in cost overruns. On the other hand, skilled operators can help reduce fuel costs, equipment downtime, and abuse of the equipment. Safety concerns may also be mitigated when the operators are skilled.

Skilled workers can also ensure that the technology that is embedded in the equipment is used optimally. While we need to address the issue of skill shortage, we also need to be equally cognizant of the rapid development of technology being integrated in advanced equipment.

Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC)

IESC presently has 28 job roles that are NSQF aligned: These include Operator job roles for Backhoe Loaders, Wheel Loaders, Excavators, Compactors, Cranes, Pavers, Hot Mix Plants, and Batching Plants etc. The job roles cover almost 90% of the Construction Equipment (by volume) sold in the country. In addition, there are Technician job roles in the area of Engines, Hydraulics, Electrical/Electronics, and Instrumentation. These provide a solid grounding for technicians engaged in supporting the equipment in the field. IESC also has two supervisory roles: in Maintenance and in Plant and Machinery, which are very beneficial for Workshop Managers and Field Service Managers.

IESC is dedicated to enhancing skills and employability in the infrastructure equipment sector. It collaborates with various stakeholders, including industry, government, and training providers, to develop training programs and courses that address the needs of the industry. Broadly speaking, these programs cover the following:

Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC)
Operator Training Programs: These focus on training individuals to operate various types of Infrastructure equipment, safely and efficiently. The Construction Equipment Industry caters to a large segment of machines like Earthmoving, Road Construction, Material Handling, Material Processing, and Concrete. Each of these categories again has different types of equipment, hence, there are various jobs and roles for the operators.

Technician Training Programs: These aim to develop technical skills in maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting. Technicians are trained to perform routine maintenance tasks, diagnose equipment issues, and conduct repairs. As more technology has been introduced in the componentry of the equipment, there is an urgent need for skilled workers for speedy repairs, and for preventive and predictive maintenance to ensure equipment uptime.

Skill Enhancement Programs: These are designed to enhance the skills of existing workers in the sector. These are short duration courses focused on upskilling and may include advanced equipment operation techniques and awareness of features such as Telematics, Diagnostics, Safety Devices, etc.

IESC works closely with Industry to ensure that the Skilling programmes are in tune with the changes in technology to optimize utilization of the tools that are available. The Council works closely with OEMs, Component Manufacturers, and the end-users in identifying skill requirements and trends. Industry studies such as the ICEMA Vision 2030 report give a broad overview of technology trends and the resultant skill sets required. A Technology roadmap for the Construction Industry is also being outlined along with the concomitant Skills roadmap. Interactions and workshops with stakeholders are held to identify more areas that need focus.

For example, telematics is being extensively used in construction equipment across applications. ICT (Information & Communication Technology) enablement helps generate data pertaining to Equipment usage hours, efficiency of usage, location, alarms for system malfunction and so on. These data points/ reports help in preventive maintenance, better utilization and monitoring of assets, and geofencing.

Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC)

In mining applications, there is increased use of Autonomous Drives and higher usage of Technology in Safety Systems. With investment in new technology / advancement in Construction & Mining Equipment, it is essential to upskill the existing manpower and create a pool of skilled workforce that is aligned with these developments.

IESC also offers customized upskilling programmes of shorter duration for experienced operators and technicians. For example, changes in technology necessitate introduction of modules on Telematics, Mechatronics, Automation, Safety features, etc. These can be developed and run at project sites or at Training Centres. Thus the Council is continuously keeping operators and technicians abreast of the latest technologies embedded in the equipment.

IESC works with Industry players in facilitating skilling: IESC has created the Qualification Packs and Content in consultation with Industry players. IESC job roles, aligned with the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF), cover a wide range of areas including equipment operations, maintenance & repair, and supervision. Additional job roles in emerging areas of new products and technologies are constantly evaluated and actioned upon.

IESC assists in Affiliation of Training Partners and Accreditation of Training Centres. It works with industry partners, the academia, and private training partners in setting up a skilling ecosystem to cater to the evolving skilling needs of the Industry.

IESC offers Training of Trainers programs (ToT) to create a pool of trainers across the country in the various job roles. These trainers in turn give training across the various training centers that have been accredited across the country.

Assessment of candidates through IESC nominated Assessment Agencies is done upon successful completion of the Training Programme and IESC certificates are given to successful candidates. IESC’s membership comprises large construction equipment OEMs, which together account for more than 90% of Industry volumes. These members discuss key issues related to skill development through regular meetings, conferences and exhibitions. IESC also offers a platform for member companies to utilize their CSR funds for skill development activities in the construction equipment industry by facilitating the right partnerships. The Council participates in Seminars, Exhibitions and in Industry events and offers opportunities to partner with it in joint branding and promotions.

Infrastructure Equipment Skill Council (IESC)

Challenges: A key challenge being faced by the construction equipment sector is the high cost involved in training operators and mechanics, viz-a-viz other sectors, by virtue of the high Capex and Opex involved. Setting up a good skilling facility would involve, among other things, equipment in good operating condition for imparting hands-on training. Apart from classrooms and other infrastructure, open land needs to be made available to operate the equipment.

For technicians, labs equipped with hydraulic components, engine assemblies or electrical circuits and components are required. The equipment at these centres also needs to be maintained well, which requires servicing at regular intervals and changes of the consumables, which again is a cost. Plus, the high fuel cost in running the machines.

OEMS have set up their own Training Centres that are world class.It is important to also have well equipped Private training centres as well as in Academic and Techical Training Institutions and facilities for dealers and component makers as well so as to widen the skilling footprint and scale up the number of people being skilled. IESC plays an important role in connecting these training partners with the OEMs to provide some support. IESC also seeks to partner with the end-user industries such as construction and mining companies to set up a skilling infrastructure.

Secondly, with the projected increase in demand for operators and technicians, and emphasis on safety requirements, it is important that the Indian Government considers mandating deployment of only trained and certified operators and technicians across projects. Currently, most operators have not gone through a formal skilling and certification process. The Indian Construction Equipment Manufacturers Association(ICEMA) along with IESC has made representations to the Government regarding this issue.

IESC qualifications programs are designed to deliver a more comprehensive package of skills: Our qualifications for operators, for instance, include pre-checks of equipment, basic troubleshooting, and awareness of safety and environment aspects, so that the operator has complete understanding of the equipment and the environment in which he is working. We have recently added employability skills to the qualifications, which include basic communication skills, financial and computer literacy.

There is a strong need to make equipment operator and technician job roles more attractive and lucrative:
An area of concern is the low appeal for construction job roles amongst the youth in view of the tough and remote working conditions. This can only happen through a sustained campaign to increase awareness amongst the youth and especially so through OEM campaigns in educational institutes.

Many OEMs, as a part of their CSR activities, are engaging with the youth from villages and underprivileged communities to promote training programs. Creating sufficient employment opportunities for skilled workers is essential to ensure that investments in skill development translate into meaningful employment outcomes.
NBM&CW - May 2024
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