Importance and Benefits of Skilling for MSME Workers'
By: Mr. Sunil Marwah, CEO, FICSI
New Delhi, July 25 (KNN) The ecosystem of food production and processing has been on an edge due to the ongoing pandemic. The nation’s food supply is susceptible to disruption not because of the risk of contamination of food but by the transmission of the virus among the factory workers in locations where the food is produced, processed, packaged and sold to the consumers. Logistics have also been disrupted by the pandemics and thereby supplies are also affected.
The main concern for the sector is to prevent the spread of the virus among the workers in food operation. Keeping the current situation in mind, it has become crucial for the sector to educate its workers, stakeholders associated with food processing aware about the COVID-19 and teach them how they can stop the spread of the virus.
India is a young nation with over 45 percent of its population is within the 20-35 age group. To ensure that this broad labor pool is competitive and effectively contributes to the growth and the development of our economy, a skilled workforce should be taken on a priority basis. As the driver of growth, skilled workforce contribute to the development of an entrepreneurial spirit in the economy.
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector has been considered as the key player in the ‘Make in India’ campaign therefore there is a need to have a skilled workforce to make this campaign successful as skill development is a prerequisite for starting any micro, small or medium enterprise. The skilled manpower requirements in the MSME sector by 2022 is projected to be around 150 million.
FICSI supported by NSDC and FICCI creates an ecosystem for skilled manpower associated with the food processing industry. The council creates standards in the form of qualification packs for people who are interested in the food processing sector. The main purpose of FICSI is to make our workforce skilled so that our food processing industry becomes more competitive, profitable and above all ensure consumer safety. In doing so, the council provides training to trainers as well as the training providers for instance private institutes or colleges who undertake skilling to the students in the food industry.
FICSI is incorporated in three different segments; skill development via online and offline modes, development and benchmarking of qualification standards to perform a job comprising the digital India aspect of it and finally conducting skill gap analysis across the sector of frequent intervals. Till date the council covers 49 job roles which covers around 11 sub sectors of the food processing industry which are for the students, the retailers, industry workers, and for the general public who wish to learn something new.
Because of COVID-19, FICSI has redesigned its classroom based learning to digital based learning. Under E-learning initiatives, the council has launched first ever e-learning platform ‘FICSI’s ONLINE TRAINING AND ASSESSMENT ACADEMY’ for MSME Manufacturers and food handlers to continue providing skilling in Food Processing through the channel of digital learning in this time of global health crisis. Under this academy, the council has introduced short and free special certificate courses related to COVID-19 to make industry people educate or make the stakeholders associated in the food chain aware about COVID-19 and how to prevent the spread of the virus by teaching them safe and hygienic practices. The content of the courses and modules have been developed by experts from FICSI, FSSAI & FICCI and has been validated by NIFTEM and various Industry partners.
Under this academy, the council has launched a module for retailers as they also need to understand what safe and hygienic practices they have to follow or supposed to perform so that it will enhance their business and keep consumers safe and healthy as people are shifting from buying from kirana stores to ecommerce, so with its modules they will educate kirana store on safety measurements.
FICSI’s Online Training and Assessment Academy is also available on Android app which can be downloaded from the playstore so that people can go through the content of the courses. This app comes very handy and occupies just 1mb of size. It is indispensable for the food industry to reinforce personal hygiene measures and provide new training on food hygiene principles to wipe out or reduce the risk of food surfaces and food packaging materials becoming contaminated with the virus from food workers.
Apart from this FICSI also promotes the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) backed by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). This scheme to incentivize the employers recruiting the youth/ fresh talent as an apprentice. This is to promote the blended learning model for the youth and also enabling creation of India as an efficient labour market. This incentive scheme to hire young talent is also attracting various employers across the sector towards skilling drive.
Anybody who is working in the food industry whether in the factory, storage, logistics should have an in-depth knowledge of safe and hygiene guidelines by FSSAI so that they can ensure food safety. According to FSSAI, all the food processing units whether small or large should have a registration certificate and this certificate will only be available if the certain percentage of workforce have assessed and cleared or gone through certain training in food safety and hygiene training (FoSTaC Training) and in doing so FICSI provides skilling to those workforce alongside FoSTaC certification, which further serves as a dual certification program.
In previous year, FICSI has taken up an ambitious program to train local halwais and bakery owners of the small scale and unorganized sector in food safety and hygiene. Till now, 50,000 people have been trained under this program and still running successfully.
Technology in today’s competitive world plays an impressive role and like in any other industry technology also plays an important role in the food processing industry. It not only ensures easy traceability of the products but it also enhances the shelf life of the products. Also many of the MSMEs are now moving through hand-less food manufacturing operations through automation which the blending, products’ packaging all those can be hand free and can be done automatically. The idea is to give consumers the sense of security that whatever they’re consuming is made with utmost care by taking all the precautions of safety and skilled manpower plays an important role in handling these systems efficiently.
Therefore, FICSI is aligning with MoFPI and MSDE to provide all the above skills to people who are associated with food processing and make the sector filled with a more skilled workforce so that all the food can be prepared and delivered following all the safe and hygiene practices or guidelines.
FICSI is now focusing on the future skills, working with the various ministries to work on goals which will be required in the future to enhance skilling programs in food safety and hygiene. The initiatives taken by the MSDE are to be attuned with the future needs of skill development across Food Processing Sector. In order to upscale the activities relating to skill development, FICSI works relentlessly to put a highly creative and smart professional workforce to build new avenues for our Indian economy and make it more globally known.