Gap in designing skills bridged In the absence of designing skills in the cluster, enterprises have been copying the designs of imported machinery and fabricating them in their workshops. Designing of new machinery or even upgrading the existing machinery with new driving and other mechanisms was not taking place in the cluster due to lack of designing skills in the enterprises. In order to overcome this problem the cluster enterprises motivated young engineering graduates with good designing skills to set up a designing facility with the assurance that cluster enterprises would make use of the facility fully. Four young engineering graduates from AWH Engineering College, Kozhikode were encouraged to join together and promote the design hub called Ogas Engineers in 2009. A MoU has also signed by the SPV with this centre. To foster the business relationship, Ogas Engineers have voluntarily taken shares of the SPV.
Shortage of trained manpower is a perennial problem faced by many industries all over the country and Kerala is no exception. In fact, Kerala is known for its unfriendly workforce due to the domination of unions affiliated to political ideologies. There are umpteen instances where adamant attitude of labour unions resulted in the closure of industrial establishments. But in the last 10 years or so, there have been appreciable changes in the attitudes of workers and unions. But still, there is lurking fear in the minds of entrepreneurs that increasing the strength of workforce in their establishments will lead to labour problems and hence they are hesitant to expand production capacities or set up new units. It has been observed in the DSR that “The engineering industry in general requires highly skilled workforce for most of its operations. There are 4 IITs and one Women‟s Polytechnic in Kozhikode. These institutions are training skilled workers in large numbers in many vocations. But the skilled workers trained in these institutions mostly migrate to Gulf countries where lucrative job opportunities at high wages are plenty. A small portion of the trained workforce migrate to other states, particularly, Tamilnadu as the numerous large scale industries and workers generally prefer working I last scale industries. Consequently, there is a tremendous shortage of skilled workers in MSMEs in the cluster as well as other industrial hubs in Kerala. In spite of the reasonably high wage levels, namely, around Rs.350-400 per day for skilled workers, Rs.250-300 for semi-skilled workers, Rs.200-250 unskilled workers and women workers, nobody wants to work in MSMEs. MSMEs do invest time and money in training skilled workers on the job. But there is no guarantee that a person trained by an enterprise would continue to work in the same enterprise after training. Level of attrition is very high and retaining skilled workers even by paying high wages is a serious problem faced by the enterprises in the cluster. The cluster may have to come up with concrete proposals to train and retain workers.”
The SPV has to make a small beginning in finding a solution to the shortage of skilled labour force. It has decided to set up a Training Facility as a part of the CFC to train skilled workers in operating, lathes, drilling, grinding, plaining, welding and other machines. The focus of training is ”multi-skilling‟ as MSMEs cannot afford to employ skilled workers for every operation. The Training Centre will also train welders etc.
The training centre will offer two courses, namely, (i) Machine Operators Course of 4 months duration with an intake of 20 trainees per batch and (ii) Welders Course of 3 months duration with an intake of 20 trainees per batch. The target is to train 140 skilled workers per year.
The Training Centre will make use of government schemes for providing stipends to trainees so that young boys and girls from poor families will get an opportunity to get trained and employed in high wage jobs. The financial performance of the foundry is very good. Hence the SPV will consider financing the training centre at the appropriate time for-