GANDHINAGAR, INDIA — A trained workforce is shaping up to be a major challenge for the Indian plastics industry, which needs 2 million to 3 million more staff by 2020 to keep up with demand, according to one Indian trade association.
“The processing sector is expected to grow by 13 percent in the fiscal [year] 2015-16 and it would likely attract investment to the tune of $10 billion in the next five years,” said Deepak Lawale, secretary general of the Mumbai-based Organization of Plastics Processors of India. “Therefore, the challenge of a trained labor force is huge.”
In an interview at the Plastindia 2015 trade fair, held in early February in Gandhinagar, Lawale estimated that the industry will require 2 to 3 million more skilled workers by 2020.
An official with the Indian government's Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology, Technical Officer R.S. Shelvan, said the group is building a plastics training institute in Hyderabad, in Andra Pradesh, with another proposed for Baddi, in Himachal Pradesh.
CIPET said it supplies about 46,000 trained people to the plastics industry annually, but it estimates that's only about half of the 95,000 people it believes are required annually.
CIPET's figures are estimates for the so-called organized sector in India, the companies that are fully registered and paying taxes.
The much larger OPPI figure for labor needs include the large unorganized sector in the country, often smaller companies. OPPI said about 40 percent of India's polymer processing is done by its member companies.
CIPET currently runs 23 training centers for plastics in India. The group also said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Mich., last year to develop doctoral level courses.
One Indian plastic trade group in the west of the country is launching its own training center.
The Kolkata-based Indian Plastics Federation in May is set to open a $4 million training and education center, which it said is the first of its kind in the country set up by a plastics association.
A lack of trained workers does hold back the development of the industry, said IPF President Praddip Nayyar, in an interview at Plastindia.
The group hopes to run about 250 workers at a time through the center, focused mainly on skilled and semi-skilled workers, and is in talks with CIPET and local government about the programs, Nayyar said.
The center will be located in an industrial park for plastics processors operated by the IPF and the government of the state of West Bengal.
Nayyar said there are about 20,000 metric tons of plastics processing capacity within about 12 miles of the training center.