For decades, India has explored innovative avenues for education, dating back to radio, television, and now the internet era. Today, as blended learning and AI-driven approaches gain prominence, a transformative revolution in the skilling sector is on the horizon. As the conversations around the ascend of India to higher global economic ranks become more commonplace, the role of a skilled workforce is pivotal to its big realizations.
Various projections indicate that investments in upskilling could potentially bolster the global economy by a big number and elevate its economic prowess by $570 billion by the year 2030. This places skill development at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations, a comprehensive set of global initiatives launched in 2016 to eradicate poverty, safeguard the planet, and ensure universal peace and prosperity.
The Demographic Advantage and Upskilling of Indian Youth
India has a young demographic advantage with over 54 percent of its population under the age of 25, but only 62 percent falls within the working-age bracket. An additional influx of 183 million individuals is anticipated into this working-age population by 2050. Consequently, an urgent imperative lies in the skilling and upskilling of this growing workforce.
Upskilling, in essence, is the process of taking your existing skills to the next level. It’s a modern-day shift that champions continuous learning by offering training programs and development opportunities to enhance the abilities of the current workforce and bridge skill gaps.
Upskilling of Painters in India
In the space of the Indian Paints and Coatings Market, projections of big magnitude are being discussed. The market size is estimated to be USD 8.78 billion in 2023, and it’s projected to reach USD 13.75 billion by 2028, showing a growth rate of 9.38% during this forecast period (2023-2028), according to an Akzo Nobel India report. This organic growth indicates a significant increase in production and a technological upliftment in the implementation of painting work across the country. However, the existing knowledge base of painters may not be sufficient to meet these evolving demands. Therefore, there’s a crucial need for regular upskilling within the existing workforce.
‘iTrain on Wheels’ Program
The ‘iTrain on Wheels’ Program of Berger Paints India Ltd. (under our livelihood intervention) steps in with a primary objective– to equip painters with the technical expertise and knowledge required to excel in their craft. But it’s not just about individual growth, it’s about uplifting the entire painter’s community.
Berger Paints India Limited, a prominent name in the paint industry, has partnered with Smile Foundation since 2021 to implement this upskilling initiative. The goal is to refine the skills of young painters and enhance their employability opportunities across 100+ villages and urban slums in 24 states. This program doesn’t just aim to create a skilled workforce but also foster entrepreneurial skills among painters.
Breaking the Tradition for Good
Traditionally, the painting industry has been male-dominated, and in India, the overall women’s work participation rate stands at a mere 29.4% as per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS July 2021-June 2022). Even in states like Bihar, it’s less than 10%. However, the iTrain program is changing this narrative. It offers training to women interested in painting, a genuine effort to boost women’s participation in this industry and contribute to gender diversity.
Over time, there has been a noticeable increase in women’s participation, a positive step towards women’s empowerment in the paint industry. Amrutben Dineshbhai Bhuriya from Madhapar, Kachchh, Gujarat, is a compelling case in point. A few years ago, she worked as a construction laborer, displaying her determination and adaptability in handling various tasks. Her journey led her to the world of painting, where she initially faced challenges competing with her male counterparts due to a lack of expertise.
It was a paint merchant, a regular supplier, who introduced her to the iTrain program. She attended the program as the sole female participant when the iTrain mobile training unit visited her village. During the program, she acquired valuable skills, was exposed to innovative painting and home decoration techniques, and gained technical expertise. With specialised tools and equipment from Express Painting, her service quality soared. Not only did she become proficient, but she also became an inspiration for other women in her community. She actively engaged in various iTrain modules, expanding her knowledge.
Today, Amrutben is a respected paint contractor in Madhapar, managing a team of 8-10 individuals. Her monthly earnings range between INR 60,000- 80,000, depending on the volume of contracts. She expressed her gratitude, saying, “The iTrain training program has completely changed my life. I have gained extensive knowledge about colors and paints, and I am thrilled to be part of this transformative initiative.” This inspiring journey showcases how upskilling programs like the iTrain program can bring about significant transformations in the lives of individuals and create a more diverse and empowered workforce in the paint industry.