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Skill set development for the A&D sector – An MSME perspective

This Plenary session on January 7, 2016, at the Indian Science Congress being held in Mysore, aims to focus on the Make In India initiative with particular reference to the Defence and Aerospace sector.

The ‘Make in India’ is a paradigm shift from the past two decades of Indian obsession with IT and ITeS services during which manufacturing industries were allowed to collapse. There appears to be a new found realization of the benefits of manufacturing A&D products in India for home consumption rather than import them. However, ‘Make in India’ goes beyond just manufacturing, to design, innovate, manufacture and support in India. Viewed holistically, this has profound implications across a wide section of businesses. It involves huge numbers of creative engineers, technicians, professors, research scholars, sales, marketing and support staff, etc. all of whom need to possess specialized skills.

MSMEs in India contribute more than 45% of the industrial output of the country and hence constitute a large section of the manufacturing chains of almost all products. ‘Make in India’ opens up far more opportunities of raising their value proposition than being mere vendors to the large DPSUs. MSMEs will now have to scale up their capabilities to design and manufacture parts, sub-assemblies as well as complete products. This requires a wide variety of skills.

Considering that less than 10% of the engineers churned out of Indian colleges are found to be employable in the core engineering industries, imparting practical skills is the need of the hour for MII to succeed. Institutions such as the Drona School of Engineering Practice, which orients engineers to practical hands-on exposure to high value engineering skills in an industrial environment, are the way forward.