India is edging China to become the most populous country by 2028. More than 60 per cent of the current population of India is between 15 and 59 years of age, whereas domestically, its relatively youthful profile is seen as the biggest challenge for the government, as India is the largest employable manpower base globally. In the past two decades, the rate of population growth in India has reduced, but the skilled labor force is expected to grow almost 2 per cent annually for the next couple of years. Historically, the Indian economy has been mainly agriculturally based, but, with urbanization, the labor is drifting toward service sectors, and people are increasingly looking to develop their skills in sectors such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, retail and health care. To sustain economic growth, there is an urgent need to develop vocational training programs that address current needs. In spite of all the favorable numbers, the question that must be answered by employers and policymakers remains: Is the available labor being skilled appropriately to be employable? The mushrooming of educational and training institutes in India has imparted professional skills to youth, but industry leaders tend to talk about the unavailability of skilled labor, especially in the culinary skills arena. In a country like India, the labor market tends to alternate between the availability and shortage of skilled labor, and so it seems ironic that on the one hand, there is a shortage of staff and at the same time graduates from various colleges and professional institutes remain unemployed; the reason could be lack of employability skills, especially culinary skills. Given this, the hospitality and tourism industry has emerged as the main driver of the service sector in India; it contributes 6.23 per cent to National GDP and 8.78 per cent of the total employment in India, contributing to significant economic growth. In this context, it is imperative for the government to take appropriate steps in devising strategies to address the problem and also secure successful implementation. This paper aims to analyze the Skill India initiative for the hospitality sector and compare it with the realities on the ground, with particular reference to culinary skills.
The research reported here was conducted using primary and secondary sources. Industry data were collected through focused groups and roundtable discussions. Online sources, magazines, newspapers and books are referred to as secondary sources, and the data collected are critically analyzed to reach a conclusion.
There is a significant increase in foreign and domestic tourists, and the subsectors discussed are very closely linked to food, health, traditional cooking, regional and seasonal cuisines. The demand for Indian food and slow cooking is increasing; however, despite various government initiatives, there is no significant improvement in the skill set of the available labor. As food is an important component of all tourism packages, there is a particular need for public–private partnerships to take the Skill India initiative to the next level. That said, academic standards and curriculum must align with international quality frameworks and be in sync with current and future industry demands and benchmarks.
The dependence on the sources available online and their credibility remains the biggest challenge; however, increasing the sample size and more participation from nodal bodies and government officials would have broadened the base of the study.
The research adds value for industry leaders and policymakers at large. Educational institutions, students and hoteliers will find it useful as they attempt to bridge the gap and plan a roadmap according to industry requirements.
Sharma, S. and Sharma, R. (2019), "Culinary skills: the spine of the Indian hospitality industry: Is the available labor being skilled appropriately to be employable?", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 25-36. https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-10-2018-0061Download as .RIS
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