By Anil Bhandari
(Chairman, AB Smart Concepts and Chairman, Organising Committee for the Chef Awards, Indian Culinary Forum)
Human resource is a capital which every country would like to possess as it leads to better productivity. India is the youngest country in terms of human capital development as over 62 per cent of its population is in the working age group from 15 to 59 years, and over 54 per cent below 25 years of age. During the next 20 years the labour force in the industrialized world is expected to decline by 4 per cent while it will increase by 32 per cent in India. Training youth in various skills would make them more productive. In the Food & Beverage industry, a well-groomed personality, cheerful appearance and effective communication skills are basic essentials for success. During training, the other practical skills the trainee is made familiar with are polished to perfection depending on his creativity and enthusiasm to learn.
India’s F & B service industry’s market size was Rs. 4.23 lakh crore in 2018-19 and is expected to reach Rs. 5.99 lakh crore by 2022-23. The 11 per cent growth in the last three years is a result of an improved investment climate, increase in urbanization, higher spending capacity, global exposure and changing food habits, especially by the millennial generation, as per the NRAI 2019 report. The organised segment has a 35 per cent share of the total market and contributed Rs 1.8 lakh crore by way of taxes in 2018-19. The unorganised sector’s share is expected to fall to 57 per cent in 2022-23 from the present 65 per cent. In terms of employment, the organised sector provided jobs to 3.7 million people, or 51 per cent of the total in 2018-19, the unorganised sector employed 3.6 million or 49 per cent of the total workforce of 7.3 million and is estimated to grow to 9.2 million in 2022-23.
Foreign tourist arrivals to India were 10.56 million in 2018. The country’s third largest foreign exchange earner, tourism is a major source of foreign exchange and an employment-intensive sector as for every Rs. 1 million of investment 78 jobs are created in the Tourism sector, 45 in the Agriculture and 18 jobs in the Manufacturing sector. Additional trained manpower will be required to meet the government’s anticipated target of 20 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2020. There is need to encourage capacity building and improvement of skill sets through increase in the number of Hotel Management and Catering Institutes from the present 42 Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs), five Food Craft Institutes (FCIs) as well as two Indian Culinary Institutes (ICIs).
These institutes offer programmes leading to award of Certificate, Diploma, Post-Graduate Diploma, Bachelor and Master Degree. Education levels at IHMs have not made much progress from when culinary education was started 25-30 years ago when standards were high as IHMs were attached for short durations to foreign Institutes. Fulfillment of worldclass manpower is possible if there is increase in the number of high-quality Institutes operated in public-private participation (PPP) mode.
Disinvestment and privatization of all the current institutes, as also of the two ICIs at Tirupati and Noida Delhi would remove infrastructural constraints, encourage a favorable policy and make effective use of technology. This would help in improvement of standards of education, provide state-of-the equipment and latest educational techniques as well as research facilities thereby leading to professional-level manpower and help promote better hospitality services. Opening new Institutes would lower overcrowding of classes, improve the focus of students and decrease the workload of the faculty. Free of red-tapism, payment to the academia would improve. All these factors would combine in raising the quality of culinary education to worldclass standards.
The existing academia-industry gap needs to be bridged with students being taught the industry’s norms and the industry, in turn, to make campus visits to orient and motivate the younger generation in their career options. Greater inter-action is necessary between the industry, academia and students.
Advances in technology and new hotel systems are bringing new trends. International brands are introducing different F & B operations and a new protocol-based system. The teacher’s role is to make the students understand the operational developments and emerging protocols. Trained chefs can choose a career in the hotel, hospitality and allied industry. There are other options such as opening a speciality restaurant, becoming an entrepreneur or even becoming a celebrity chef with a display of his/her creativity and innovative recipes. Unlimited career opportunities are in institutional catering such as the Airlines, Railways, Cruise liners, Defence services, religious places, NGOs, hospitals, etc. The tourism industry is a major generator of employment for both trained and skilled youth. The government, in consideration of this potential, launched the Hunar se Rozgar Tak initiative in 2009-10 to provide career opportunities to low and semi-skilled youth, both for men and especially women as they make up 70 per cent of employees in the industry.
The objective of the Hunar initiative was to create employable skills amongst youth and to bring the unorganized segment into the fold of the organised segment. The trades taught are Food Production and F & B Service, Bakery & Patisserie and the time allotted for each programme is 6-8 weeks whereas a minimum of 6 months would be appropriate to attain proficiency. So the Hunar training is a wasted effort for the Institutes selected by Union and State Governments as well as the youth. The Ministry of Tourism should reconsider the training matrix provided for trade training. The duration of the Entrepreneurship training programme to produce chefs specializing in operating Tandoori cuisine, Bar operations, Bakery and preparation of Indian Sweets is 150 hours for each course. Actually, a minimum of 1,000 hours is needed for quality training in these skills. The result of poor training is that the youth continue to be unemployed thereby defeating the objective and financial loss to the government.
The existing academia industry gap needs to be bridged with students being taught the industry’s norms and the industry, in turn, to make campus visits to orient and motivate the younger generation in their career options. Greater inter-action is necessary between the industry, academia and students.
The Upgrading the Skills & Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD) scheme was launched by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2015. The scheme aims at preserving and promoting the rich heritage and traditional arts and crafts including cuisines of the minority communities. This scheme is laudable as the country’s rich, traditional cuisines deserve to be revived and preserved. I suggest that the government raise the standards of India’s culinary education levels, work on the PPP mode and create new Culinary Institutes, giving their management and operation to the private sector on lease while keeping its role as a regulator and facilitator.
The government will benefit with high returns on investment and this source of income could be recycled to create more Culinary Institutes and be used to further the cause of India’s culinary development.