FICSI’s Online Skilling Courses to Boost Employment in the Food Processing Sector

Minister for Food Processing Industries Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal launched the PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME) scheme on 29th June 2020 as a part of “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”. Union Minister said that the Scheme would generate a total investment of Rs 35,000 crore and generate 9 lakh skilled and semi-skilled employment and benefit 8 lakh units through access to information, training, better exposure and formalization. The guidelines of the Scheme were released on the occasion.

She further informed that MoFPI is planning to start free on-line skilling classes for SC and ST entrepreneurs, in collaboration with NIFTEM and FICSI, for providing e-learning. Food Industry Capacity and Skill Initiative (FICSI) is a Sector Skill Council for Food Processing Industries supported by  National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). It's a non-for-profit organization established for the upliftment of skill level in the Food Processing Industry. The council developes Occupational Standards, Qualification Packs and  competency frameworks to create a pool of certified Trainers and Assessors through Training Programs. Council also conducts Skill Gap Studies and also Assess and Certify trainees on the curriculum aligned to National Occupational Standards to ensure that the Food Processing industry can grow with skilled manpower, increase productivity and profitability.

MoFPI has identified 41 courses and job roles like baking, making jam, pickles, etc for which access to digital content would be made available. Once certified, these entrepreneurs would have better employment potential, or they can start their own venture. She further informed that the participant handbooks and the facilitator’s guide created by the Ministry, through NIFTEM, will be converted into e-learning format with suitable digital content and online assessment service. These will be made available in English, Hindi and other regional languages by FICSI on the web and on android based app on mobiles.

Highlighting the role of local food processing units, the Union Minister said that food products manufactured by the rural entrepreneurs in the villages have a long tradition of supplying Indian food products to the local population. The importance of these local units and their role has been amply emphasised by the Hon’ble Prime Minister in his Address to the Nation on 12.5.2020.

Speaking about the challenges faced by the food processing sector, Smt. Badal said that the unorganised food processing sector faces a number of challenges which limit their performance and their growth. She added that these challenges include lack of access to modern technology & equipment, training, access institutional credit, lack of basic awareness on quality control of products; and lack of branding & marketing skills etc. She shared that owing to these challenges, the unorganised food processing sector contributes much less in terms of value addition and output despite its huge potential.

Union FPI Minister said that the unorganized food processing sector comprising nearly 25 lakh units contributes to 74% of employment in the food processing sector. Nearly 66% of these units are located in rural areas and about 80% of them are family-based enterprises supporting livelihood rural households and minimizing their migration to urban areas. These units largely fall within the category of micro enterprises.