"With the growth of the food processing sector and emergence of new trends and technology, industry's requirement for specialised skillset has become critical".
The food processing industry demands different skill sets on the basis of their relevance to various segments. The basic functional distribution of human resource in the industry is involved in operations stage with 10 percent of the workforce dedicated towards supply chain
Primarily, training for entry-level resources are undertaken in-house by employers for on the job training model where senior employees are responsible for imparting requisite skills and training them. The varying quality of training does not ensure either standard job role or pay for the trained students. Several food processing players have to invest significantly in training workforce on basic hygiene and sanitation practices, since most of the workers are inadequately educated. There is a need to introduce courses on basic hygiene and sanitation practices; perhaps through some nationally recognised institute. A standardised accreditation system should be in place to certify employees for these basic prequalification before entering this sector. Several employers have established in-house training institutes in the absence of specific courses or training institutes. There is no course for food machinery, such as canning, dehydration and handling frozen foods. This has led to a clear disparity among major players who have the resources to invest in such initiatives and small and medium enterprises with limited resources.
By 2022, the food processing industry is expected to generate about 44.34 lakh new jobs, primarily entry-level and supervisory profiles. Several skill gaps exist in various stages of the food processing value chain that need to be addressed. This includes the food processing sector as well as ancillary industries, such as bottling and packaging. The growing quality consciousness by the consumers requires the workforce to be skilled in basic hygiene and sanitary practices. Processing units are also adopting mechanisation and technology. There is a growing need to impart technical skills to more specialist personnel who are capable of working on imported machines in specific sub-segments. Focus also needs to be on the front-end staff for developing customer relationship management skills, which are integral to maintaining healthy relationship with institutional players, such as hotels, restaurants and retailers. Farm procurement is an important area for processing units and need to streamline their raw materials supply for the rising demand. At a farm level, the growers are poorly equipped and lack awareness of implementing the best practices for growing. This is where the need for procurement staff to be proactively engaged in crop/production advisory is missing.