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What Can Entrepreneurs and Markets do to Create a More Skilled Workforce in the Infra - Construction Sector Several businesses within the sector continue to use outdated business processes, and are largely dependent on manual labour and heavy machinery

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The infrastructure-construction sector in India is one of the primary drivers of the country's economy. According to a KPMG report, the country is likely to emerge as the world's third-largest construction market by 2030, with the sector's contribution to GDP increasing to 15% within the same time. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and emerging technologies are playing a key role in changing the industrial landscape as we know it.

With the implementation of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and big data, businesses across industries are being able to reach their productive best by optimizing processes and functions and enhancing employee skills.

While this transformation is widespread in today's industrial landscape, the construction industry has largely been left behind in the way it operates. Several businesses within the sector continue to use outdated business processes and are largely dependent on manual labour and heavy machinery. This has hindered the industry from achieving an optimal output.

Additionally, amongst those businesses that are trying to implement new technologies, there is a large skill gap amongst employees. As per CREDAI reports, the workforce of the real estate and construction sector in India is currently 33 million-strong. However, the majority (83%) of this is made up of unskilled workers. Given its size and scale, the infrastructure- construction sector will benefit greatly by bridging employee skill gaps to enhance operations and boost productivity. Let us see how they can achieve this:

How AI and Machine Learning Can Help Businesses Optimize Processes:

With the implementation of AI and its tools, construction businesses can streamline operations for greater results. Machine learning tools can be programmed with predetermined data and can study past and current data to make accurate predictions for the business. For instance, these tools can predict defects in certain machinery even before they happen. Companies can thus, avoid unnecessary down-time which may hinder operational processes and slow down the completion of a project, and optimise the entire process.

Mechanizing the Labour Market

According to a report by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), which estimates that India will need around 76.5 million workers in the various segments of the construction landscape, but only 4% of that is skilled, it is understandable that there is an immense shortage of labour that needs to be compensated for. Thus, mechanizing the entire process, i.e making construction activities move into factories where advanced manufacturing processes are used to pre-fabricate modules that are assembled on site.

Nearly every infrastructure sector presents a great opportunity for greater automation, with roads and highways, ports and airports and power emerging as hot spots for better productivity. While government is doing its bit to enhance automation in the segment, public private partnerships are also emerging as a favoured system to promote seamless automation. Funding India's diverse infrastructural projects with a projected size of USD 500 billion requires simultaneous support from various groups.

The current government has started establishments such as the National Academy of Construction in Andhra Pradesh to train the workforce in various trades of construction. This involves training them across various skills and also imparting the knowledge of operating machines and also finding them jobs that utilize the acquired skill set.

The construction sector has grown at a rate of 11.1% CAGR and construction investment accounts for around 52.4% of gross fixed capital formation. The shortage of affordable housing across several states and an estimated growth of 12% in housing further adds to the prospects of the construction sector. Given the scenario, automation is essential for the sector to meet the corresponding demand, and training the millions of unskilled workers in the domain for optimized man-machine existence in a labour intensive country such as ours is essential for unhindered progress of the domain and with it the economy.

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