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Upgrading Suryamitra Skill Development Programme
Improving Uptake and Employability of Suryamitras in the Solar Sector
01 September, 2022
Akanksha Tyagi, Sharayu Shejale, and Neeraj Kuldeep

Suggested Citation: Tyagi, Akanksha, Sharayu Shejale,and Neeraj Kuldeep. 2022. Upgrading Suryamitra Skill Development Programme: Improving Uptake and Employability of Suryamitras in the Solar Sector. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water

Overview

This study assesses the performance of the Suryamitra Skill Development Programme between FY16 and FY20. It is the flagship skilling programme for the solar industry initiated by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in 2015 and implemented by National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE). To understand the successes and limitations of the programme in producing a skilled workforce, the study analysed the NISE database of the programme and conducted in-depth interviews with key stakeholders involved in programme’s implementation.

Key Highlights

  • As of the financial year (FY) 2020, the Suryamitra Skill Development Programme had trained about 48,157 Suryamitras nation-wide with the state of Maharashtra achieving maximum Suryamitras trained (4,383).
  • As of FY21, there are about 776 certified training partners (TPs) under the programme with Uttar Pradesh hosting maximum (82) training centres.
  • The industry is unsatisfied with the current curriculum of the Programme and desires more focus on practical training and topics like solar manufacturing. Further, there’s a mismatch in the demand and supply of Suryamitras in several states leading to low levels of local employment generation.
  • Long duration, with in-person residential trainings, low wages, and outstation job postings are some reasons for the high attrition rate of Suryamitras in the solar sector.

 

 


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Akanksha Tyagi
Programme Associate
Comprehensive skilling programmes are essential to accelerate the clean energy transition. Policymakers should bring them back in focus and provide the necessary support.

Executive Summary

The Suryamitra Skill Development Programme was initiated in 2015 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and implemented by the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) to meet skilling demand and employment in the solar sector. As of financial year (FY) 2020, the programme had trained about 48,157 Suryamitras nation-wide with the state of Maharashtra achieving maximum Suryamitras trained (4,383). Furthermore, as of FY21, there are about 776 certified training partners (TPs) under this programme with Uttar Pradesh hosting maximum (82) training centres. This study assesses the Suryamitra Programme’s performance over the years to produce a skilled workforce for the solar industry to accelerate the clean energy transition. For this, it focuses on quality of curriculum and trainings provided, career prospects of Suryamitras in the solar sector, and implementation challenges through in-depth interviews with key stakeholders (industry players, training partners, and Suryamitras) involved in implementing the programme.

Key findings
  • While Suryamitra respondents are satisfied with the quality of the training and curriculum, industry and training partners highlighted the need for expanding the curriculum to include more modules like solar manufacturing, as well as focus on more practical, on-the-job training.
  • Several Suryamitras have cited the long duration and residential format of the programme as a barrier to participate and continue in the sector. Often being a sole breadwinner, it’s difficult for them to leave their current occupation and families behind for such trainings.
  • Suryamitras are primarily hired as contractual workforce under the roles of technicians (field/ site technician, manufacturing technician) for construction and maintenance activities. This limits their career progression in the solar sector. Furthermore, low wages and outstation employment contributes to low retention in the sector. Industry respondents and analysis of the NISE database show a declining trend of hiring Suryamitras over the years.
  • The local employment generation remains low. One possible reason identified is the mismatch between the Suryamitras trained and solar capacity installed within a state.

States differ considerably in Suryamitras trained and annual workforce requirement for project construction and maintenance

States differ considerably in Suryamitras trained and annual workforce requirement

Source: Authors’ analysis of NISE database, MNRE 2022.

  • There’s low awareness among trainees about the solar industry and career prospects that pushes them to drop out midway through the course or not take up jobs in the industry upon completion. Training partners often struggle to mobilise good candidates.
Key recommendations
  • MNRE should expand the Suryamitra Programme curriculum to include new modules like solar manufacturing and more practical training by collaborating with the industry. This will improve their employability in the envisioned domestic solar manufacturing industry and other emerging industries.
  • MNRE should reconsider the mode and duration of the training as several Suryamitras have cited the long duration and residential format of the programme as a barrier to participate and continue in the sector.
  • Blended learning modules, where online theory courses and refresher courses can be offered, along with a practical, on-ground component should be considered. This will also encourage women candidates to participate in the programme and reduce the dropout rates.
  • NISE, in conjunction with state nodal agencies (SNAs), should organise national and regional conferences and job fairs to bring together local solar companies, training partners and Suryamitras for networking and placement opportunities.
HAVE A QUERY?
Akanksha Tyagi
Programme Associate

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