Next to power, labour shortage is the major concern for the industries here. In an effort to meet the labour needs, the units are looking at tapping students at Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and school dropouts.

President of Coimbatore District Small Industries' Association M. Kandhaswami says the shortage is mainly for unskilled workers. The extent of shortage is such that the units here will be able to provide jobs for nearly 1,000 workers a day.

They are paid Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 a day for eight hours work and they get minimum four hours overtime a day.

The workers who used to come to these units earlier were those who were just school educated. With increase in education and job opportunities, the smaller units are finding it difficult to get workers now.

Those studying at ITIs prefer jobs at multi-national companies or to go abroad. Hence, the Government should identify school dropouts in rural areas.

They can be trained at the small-scale industries and later employed in the units too. The association has submitted a proposal in this regard to the Government, he said.

J. James, president of Tamil Nadu Cottage and Micro Enterprises Association, says ITI, diploma or college students prefer larger industries.

The Government should introduce mandatory training at micro industries for the ITI students. It should also help the industries identify and employ school dropouts.

According to S. Ravikumar, President of the Coimbatore and Tirupur District Micro Enterprises Association, the association conducted campus interview at the ITIs in Coimbatore and Madurai last year.

Of the 200 students who joined the micro industries, 100 are still continuing at these units.

The micro and cottage units face nearly 30 per cent labour shortage and they need to look at various options to get workers.

Apart from campus interview at the Government ITIs this year too, the association plans to go to colleges.

About 20 per cent of the micro industries have grown to the level of small-scale units and need mechanical diploma and engineering graduates too. They can be recruited from the campus through placement programmes, he says.

More In: Coimbatore