The small and medium-scale general engineering units here need about 15,000 workers immediately to meet the labour shortage, according to the newly-elected president of the Coimbatore District Small Industries' Association (CODISSIA) M. Kandhaswami.

He told The Hindu here on Monday that labour shortage was a matter of concern to the entrepreneurs here. Nearly 50 per cent of the labour in these industries were from other States, especially Bihar and Orissa. These workers remained in a unit only for about six months. In an effort to help the general engineering Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) meet the labour shortage, the association would join hands with the MSME Development Institute. Candidates from the Southern Districts could get trained at the units here for a monthly stipend of Rs. 3,500 for six months and then get permanent employment.

For the long term, the association proposed setting up an Industrial Training Institute under public private partnership here.

Mr. Kandhaswami said that more number of small-scale industries here could become original component suppliers to the automobile majors. About 15 per cent of the small and medium-scale units here were now supplying to the automobile segment. The opportunities available were huge and more units should tap the potential.

The CODISSIA would also reiterate its demand for an increase in the Low Tension ceiling for small-scale units.

Mr. Kandhaswami said at a press conference here recently that MSMEs that wanted to increase production capacity were unable to do so because of the limit. If they used more power, they would fall into the HT category and hence incur higher charges.

There were nearly 1,000 industries that were waiting for the Government's decision to carry out expansion because even the slightest of expansion would put these units in the HT category, he said.

He also said the Centre should allocate funds for the credit-linked capital subsidy scheme and the State Government should release the subsidy for all units that had purchased generator sets under its scheme.

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